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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - With precisely zero races being won on the front end during the first nine dashes on the harness racing card, trainer Bruce Saunders must have liked his chances with his Betalady in the 10th race, the featured $22,500 winners-over $11,500 for fillies and mares on the pace Friday night at The Meadowlands. After all, in her Big M return a week ago, the 4-year daughter of Bettor's Delight-Lady Jake swung four-wide into the stretch to gun down favorite Tango Dancer N at the wire. It worked so well, in fact, she tried the same tactic this time around. Betalady got away from the gate fifth from post position six in the seven-horse field as Bye Bye Felicia sprinted the opening panel in :27.1. Yannick Gingras made an aggressive move soon thereafter with Wingding Hanover at the three-eighths to grab the lead and was sailing along on the point at the half in :55.4. Tango Dancer N, the 3-1 second choice, was now in play first-over with Betalady following the tow of the second-over She's Nun Bettor N on the rim. When the field hit the top of the stretch, Wingding Hanover was still moving well on the lead as Corey Callahan swung Betalady off her third-over journey four-wide for the stretch drive. At the eighth pole, Wingding Hanover was clear by about 2 lengths, but Betalady just kept on coming, and in a thrilling finish, got up by a nose in 1:51.2 after pacing her final quarter in :26.1. She's Nun Bettor N was third. "Last week, she was explosive as well," said Saunders. "I've only had her short term, but she's been sensational. We debated putting her in the Blue Chip Matchmaker [at Yonkers] but she made breaks in her last two starts there. She's a very good filly." Betalady, owed by M&L of Delaware, returned $4.80 to win as the 7-5 favorite. She's won eight of 33 career starts - including three of her last four at The Big M - and now has earnings of $191,786. "I would prefer to race against her own age group," said Saunders. "But we have seen mares step up and do well against older foes. If we find our spots, in today's world, with The Meadowlands, Pocono and [Harrah's Philadelphia], hopefully, she can have a six-figure season and then we'll have a nice 5-year-old next year. I wouldn't trade her for any 4-year-old racing right now." Betalady A LITTLE MORE: Simon Allard pulled off a natural hat trick by taking the seventh, eighth and ninth races to lead the driver colony with three winners on the program while the red-hot Jeff Cullipher had a training triple. ... Driver Tony Beltrami piloted the winners of both divisions of Leg Three of the GSY Series for amateur drivers for trainer Williams Hernandez. ... Betting topped the $3-million mark for an eighth straight card, as a total of $3,073,616 was put in play. The sixth race took the most action, with $395,624 pushed through the windows, highlighted by big pools in the Exacta ($110,920) and 50-cent Pick-4 ($92,918). ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - According to the past performances, Lyons Steel would need a lot of things to go his way bumping up in class to emerge victorious in Saturday night's harness racing co-featured $22,500 winners-over $11,500 conditioned pace at The Meadowlands. And as it turned out, they did. Following a perfect second-over trip, the razor sharp 6-year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven-Lyons Luck blasted home off cover to pull off a 6-1 surprise, and in the process, upped his winning streak to three. After floating away from the gate from post five in the seven-horse field, driver Corey Callahan had Lyons Steel in sixth at the quarter. Early leader, and 5-2 second choice, Italian Delight N, yielded to My Pal Joe at the half (:55.3) as the flow started to develop on the rim. Rockin The Aces went first-over to press My Pal Joe as Lyons Steel drafted in behind with 4-5 favorite Springsteen third-up while Italian Delight N stayed patient in the pocket. In the stretch, the scramble was on as Lyons Steel tipped three wide and flew home to record a 1½-length win over a fast-closing No Easy Day in 1:51. Rockin The Aces held third. Italian Delight N was fourth with Springsteen a no-excuse sixth after not firing through the lane. "He's a nice horse," said Callahan. "Maybe he's not the same horse as Springsteen, but Springsteen is in and out. I was worried about him being on my back, but when I moved my horse off his cover, he paced hard to the wire. Tonight, he got the trip and it worked out well." Lyons Steel returned $15.40 to his backers in winning for the 26th time from 116 lifetime starts. Trained by Dennis Watson and owned by BD Racing, he now has a lifetime bank account worth $371,224. Lyons Steel In the $22,500 co-featured winners-over $11,500 trot, Scirocco Rob scored as the 2-1 favorite for driver Daniel Dube and trainer Mark Silva in 1:53.2. The 6-year-old gelded son of Explosive Matter-Fun At Parties made the top while parked at the quarter, putting 4-1 third choice Kenziesky Hanover in the pocket. They raced that way into the stretch, when Kenziesky Hanover emerged from the two-hole to take a short lead, but Scirocco Rob found more and out-gamed his foe to the wire to record a neck win, denying Callahan a sweep of the top two events on the card. Rich And Miserable was third. "The other horse went by us," said Dube. "But my horse fought back. He's got a big heart." Scirocco Rob returned $6.00 in recording his 25th lifetime victory from 77 starts. His