Older Pacers and trotters highlight Saturday cards

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Ted Black

May 1st, 2016

  • Saturday night may have been the weekend between the George Morton Levy series and the Kentucky Derby, but it featured a bevy of stellar performances from pacers and trotters.
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On Saturday morning at The Meadowlands, JL Cruze (John Campbell) captured a qualifier in 1:53 in his final tuneup for next Sunday's $150,000 Elitlopp Playoff at the Big M. JL Cruze was last year's champion older trotters and he has already won his first three starts of 2016 and looks poised for another solid campaign for trainer Eric Ell and owners Kenny Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta.

That same evening at The Big M, another Maryland Eastern Shore product, driver Corey Callahan, won six races on the card including the feature with Mel Mara in 1:48.2 for trainer Dylan Davis. Mel Mara has faced many of the sport's top older horses in years past and could be ready to climb back into the Open ranks soon.

That same evening at Yonkers Raceway in New York, Melady's Monet (Jason Bartlett) captured the $40,000 Open Handicap for trotters in 1:55.1 as the 3-5 choice for his third win in four starts this year. He will likely head to the Meadowlands next Sunday for the Elitlopp Playoff against JL Cruze, Bee A Magician and Shake It Cerry.

In the opening race on the Yonkers card, Mcerlean led throughout to score in an eye-opening 1:50.2, outlasting One Through Ten for a half-length score. Mcerlean found the Levy series too tough but will likely earn a berth in the Open sometime in May after posting the fastest mile of the night by more than a full second.

Speaking of the Open, Artistic Major won that event in 1:52.1 for trainer Steve Elliott in his four-year-old debut. Trainer Jimmy Takter had a pair of victories with former Levy combatants, Sunfire Blue Chip and Great Vintage, while Stolen Car notched his sixth win of the campaign already for trainer Darren Cassar.