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Ted Black

January 18th, 2016

Last Saturday night's standardbred action at Yonkers Raceway in New York and The Meadowlands in northern New Jersey proved to be formful and revealing, but onlookers should look for several horses that settled for minor spoils to find the winner's circle soon. In Saturday's $25,000 Open Handicap at The Meadowlands, Bushwacker (Tim Tetrick) continued his winning ways by taking the weekly feature at the New Jersey one-mile oval for a third straight week by prevailing by nearly two lengths over Atta Boy Dan (Yannick Gingras) in 1:50. A five-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Chris Ryder, Bushwacker has won all three of his starts this year and five of his last six outings and looms as the best horse in the land right now. Bushwacker began his ascent to the head of the class last month at Dover Downs by taking the $30,000 Open Handicap there in 1:50 and then 1:50.2 in successive weeks before settling for second to Atta Boy Dan in another meeting. But Bushwacker has certainly been dominant this month at the Big M, taking the Open by two lengths in 1:50.1 on Jan. 2, ralllying first over to score one week later in 1:49.3 then made it three straight tallies with his win on Saturday night in 1:50. That same evening at Yonkers Raceway, Justified (Eric Abbatiello) kicked off the card by taking a non-winners of $12,000 last five starts class by five lengths in 1:53.1. Allowed to settle into midpack early, Justified angled out first over past the half, swept to command on the far turn and drew clear in the lane to his initial tally this year. The eight-year-old Mr Feelgood gelding paced his back half in 55.1 for the sharp score and can come right back at this level next weekend. Then two races later on the card, Urbana Bayama (George Brennan) delivered a similar effort in another non-winners of $12,000 last five split. Away in fifth, Urbana Bayama angled out second over nearing the half, followed Rockstar Stride's live cover through the clubhouse turn, raced first over down the backside and through the far turn then drew clear in the lane to a three-length score in 1:53.1 for trainer Paul Blumenfeld. He can also come right back at this level next weekend. One race later on the card in yet another non-winners of $12,000 last five split, Winds Of Change (Jason Bartlett) delivered a gritty effort in defeat. Making his seasonal debut on a night when closers appeared to have the advantage, Winds Of Change set honest fractions of 27.3, 56.3 and 1:25 on a clear lead then gave way in the lane and settled for second as Jeneral Patton (Daniel Dube) scored in 1:53.1. Winds Of Change fits a much cheaper class now, but could win at this level next out. One race later in a tougher non-winners of $25,000 last six starts class for pacers, Sunfire Blue Chip (Brian Sears) exited the Open at the Meadowlands and led throughout as the 3-5 choice to score in 1:53. A six-year-old Allamerican Ideal stallion trained by Jimmy Takter, Sunfire Blue Chip notched his first win in three starts this year and can actually come right back at this level next weekend. Then one race later in the $32,000 Open Handicap, Melmerby Beach (Bartlett) delivered a game effort while second in the top class in his seasonal debut. Away in good order from post two, Melmbery Beach raced unpressed through modest early fractions and then was overhauled late by Aslan (Sears) but was hardly backing away at the wire. The five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere stallion owned and trained by Ettore Annunziata should benefit from that outing. Then much later in the finale, Casimir Jitterbug (Sears) continued the perfect start to his campaign when he led throughout to capture a non-winners of $18,000 last five starts class by two lengths in 1:53.4. A nine-year-old Sir Luck gelding trained by Tony O'Sullivan, Casimir Jitterburg had beaten slightly tougher in his seasonal debut, dropped in class and prevailed again. He jumps back into the non-winners of $25,000 last five class that he won on Jan. 9.