Tracks offer solid Saturday cards

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Ted Black

February 20th, 2016

One week after both tracks cancelled their Saturday night programs amid the frigid temperatures and biting winds that enveloped the Mid-Atlantic Region last weekend, both Yonkers Raceway in New York and The Meadowlands Race Track in New Jersey will offer their usual array of competitive overnight races again tomorrow night.

Of course, anytime horses return from missing a week - even if that applies to nearly the entire field - players should often approach with caution. But there appear to be several solid plays on both cards.

In the Yonkers opener, a non-winners of $18,000 last five starts class for pacers, give the nod to Santanna One (Brian Sears) who has been second once, third once and fourth once in four winless starts to begin the campaign. Santanna One has also been very unlucky in three of those post draws, but gets the rail for this event and should find the winner's circle for the first time this season by edging Keystone Honor and Blatantly Best, who will start from posts six and seven, respectively.

Then several races later in the fifth, another non-winners of $18,000 last five starts class for older pacers, look for The Court Jester A (George Brennan) to earn his first victory in the United States. A six-year-old Life Sign gelding and Aussie import, The Court Jester A was a solid fourth in his seasonal debut here on Feb. 6 and gets the nod over class-dropper Fameous Western, the only other horse in the field to have raced that night.

Two races later in a non-winners of $25,000 last five starts class for older pacers, look for railbound Melmerby Beach (Jason Bartlett) to gain the early advantage and eventually get the better of older stalwarts Sunfire Blue Chip, Casimir Jitterbug and Madiba Magic N, who drew the three outside slots here. Justified (Eric Abbatiello) has won three straight against lesser despite poor posts and merits respect in this spot.

Then one race later in the $32,000 Open Handicap in which all eight posts were assigned by racing secretary Steven Starr, give Open newcomer Roland N Rock (Daniel Dube) the nod from post two. A four-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Rob Harmon, Roland N Rock has won three of four starts over the strip and crushed conditioned foes in his last two outings, posting consecutive 1:52.2 and 1:52.3 clockings that were faster than the Opens carded those nights.

Roland N Rock gets the nod over prior Open winners Phil Your Boots and Atta Boy Dan, handed posts seven and eight, respectively, and Dover Downs invader Bad Boy Matt. Polak A was a solid second in the Open on Feb. 6 after consecutive scores against conditioned rivals.

Then several races later in the Saturday finale, another non-winners of $25,000 last five starts class, look for railbound Supreme Mach N (Daniel Dube) to garner his first win of the season. A decent third in his last try at this level, Supreme Mach N gets the services of Dube after trainer Jeff Dauplaise handled him in each of his two previous outings. Orillia Joe won two starts back and draws alongside him, while Ideal Matters and Machs Beach Boy make their seasonal debuts.

That same evening at The Meadowlands, the Big M feature is the eighth, a non-winners of $17,500 last five starts class that looks like a competitive affair. Ashley's Husband (Brett Miller) won at this level last star, while Yonkers invader Aslan won the Open Handicap there two starts back. Rockeyed Optimist (Tim Tetrick), a good second in his seasonal debut here on Feb. 6 against similar, should be tighter off that effort for trainer Steve Elliott, while millionaire and multiple-stakes winner Limelight Beach (Yannick Gingras) makes his seasonal debut for trainer Ron Burke.

Then three races later in the 11th, a non-winners of $11,500 last five class for older pacers, look for Dune Dude (Gingras) to notch his first win of the season in this spot. Unlucky while second over and favored in his most recent outing here, Dune Dude gets the nod over Cobalt Man (Tetrick), Calvin N (Billy Dobson) and Gratias Deo (Marcus Miller) in this spot courtesy of a favorable draw and driver change.

Then on Monday evening at Dover Downs, keep close tabs on Lucan Hanover, who makes his seasonal debut in the $30,000 Open/Preferred Handicap for older pacers. Bushwacker has been the best horse in the country to this point and certainly has a chance to rebound off last week's effort, but Lucan Hanover has ample back class and will likely need a few starts to reach peak form before heading back to Yonkers for the lucrative, ultra-tough George Morton Levy Memorial Series that gets under way on Saturday, March 19.