Meadowlands, Yonkers offer solid Saturday night cards

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Ted Black

November 25th, 2018

A series of steady rains may have left the racing surfaces at both the Meadowlands and Yonkers Raceway sloppy, but they could not dampen the enthusiasm surrounding both cards.

In one of the early races on the Meadowlands program, Emoticon Hanover (Daniel Dube) lived up to her role as the 4-5 favorite in the $175,000 TVG Open Mare trot when she gained command early, strolled through the middle stages of the event and then outlasted the late bid of Hannelore Hanover (Yannick Gingras) to prevail by a head in 1:52.4. Emoticon Hanover may eventually garner divisional honors while reigning horse of the year Hannelore Hanover may get a few sentimental votes.

Then one race later in the Auld Lang Syne event for older pacers, Roger Mach'Em gained command early and led throughout to score by two lengths. Foiled Again (Gingras), in the final local outing of his Hall of Fame career, faded after a long, first over journey. With 106 wins and over $7.6 million banked, the 14-year-old Dragon Again gelding trained by Ron Burke will continue his farewell tour next Sunday at Rosecroft Raceway in an aged pace invite on the undercard of the $100,000 Potomac Pace.

Then two races later in the $175,000 TVG Mare pace, Shartin N (Tetrick) lived up to her role as the 4-5 favorite when she gained command from the rail through the first turn, rebuffed a first over bid from Blue Moon Stride on the far turn then held sway late as 55-1 outsider Apple Bottom Jeans rallied for the place spot in 1:50.3. Shartin N has won 19 of 24 starts and earned just over $1 million this season and has clinched divisional honors and the Jim King, Jr. trainee will be in the discussion for pacer of the year and harness racing horse of the year.

One race later in the $390,000 Three Diamonds final for two-year-old filly pacers, Prescient Beauty (Doug McNair) left to gain command in a sharp 27.1 opener, yielded to 8-5 second choice Zero Tolerance (David Miller) before the half in 55.1, sat a tight pocket as favored Warrawee Ubeaut (Gingras) offered a serious first over bid on the far turn, angled outside at the head of the lane and overhauled the top two choices late for a neck score in 1:50.4.

Then one race later in the $470,000 Goldsmith Maid final for two-year-old filly trotters, after a recall caused by the favorite, favored Sonnet Grace (Gingras) brushed to command before the half in 57 flat, met serious pressure from Evident Beauty (David Miller) through the far turn and by three-quarters in 1:26.2 then just held sway through the lane while getting rough nearing the wire to score in 1:54.2 as the tepid 2-1 choice.

One race later in the $450,000 Governor's Cup final for two-year-old colt pacers, Captain Crunch (Scott Zeron) benefited from a second over journey and secured the division title when he rallied widest of all to score by three lengths over Max Power in 1:50.3. A juvenile son of Captaintrecherous trained by Nancy Johansson, Captain Crunch rebounded from a dull effort in the elim to prevail handily in the Governor's Cup and that to his score in the Breeders Crown last month at Pocono Downs.

Then one race later in the $350,000 TVG Open Trot in an event that was designed to highlight the top older trotters, a pair of three-year-olds would settle the issue. Tactical Landing (Brian Sears) lived up to his role as the 4-5 favorite when he overcame a long, first over bid to wear down fellow sophomore Six Pack for a two-length score in 1:51.4. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Tactical Landing had previously won the Breeders Crown final and looms the likely favorite to capture divisional honors in a moderate crop.

One race later in the $400,000 Valley Victory final for two-year-old trotting colts, Southwind Avenger (Dexter Dunn) benefited from patient handling and a pocket trip through the first three quarters, angled out in the lane and overhauled Chin Chin Hall (Peter Wrenn) in the lane through a driving rain storm to prevail in shocking style in 1:55.3.

Then two races later in the $350,000 TVG Open for older pacers, McWicked (Sears) easily lived up to his billing as the 1-9 favorite and cemented his case for harness racing's horse of the year when he overcame a first over bid to wear down Filibuster Hanover (Scott Zeron) and edged clear from Dealt A Winner (David Miller) to score by two lengths in 1:48 flat. The five-year-old McArdle stallion trained by Casie Coleman kept his win streak alive and secured his status as the top pacer of any age in the land.

While McWicked may not be heading south for the Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Racewy next Sunday, the next three finishers, Dealt A Winner, Filibuster Hanover and Western Fame will likely make the trip to Maryland.

That same evening at Yonkers, Always At My Place (George Brennan) overcame an extended first over bid to capture the $44,000 Open Handicap in gritty fashion as the second choice. The race also included a pair of older pacers possibly heading south for the Potomac Pace, Great Vintage and Mach It So, both of which were hampered by their assigned outside posts. Mach It So has competed in each of the first two editions of the Potomac for trainer Jeff Bamond, Jr.

Then two races later in the $35,000 3 & 4-Year-Old Open, Air Strike (Brent Holland) gained command in a modest 28.2 opener, got a breather by the half in 58 and strolled by three-quarters in 1:26 then drew clear to a five-length score in 1:54. A four-year-old Always A Virgin gelding owned and trained by Erv Miller, Air Strike notched his 11th win from 32 starts this year and pushed his seasonal earnings past $120,000 with his second win in three starts in this event and fourth win in his last five outings overall.