earnings now stand at $515,004 for owners Lewis Whitaker Jr. and Kathleen Whitaker. Scirocco Rob BETTING BIG AGAIN: All-source wagering totaled $3,871,820 on the 15-race card, with the most action on a single race being the first, when $389,159 was pushed through the windows. Betting came up just short of topping the $7-million mark for a fourth consecutive weekend, with a total of $6,952,141 put in play. The sixth race 50-cent Pick-4 was the biggest single pool of the night with $112,023 in bets taken. A LITTLE MORE: Western Fame rocked the clock in the sixth race high-end conditioned pace, hitting the wire in 1:48.4 after leading at every call for Dube and trainer Shane Tritton. The only horse to go faster this year is Let It Ride N, who went 1:48.1 on Jan. 2 at The Big M. ... Dexter Dunn had a driving triple for a second consecutive night to up his track-leading driver dash-win total to 45. ... Tritton trained three to victory lane. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It was one for the harness racing chalk players and one for those who like bombs in the two $17,500 Play Meadowlands Series Finals at The Meadowlands Friday night. In the division for pacing fillies and mares, Its Mesmerise N completed a two-race sweep of the event for trainer Darran Cassar and driver Scott Zeron. Sent to the gate as the 1-5 public choice for a second straight start despite facing a tougher field this time around, Zeron had the 7-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Cullens Charm in the three-hole early before brushing to the top at the half, which was clocked in a quick :54.2. Windsong Parisian, the 10-1 fourth choice in the 10-horse field, applied pressure to the leader while first-over past the half and three-quarters (1:22.1) and appeared to be done off the turn as they straightened away in the stretch, but she kept on digging all the way to the wire through a slow final quarter of :30.2 to come up a neck short of pulling off an upset. Misty Memory N was third.   "I wish I could have bided my time a little more," said Zeron of moving Its Mesmerise N to the lead. "She raced unbelievably given the pressure and the fractions. When I had to move as early as I did at the half, it was a bit of a concern and the immediate pressure didn't help. [Windsong Parisian] raced well. Both fillies cruised around the last turn and both hung in there down the lane. I think my horse is classier than these horses. I had been racing her from off the pace because she likes a target but had been a victim of being too far back. She showed tonight she can do it any which way." Its Mesmerise N paid $2.60 to win after completing the mile in 1:52.3 for her 18th lifetime win from 69 starts. She now has earnings of $117,364. Longshot lovers got their way in the Play Meadowlands for trotters as driver Steve Smith saved ground with Take A Wish from start to finish before bursting through between rivals late to score at 30-1 in 1:55.2. After racing Take A Wish at the rail in eighth in the 10-horse field in the early going, as the flow developed on the rim, Smith advanced the Dawn Anderson trainee to the four-hole along the inside at the half. Remaining glued to the cones around the far turn, Smith waited until there was room and came with a rush in deep stretch to score the upset by a head and return $62.40. Life Well Lived closed well on the far outside to get second while third-place finisher Gruden, the 2-1 favorite, failed in a second straight attempt to go wire-to-wire.   Take A Wish, a 6-year-old mare by Wishing Stone-Take A Taste, won for the 12th time from 85 lifetime outings and upped her earnings to $210,836. A LITTLE MORE: Handle topped the $3-million mark again as a total of $3,080,321 was put in play on a 13-race card conducted over a sloppy track that saw snowy conditions for the first third of the program. Wagering has now surpassed $3 million on three straight Fridays, and 10 times overall for the 14 cards conducted thus far in 2021. ... Driver of the Week Dexter Dunn kept on rolling, racking up three winners to up his Big M leading-driver victory tally to 42. He's scored 15 times over the last four programs. ... No one hit the 20-cent Pick-6, setting up Saturday's wager with a carryover of $7,222. .... First-race post time on Saturday is 6 p.m. The Pick-6 begins in race eight. Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com. For full race results, click here. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Wagering on harness racing at The Meadowlands continued to bustle Saturday night, as betting blasted past the $4-million barrier for a third time in 2021, the same number of times that was accomplished during all of 2020. Action was huge from the get-go on the 15-race card as a total of $367,134 was pushed through the windows on the opener, $86,011 of which was bet on the 20-cent Pick-5. Action was at least $330,000 on races six, seven and nine before the 10th race took in the most play of the night, with $370,062. The sixth race 50-cent Pick-4 saw $105,648 pushed through the windows and resulted in the wager’s biggest payout of the meeting. Twenty-to-one long shots won the opening and payoff legs of the bet, resulting in a payoff of $17,959. In sharp contrast, the 10th race Pick-4, which saw a total pool of $94,171, saw two even-money shots, a 5-2 and a 3-1 combine for a payout of $78.55. The all-source total wagered on the card was $4,082,528, an average per race of $272,168. Betting has exceeded $7 million for the last three weekends at The Big