Meadows and Saratoga offer solid Saturday cards

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Ted Black

July 22nd, 2018

Harness racing enthusiasts are accustomed to seeing the best trotters and pacers compete in the evening, but on Saturday they were treated to a blend of action as the Meadows hosted two eliminations for the Del Miller Adios along with a quarter of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races for two-year-old pacing colts, while Saratoga Harness offered a solid card featuring the $260,000 Gerrity for older pacers.

Toward the latter portion of the Saturday afternoon card at the Meadows, a five-eighths oval near Pittsburgh, the track offered a pair of $25,000 Adios elims for three-year-old colts pacers. At one time the Adios was among the sport's signature events, with horses required to race twice on the same day. But like many of the sport's other races that one demanded speed, stamina and durability, the Adios has gradually become just another diluted stakes race on the calendar.

In the opening Adios elim, American History (Yannick Gingras) lived up to his role as the even-money choice when he brushed to command before the half, maintained an honest tempo down the backside, opened a clear lead on the far turn and held sway through the lane to score by nearly two lengths in 1:51.1. A sophomore son of American Ideal trained by Tony Alagna, American History rebounded from a 10th-place finish in the $700,000 Meadowlands Pace final to notch his third win in eight starts this year and his sixth victory in 13 career tries.

Done Well (Tim Tetrick), fourth in the $500,000 Max Hempt final and second in the $760,000 North America Cup final, rallied well to finish second, with Wes Delight (Corey Callahan) and fellow Maryland-bred Summer Travel (David Miller) both advanced to next week's final by finishing third and fourth, respectively.

Then one race later in the second $25,000 Adios elim, Hitman Hill (Brett Miller) left to secure good early position, yielded to Dorsoduro Hanover (Matt Kakaley) before the half in 54.4, sat a tight pocket down the backside and through the far turn, angled out at the head of the lane and wore down the favorite and outlasted the wide, late bid of Thinkbig Dreambig (Jordan Stratton) to score in 1:50.

A gelded son of American Ideal trained by Chris Oakes, Hitman Hill notched his third win in eight starts this year and now owns nine wins and $275,000 banked from 15 career outings. Dorsoduro Hanover, runner-up in the Meadowlands Pace last week, lasted for the place spot while Thinkbig Dreambig overcame excess dull cover to finish third in a very good effort. The second Adios split appears more likely to produce the top two finishers in the final than the opening elim.

Saturday's four, $47,500 Albatraoss divisions for two-year-old colt pacers provided some budding stars in victory and defeat. In the opening split, De Los Cielos Deo (Gingras) remained perfect in three career outings when he scored in 1:51.3, Sugar Factory (Callahan) notched his second straight score when he prevailed in 1:52.1, Ehrmantraut (Davie Palone) rallied inside to score in 1:52.2 then Semi Tough (Gingras) rebounded from a pair of narrow, second-place efforts to score in 1:51.1 for Burke. Proof (David Miller) got shuffled and buried and rallied well to gain the place spot over Captain Malicious.

That same evening at Saratoga Race Course, Ostro Hanover (Billy Dobson) benefited from patient handling early, wicked fractions that eventually doomed favored Topville Olympian and rallied in the passing lane to edge the 3-5 choice by a nose in 1:52.4 in the first $59,000 New York Sire Stakes division for three-year-old colt pacers. A sophomore son of Betterthancheddar trained by Frank Yanoti, Ostro Hanover recorded his seventh win in 16 starts and pushed his career earnings past $80,000 while being unraced at age two.

Then two races later on the card in the second NYSS split for sophomore pacing colts, Rootin Tootin (Jim Morrill, Jr.) lived up to his role as the 2-5 favorite when he raced parked to gain command in a 28 opener, got a breather to the half in 56.3, met token pressure down the backside, shook loose on the far turn and held sway through the lane to score by two lengths in 1:52.1. A Maryland-bred sophomore son of Roll With Joe notched his fourth win in eight starts this year for owner-trainer Blake Macintosh of Courtly Choice fame.

Then one race later in a non-winners of $7500 last five starts class for older pacers - with an also eligible condition of 'winners of 100 races and $7.5 million' specifically written for Foiled Again - Artful Way (Frank Coppola) lived up to his billing as the 1-9 favorite from the rail when he gained command in a 28.1 opener, got a breather by the half in 57.3, shook loose from token pressure down the backside and edged clear late to a two-length score over Foiled Again to score in 1:52.4.

Prior to this past weekend, Artful Way had been a fixture in the Open Handicap at Saratoga and at Yonkers and got ample class relief to notch his ninth with in 21 starts this year for trainer Jackie Greene. Foiled Again benefited from a pocket trip behind the odds-on choice and appeared to lose interest on the far turn then rallied inside to gain the place. He owns a stellar 100-68-45 slate and $7.586 million bankroll from 316 career outings for Burke and the 14-year-old Dragon Again gelding should embark on a farewell tour this summer and fall.

Then one race later in the main event, the $260,000 Joe Gerrity, Jr. Memorial for aged pacers, Evenin Of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno) got away fourth as Rockin Ron (Gingras) and Rodeo Romeo (Dobson) dueled through wicked early splits of 26.2 and 53.4, angled out second over and then swept to command before three-quarters in 1:21.3 and romped home four lengths clear in 1:49.2 as the 2-1 second choice.

A six-year-old Dragon Again stallion trained by Jenn Bongiorno and skillfully handled by her brother, Evenin Of Pleasure notched his second straight win, recorded his sixth win from 13 starts this year while pushing his seasonal earnings past $300,000 and he now owns 33 wins and $1.1 million from 138 career tries. Evenin of Pleasure has emerged as one of the best half-mile tracks in the land and should get an invite to the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial in two months.

Speaking of the Quillen, defending champion Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) benefited from a pocket trip and overhauled favored Rockin Ron in the lane to gain the place spot. The nine-year-old Bettor's Delight stallion trained by Peter Tritton had missed the previous two weeks and had been dull in two prior outings since winning the $200,000 Battle Of Lake Erie at Northfield and will likely get another invite to the Quillen for a mid-September title defense there.

That same evening at Yonkers Raceway, Great Vintage (Mark MacDonald) posted a mild 2-1 upset in the $44,000 Open Handicap for older pacers when he gained command in a 27 opener, got a breather to the half in 56.4, raced unpressed down the backside and through the far turn and held safe the late bid of 8-5 choice Always At My Place (George Brennan) to score by nearly a length in 1:52.4. The 10-year-old American Ideal gelding trained by Jimmy Takter notched his fourth win in 11 starts this year and pushed his lifetime earnings to nearly $1.25 million.

Then several races later on the card, Americanprimetime (Greg Merton) lived up to his role as the 6-5 favorite when he gained command early and led throughout to score in 1:52.4. A six-year-old American Ideal stallion trained by Rick Dane, Jr., Americanprimetime has won three of his last four starts over the New York half-mile oval and now owns a 5-3-1 slate and $75,000 banked from 13 seasonal outings and likely earned a berth in the Open Handicap next weekend.