Homeracing

Meadowlands, Pocono Downs, Rosecroft and Yonkers offer solid Saturday cards

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Ted Black

May 5th, 2019

In the wake of the controversial finish and subsequent disqualification in the Kentucky Derby, harness racing fans had ample action to consume at The Meadowlands, Pocono Downs, Rosecroft Raceway and Yonkers Raceway.

Then just before the midway point of the Meadowlands card on Saturday night, Donttellmeagain (Tim Tetrick) lived up to his role as the 3-5 favorite in the $30,000 Preferred when he brushed to command before the half in 55.1, raced unpressed through the far turn and by three-quarters in 1:22.4 then held safe Sunfire Blue Chip (Andrew McCarthy) to score by over a length in 1:49. A five-year-old Dragon Again gelding trained by Jim King, Jr., Dontellmeagain notched his first win in two starts this year and now owns 19 wins and $660,000 banked from 37 career tries.

Just past the midway point of the Saturday card at the Big M in the first of two $50,000 Graduate Series divisions for four-year-old pacers, Lather Up (Montrell Teague) benefited from ample early action and live cover down the backside and through the far turn and rallied widest of all in the lane to nail Lyons Steel (Scott Zeron) in the lane in 2:02.4 for the one-mile and one-eighth. A four-year-old I'm Gorgeous stallion trained by George Teague, Jr., Lather Up scored in his four-year-old debut and now owns 16 wins and nearly $1 million banked from 26 career outings for owner-breeders Gary & Barbara Iles.

Two races later at the Meadowlands in the $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters, Cruzado Dela Noche (Brian Sears) benefited from a lively early tempo down the backside and through the far turn, swept to command at the head of the lane and outlasted the late surge of Trolley and Will Take Charge to score by a head in 2:07.3 for the one-mile and one-eighth. A seven-year-old Muscle Massive stallion trained by Marcus Melander, Cruzado Dela Noche prevailed in his seasonal debut and now owns 16 wins and $1.3 million banked from 60 career tries.

Then just before the midway point of the Saturday card at Pocono Downs, Always At My Place (Anthony Napolitano) forged a mild 3-1 upset in a non-winners of $22,500 last five starts class for older pacers. Always At My Place left to secure good position behind 4-5 choice Scott Rocks, sat a loose pocket behind the odds-on choice down the backside and through the far turn and just got up along the inside to prevail by a head in 1:49.1. The Ron Burke trainee has always displayed ample ability and can occasionally uncork sub-1:50 miles.

Toward the latter portion of the Saturday card at Pocono Downs in the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational for older pacers, Highalator (Richard Still) left to gain command in a 26.1 opener, yielded the 3-5 favorite Western Fame (Simon Allard) before the half in 54.1, sat a tight pocket down the backside, found room at the head of the lane and just got up late to score by a neck of Bettor Memories and The Wall in 1:49.4. Western Fame had missed one week since taking the $665,000 Levy final at Yonkers, but he offered no resistance as Highalator overhauled him in the lane under superb handling by Still.

Rosecroft Raceway offered a six-pack of early, non-betting Maryland Sire Stakes eliminations before the Derby and several of the winners tuned up smartly for their respective, $70,000 MDSS finals on the Saturday, May 18 "Sophomore Showdown" card that will cap the meet.

Among the most impressive winners in the non-betting events, Fire'N Woodshed (Roger Plante, Jr.) remained undefeated when he left to gain command, yielded to Whoopdee Goo (John Wagner) before the half, sat a loose pocket down the backside and through the far turn, angled out at the head of the lane and easily got up late to score in 1:54.1. A sophomore son of Lockkeeper trained by Kerry Welty for owner-breeder Brian Emerson, Fire'N Woodshed recorded his fourth win in as many starts and pushed his career earnings toward $20,000.

One race later in the MDSS elim for three-year-old colt pacers, Trump That Rusty (Eddie Davis, Jr.) overcame an early miscue and a long, first over bid and wore down Where's Barry (Plante) to score by two lengths in 1:54. A sophomore son of Rusty's For Real trained by Dylan Davis, Trump That Rusty notched his third win from five seasonal outings after going winless in 10 starts as a juvenile. But he will likely yield the favorite's role in the final to one of the later winners.

In the last non-betting race of the Rosecroft early card prior to the Derby, Berzerker (Tony Morgan) left to gain command in a 26.4 opener, maintained an honest tempo to the half and three-quarters then drew clear late to score in 1:53.1. Another sophomore son of Rusty's For Real owned and trained by Brandon Murray, Berzerker has now won both of his starts this year and five of eight career outings and looms the favorite for the $70,000 MDSS final for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings on the "Sophomore Showdown" card.

In one of the early races on the betting portion of the card, Fashion Smile (Jonathan Roberts) lived up to his role as the even-money favorite in the $11,000 Open Handicap for trotters when he gained command in a brisk 26.4 opener, maintained an honest tempo to the half in 57 flat and by three-quarters in 1:26 and held safe Speed It (Wagner) late to score in 1:55.1. The eight-year-old Broadway Hall gelding trained by Megan Roberts has won two straight and now owns 33 wins and $210,000 banked from 126 career tries.

Then three races later in a non-winners of $6,000 last four starts for older pacers, Banderbear (Morgan) left to gain command and cleared past the opener in 27 flat, yielded to Romantic Interest (Frank Milby) before the half in 54.2, sat a loose pocket down the backside and through the far turn, angled out at the head of the lane and drew clear late to a two-length score in 1:51.4. The five-year-old Big Bad John gelding owned and trained by Gary Ewing notched his third win from 13 seasonal outings and now owns 13 wins and $135,000 banked from 54 career outings.

Then two races later in the $11,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, Sams Triple Crown (Wagner) overcame a long, first over bid to overhaul Star Messenger (Morgan) on the far turn and through the lane to score by a head in 1:50,1 as the 9-5 favorite. A five-year-old Art Official gelding owned and trained by Jerry Nock, Sams Triple Crown notched his third win in 10 starts this year and now owns 20 wins and nearly $170,000 banked from 72 career outings and he should be a major player in the $15,000 Maryland Invitational here on closing night.

Then just past the midway point of the Saturday card at Yonkers, New Heaven (Brent Holland) forged a mild 6-1 upset when he rallied from well off the pace and third over and rallied widest of all in the lane and nailed Eye Ofa Tiger As (Jason Bartlett) for a head score in 1:55.1. A five-year-old Yankee Glide gelding trained by Eric Abbatiello, New Heaven notched his fifth win in 12 starts this year and now owns 22 victories and $320,000 banked from 70 lifetime tries.

One race later in the $44,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, Caviart Luca (George Brennan) rallied from well off the pace to forge an 8-1 upset in 1:52. An eight-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding trained by Burke, Caviart Luca now owns four wins in eight starts this year and sports 32 victories and over $810,000 banked from 147 career outings. Pacing Major (Jordan Stratton) rallied second over at 23-1 to finish second for trainer Peter Tritton.
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