Meadowlands offers two nights of lucrative stakes action

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Ted Black

November 20th, 2015

This Friday and Saturday night standardbred racing fans will get their fill of top-notch stakes action when The Meadowlands hosts a bevy of lucrative open stakes for all ages and both gaits, while on Monday night Dover Downs will offer the Hap Hansen Progress Pace elimination for three-year-old colt pacers.

Friday night's card at the Meadowlands features a quartet of stakes races for fillies and mares worth a combined sum of $1.2 million. Two of the races include one talented lady that has already secured divisional honors and another will likely have little impact on the balloting whatsoever, but the fourth will go a long way toward determining the champion of a wide-open division.

In Friday's second race, the $410,000 Goldsmith Maid Final for two-year-old trotting fillies, much of the attention will be focused on All The Time (Yannick Gingras) who has won seven of 11 starts and earned over $450,000, including a handy win in last week's elimination and a previous score in the $600,000 Breeders Crown final at Woodbine. This daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter has already secured divisional honors, but the railbound lass is no cinch to score here at a short price.

Two other Takter trainees, Kathy Parker (Takter) and Haughty (David Miller) have enjoyed solid campaigns and combined to win nearly $550,000 between them and both competed in the Breeders Crown. Kathy Parker accepted a bye into this event, while Haughty rebounded from an early miscue in the Kindergarten at Vernon Downs to finish a solid third in her Goldsmith Maid elim last week.

Double Exposure (Tim Tetrick) rallied from midpack to finish second to All The Time last week in the elim and arrives having won three of four starts for trainer Tony Alagna, including a Kindergarten elim before bypassing the final. But the value play in this race is clearly Womans Will (Andy Miller), who finished a nondescript fifth last week from post nine in her elim, one week after crushing Kathy Parker and six others in the Matron Stakes at Dover.

Then just past the midway point of the card, a solid field of seven pacing distaffers will go postward in the $200,000 TVG Mares Open, a race that should go a long way toward determining the division champ.

Venus Delight (Tetrick) finished a tiring third after a first over trip as the even-money choice in the prep last week, three weeks after an unlucky third as the 3-2 choice in the Breeders Crown. She already owns wins in the $225,000 Milton Stakes at Mohawk, the $200,000 Artiscape at Vernon Downs and the $300,000 Matchmaker Series final at Yonkers and leads the field with over $500,000 banked from 18 starts this year.

Sandbetweenurtoes (Brett Miller) won the prep last week in wire-to-wire fashion for trainer Larry Remmen, but will likely get some early pressure this week from Jerseylicious (Corey Callahan), who has spent much of the year facing conditioned rivals. Gallie Bythe Beach (Marcus Miller) rallied along the pylons late to finish third in the prep for trainer Jim Campbell, ending her three-race skein.

But eventual post time favoritism and possible division honors could eventually fall to Color's A Virgin (David Miller), who won the Breeders Crown two starts back and the Allerage at Lexington one race earlier. She arrives off a fifth-place finish in a Filly-Mare Invitational at Hoosier Park two weeks ago and drew post seven here, but this Brian Brown trainee has already won eight of 19 starts this year and a victory here would elevate her to divisional honors.

Then one race later a solid field of freshman pacing fillies will go postward in the $385,000 Three Diamonds Final. Granted, this race will have little or no impact on divisional honors since the unbeaten Pure Country capped her campaign with a sharp score in the Breeders Crown, but it could propel the winner into the spotlight before next season's major three-year-old stakes.

Railbound Yankee Moonshine (Gingras) finished fourth behind Pure Country in the Breeders Crown one week after winning her elim and this Maryland-bred daughter of Yankee Cruiser trained by Ron Burke is one win away from joining a small contingent of horses on the final ballot for Maryland-bred horse of the year honors. Devil Child is the early leader in the clubhouse, but Yankee Bounty and Centurion ATM are also in contention for that title.

Alongside her is Shezarealdeal (John Campbell) who made an early break in the Matron Stakes two weeks ago at Dover only two weeks after rallying from midpack to finish second in the Breeders Crown. But the most rapidly improving filly in the field is undoubtedly Penpal (Pat Lachance), who won last week's prep in first over fashion after finishing second to Newborn Sassy in the Matron. Her early lines are checkered with breaks, but over the last month she has been superb.

Then four races later on the card, much of the attention will be on Bee A Magician (Brian Sears) - for numerous reasons ) - who will be the solid choice in the $200,000 TVG Mares Open final for trotters. Last week in her final prep for this event, Bee A Magician finished a lackluster fourth as the 1-2 favorite and Sears endured ample criticism for his drive and eventually garnered a 15-day suspension from the track stewards.

Bee A Magician, who had been idle for three weeks heading into that event and reportedly tied up earlier in the week, will have no excuses tomorrow night in the final. The durable five-year-old Kadabra mare trained by Richard Norman has spent much of the year facing male rivals and sports a solid 10-4-0 slate and $930,000 bankroll from 17 starts this year. The former horse of the year has already secured divisional honors even if she fails to find the winner's circle again this week.

