Meadowlands Pace Highlights Stellar Card

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Ted Black

July 16th, 2017

While thoroughbred racing fans might have keenly watched the action at Delaware Park on Saturday afternoon when Songbird prevailed, unconvincingly, as the 1-20 favorite in the Grade I, $750,000 Delaware Handicap for fillies and mares, serious standardbred fans focused their attention on the stellar card at the Meadowlands which highlighted many of the best pacers and trotters in training.

In the opening race on the card, Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) lived up to her billing as the 1-9 favorite in the $125,000 Del Miller Memorial for three-year-old filly trotters when she quarter moved to command, rolled by the half in 55.4, met modest pressure from Dream Baby Dream (Rod Allen) on the far turn, shook loose from that one and held sway late for a two-length score over the pocket-sitting Magic Presto (Brian Sears) in 1:51.4.

A sophomore daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter, Ariana G rebounded from a third-place finish against male rivals in the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial final at Pocono Downs two weeks earlier to record her fourth win in five starts this year and she now owns 13 wins in 16 career tries. Last year's champion two-year-old filly trotter, Ariana G has earned nearly $940,000 and she will be looking to enhance her resume and bankroll next month in the Grade I, $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old filly trotters.

One race later in the $30,000 Miss Versatility for trotting fillies and mares, Hannelore Hanover (Gingras) easily lived up to her role as the 1-9 favorite when she brushed to command down the backside, rolled by the half in 55 flat and three-quarters in 1:23 flat then sprinted clear in the lane to a five-length score in 1:50.3. A five-year-old Swan For All mare trained by Ron Burke, Hannelore Hanover has won four of five starts this year and now boasts 30 wins and nearly $1.6 million in her career while establishing a new lifetime mark in the Miss Versatility.

Then one race later in the $160,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters eyeing the Grade I, $1.5 million Hambletonian here next month, Walner (Tim Tetrick) lived up to his billing as the 1-9 favorite when he overcame post eight to brush to command past the opener in 28, rolled by the half in 55.1, met token pressure briefly from Devious Man (Andy Miller) on the far turn then drew clear in the lane to a three-length score in 1:50.2. A sophomore son of Chapter Seven trained by Linda Toscano, Walner has won both of his starts this year and now owns nine wins in 10 career outings and last year's champion two-year-old trotting colt has retained his role as the future book favorite for the Hambo next month.

Devious Man, a Maryland-bred son of Credit Winner trained by Julie Miller, raced well in defeat. Away quickly, Devious Man was rebuffed by Sortie (Andrew McCarthy) on the first turn, found himself in third when Walner brushed to command down the backside, angled out first over entering the far turn, found a seat when Sortie broke mid far turn, angled out again top stretch but was simply no match for the winner while clearly second best. Devious Man owns four wins in six starts this year, including triumphs in both the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial at Pocono Downs and the $250,000 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs,  but overtaking Walner in the Hambo may be a tall order.

One race later the early chalkfest came to an end when Overdraft Volo (Andy Miller) benefited from a two-hole trip behind Feed Your Head (Gingras) through the first three calls, angled out of the pocket at the top of the lane and surged past the leader and held safe the closers to score at 7-1  in 1:52.2 in  the lesser half of the $125,000 Del Miller Memorial for three-year-old filly trotters. A sophomore daughter of Yankee Glide trained by Julie Miller, Overdraft Volo rebounded from a third-place effort in the $40,000 Mary Reynolds one week earlier as the 3-5 choice when she notched her third win in four starts this year and now sports a 6-3-3 slate and $270,000 banked from 14 career outings.

Then one race later in the $165,000 Mistletoe Shalee for three-year-old pacing fillies, Agent Q (David Miller) maintained her status as the division leader when she overcame an extended first over bid to prevail handily by two lengths as the 1-5 favorite in 1:48.4. A Maryland-bred daughter of Western Terror trained by Chris Ryder, Agent Q notched her fifth win in eight starts this year and now sports a stellar 8-9-0 slate and $820,000 banked from 18 lifetime tries, meaning she has only been worse than second once in her career to this point.

Several races later on the card, Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron) lived up to his role as the 1-5 favorite in the $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity for four-year-old trotting males when he angled out first over past the half, grinded his way toward Warrawee Roo (Daniel Dube) through the far turn, surged to command at the head of the lane and held safe the late bids of Cufflink Hanover (Corey Callahan) and Dayson (Gingras) to score by nearly a length in 2:05.2 for the one-mile and one-eighth affair.

Last year's Hambo hero and trotting Triple Crown champion, Marion Marauder has won three of four starts this year and now sports a 14-8-4 slate and $2.1 million banked from 32 career outings. He had won the $240,000 Graduate final one week earlier over the Big M strip in similar fashion and should be a factor against genuine older rivals when the Open stakes begin in earnest next month. Cufflink Hanover displayed plenty of late trot and Dayson closed willingly between horses.

Then one race later in the main event, the $750,000 Meadowlands Pace final for three-year-old pacing colts, Huntsville (Tetrick) lived up to his billing as the 1-5 favorite when he settled early, brushed to command before the half in 53.3, rolled by three-quarters in 1:20.3, appeared to go inside one pylon turning for home then just outlasted the late surge of Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears) to score by a head in 1:47.4. A sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Ray Schnittker, Huntsville has won five of seven starts this year and now owns 12 wins and six second-place efforts and $1.3 million banked in 18 career tries.

Downbytheseaside launched a first over bid down the backside, found a seat behind Huntsville on the far turn, angled out at the top of the lane, closed willingly in the final 100 yards and just missed catching the winner in s game effort. Another sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Brian Brown, Downbytheseaside owns a 5-1-1 slate and $500,000 banked from eight starts this year and a 13-4-3 slate and nearly $1.1 million banked from 21 career outings. Maryland-bred Classic Pro, a free-legged son of Shadow Play, finished third in a good outing after overcoming post nine to gain the initial lead.

Then one race later in the $450,000 William R. Haughton Memorial for older pacers at one-mile and one eighth, Mach It So (David Miller) benefited from an inside draw and an early move when he brushed to command down the backside and then outdueled a game, gritty Boston Red Rocks (Brett Miller) to score in 2:00.3 for the added distance. A seven-year-old Mach Three gelding trained by Jeff Bamond, Mach It So recorded his second win in three years in the Haughton, notched his fourth victory from 13 seasonal starts and now owns 37 wins and over $2 million banked from 107 lifetime tries.

Then one race later on the card, Nike Franco N (Tetrick) benefited from a perfect trip behind favored Lady Shadow (Gingras) to capture the $200,000 Golden Girls for aged pacing mares at one-mile and one eighth in 2:01.2. A seven-year-old McArdle mare trained by Jo Ann Looney-King, Nike Franco recorded her fourth win in nine starts this year and now owns 26 wins from 46 career tries after handing Lady Shadow her first defeat in six seasonal starts in her Golden Girls title defense. Lady Shadow is the reigning division champion and Maryland-bred harness horse of the year.

Then one race later in the second $160,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial split for three-year-old trotting colts, Long Tom (Tetrick) benefited from patient handling and a perfect two-hole trip and overhauled What The Hill (David Miller) along the pylons to score in 1:52.4. A sophomore son of Muscle Hill and the beaten favorite in the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial at Pocono Downs, Long Tom recorded his fourth win in five starts this year for trainer Marcus Melander, but he appears to be an outsider in his pursuit to overhaul Walner for Hambo glory next month.