Two talented trotting mares that drew to her outside will look to spoil the celebration, however. Shake It Cerry (David Miller), last year's champion three-year-old filly trotter, rallied first over to win last week's prep in 1:53.3 for Takter, while Classic Martine (Tetrick) faded to third after cutting the early fractions. Handover Belle (Gingras) was a good third in the prep and will leave from post three.

As is the case with Friday's card, the stakes action gets under way early on Saturday night at the Meadowlands when a compact field of four sophomore filly trotters goes postward in the $145,000 Continentalvictory Stakes. In a sense, this event is basically a match race.

Mission Brief (Gingras) has won nine of 13 starts and banked over $930,000 this year for Burke and she is clearly the odds-on favorite to capture this event and eventually divisional honors as well. Last week at Dover Downs she rebounded from a late miscue in the Breeders Crown to capture her Matron Stakes by six lengths in 1:50.2, a world record for a three-year-old filly trotter on a five-eighths mile track and the best performance on a night when Crazy Wow and Wiggle It Jiggleit also prevailed in their respective Matrons.

Mission Brief drew off from Wild Honey (John Campbell) that night and the two will meet again on Saturday. Wild Honey, who owns a 7-6-0 slate and $1.1 million banked from 15 starts this year for Takter, had defeated Mission Brief in both the Breeders Crown and Kentucky Filly Futurity and she had earlier won the Hambletonian Oaks on a day when Mission Brief finished second in the Hambo against the boys. Lady Winona (Andy Miller) and Kelsey's Keepsake (Joe Bongiorno) complete the field.

Then three races later in the $490,000 Valley Victory Stakes for two-year-old colt trotters, Dog Gone Lucky (Corey Callahan) and Waitlifter K (Tetrick) form a dynamic uncoupled duo for trainer Chuck Sylvester. Dog Gone Lucky, who sports a 6-3-2 slate and $330,000 bankroll from 13 starts this year, and Waitlifter K both won their eliminations last week. Dog Gone Lucky had previously won the Kindergarten Stakes at Vernon Downs.

But two others freshman trotting colts will look to upend the Sylvester tandem. Lagerfeld (Gingras) finished third in his elim behind Dog Gone Lucky and owns a 3-5-1 slate and $300,000 bankroll from 11 starts for Takter, while Milligan's School (Andy Miller) finished second in his elim and was a solid second in his Matron event at Dover and arrives with a solid 5-3-1 slate and $250,000 bankroll from 15 tries for trainer Julie Miller and clearly merits upset consideration.

Then two races later in the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All Trot, several older trotters will look to join JL Cruze as finalists for divisional honors, while sophomore The Bank tackles older horses in peak form.

Resolve (Ake Svandstedt) won last week's final TVG Open leg in wire-to-wire fashion and owns a 3-4-4 slate and $500,000 bankroll and has taken up the slack in this barn since Sebastian K S retired early. E L Titan (Tetrick) delivered a gritty, first over effort into a fast back half last week and merits consideration although the Riika Rekila trainee has won only once in six starts this year. The Bank (David Miller) captured the Breeders Crown for three-year-old colt trotters and will surpass the $1 million mark in seasonal earnings with any type of check in this event, but has already conceded divisional honors to stablemate Pinkman.

Then one race later in the eighth, the $413,000 Governor's Cup final for two-year-old colt pacers looks like a match race between Big Top Hanover (Gingras) and Boston Red Rocks (Tetrick), who finished one-two, just a nose apart, in their elim. Big Top Hanover has won his last two starts, including the Matron Stakes at Dover since finishing second in the Breeders Crown behind Boston Red Rocks, who posted an 18-1 upset on that night.

Three races later an overflow field of 12 sophomore filly pacers will contest the $150,000 Tarport Hap Stakes at the odds distance of one-mile and one-eighth. Divine Caroline (David Miller) has likely already secured divisional honors, but she will have ample competition here from Bedroomconfessions (Tetrick), Rock Me Gently (Scott Zeron) and Sassa Hanover (Gingras).

Then one race later in the 12th, a compact field of six older pacers will go postward in the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All final. JK Endofanera (Brett Miller), victimized by a slow early tempo in last week's prep, will likely benefit from an honest tempo and arrives a meager $850 shy of the $2 million mark in career earnings. Mach It So (Tetrick) won the prep last week in sharp fashion and already boasts wins in the William R. Haughton Memorial here and the Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington, while Foiled Again (Gingras) has won virtually every major race more than once in his Hall of Fame career for Burke. He owns a modest 3-2-4 slate and $390,000 bankroll this year, but the 11-year-old Dragon Again gelding owns an exceptional 86-58-36 slate and record career earnings of nearly $7.3 million from 245 starts in his career.