M. That plateau was reached three times during all of 2020. THAT’S A HALF-DOZEN COUSIN: Driver Dexter Dunn continued his brilliance in the bike at the current Big M meeting by winning six times on the program. The 31-year-old native of New Zealand, the two-time defending United States Harness Writers Association Driver of the Year, won a total of eight races over the weekend, upping his Big M driver-colony leading win total to 39. ‘JOE’ BEATEN, ‘JL’ CRUISES: A pair of fan favorites sat atop the marquee in the co-featured $22,500 winners-over $11,500 events, one on the pace and the other on the trot. Tulhurstsantanna A worked out an ideal trip in pulling off a 21-1 upset in the pace. The driver of the 8-year-old gelded son of Santanna Blue Chip-Ballroom Belle had designs on leaving the gate, but Andy McCarthy thought better of it. “I put his nose on the gate and thought about stepping out,” said McCarthy. “But I aborted that mission when I saw everybody else had the same idea and managed to work out a sweet second-over trip.” Western Joe, the 4-5 favorite who was seeking his second straight score in the weekly feature, brushed to the lead while parked past the half in :54.2, but was pressured by long shot Points North shortly thereafter, which set it up for a closer. McCarthy tipped Tulhurstsantanna A off the cover provided by Points North as they straightened up in the stretch but still had one major player to worry about. “I knew [3-1 second choice] Springsteen was on my back,” said McCarthy. “He’s very fast, that horse, but my horse, he keeps horses at bay. He knows what to do.” In winning a third straight at The Big M, Tulhurstsantanna A returned $44.20 to his backers after completing the mile in a lifetime-best equaling 1:49.4 on a night with a feel-like temperature of 19 degrees. Springsteen finished a half-length back in second, with Italian Delight N third and Western Joe fourth in the eight-horse field. Trained by Andrew Harris and owned by Douglas Overhiser, Tulhurstsantanna A raised his lifetime stats to 24 wins from 144 starts, good for earnings of $191,454. In the marquee trot, JL Cruze chalked up his third win in his last four Meadowlands outings, scoring by a half-length over Scirocco Rob in 1:52.4. Rich And Miserable was third. “He’s a classy old horse,” said winning driver Dunn of the 10-year-old gelding by Crazed-Topcat Hall. “And it’s a pleasure to sit behind him every week.” JL Cruze left alertly from post eight in the eight-horse field and opted to race in the five-hole early on. “I got him out of there and we took a seat,” said Dunn. “It’s not usually the way he races, but I was pretty confident we would run them down.” The even-money favorite followed the live tow of 7-1 third choice Scirocco Rob down the backstretch, and once leader Winnerup was done, it was down to those two. Under confident handling from Dunn, JL Cruze reported home an easy winner after tipping off cover, scoring for the 43rd time from 127 career starts for trainer Eric Ell and owners W. Kenneth Wood, J. Dittmar Jr. and S.J. Iaquinta. His lifetime bank account now stands at a gaudy $1,572,392. A LITTLE MORE: Scott Zeron and Corey Callahan both recorded driving doubles while the red-hot Jeff Cullipher trained a pair of winners. … Shrewd 20-cent Pick-6 players made a big score, as with only one long shot (22-1) winning during the sequence, those with winning tickets walked away with $12,891. Of the other five winning horses, two were favored, while the other three went off at 5-1, 5-2 and 3-1. … Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – In what was a frantic finish to a fabulous Friday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands, Get Legs went another powerhouse mile in scoring from off the pace in the $19,000 marquee dash for non-winners of nine races lifetime on the trot, upping his lifetime stats to six wins in seven starts, all taking place at The Big M. “You can’t map out the trip,” said winning trainer Julie Miller. “But you hope it works out in the end. We were very fortunate.” Maybe so, but Get Legs was also very good. Get Legs was away quickly from post seven, as was 7-5 favorite Some Chapter from post eight in the eight-horse field. The problem was, virtually all the horses to their inside also left the gate, leaving Get Legs and Some Chapter, who was seeking his fifth win in six starts, extremely wide around the first turn. With the two favorites resigned to having to come from the back of the pack, HL Revadon had the lead at the quarter while parked out by Cool Clifford, but soon thereafter, Gotwuteverittakes made a bold move to the top only to be pressed by 29-10 third choice Swan In Motion. The quick action down the backstretch assured a closer would get the money, and at three-quarters, Magical Winner K tipped off his cover and was first-up leading a three-wide flow as 27-10 second choice Get Legs followed that live tow with Some Chapter tracking from third-over as three-quarters was timed in 1:25.3. Andy Miller steered Get Legs to the outside for the stretch drive, and after trotting a final quarter in :27.2, grabbed the victory by a half-length over Magical Winner K, who raced well beyond his 44-1 odds. Some Chapter was a valiant third. “I just have so much confidence in my horse and driver,” said Julie, the better half of team ‘Orange Crush’. “My horse was supposed to race last week at Pocono but the card got canceled, so I was afraid we might be a little short. He rose to the occasion.” Get Legs, a 4-year-old son of Muscle Hill-Legzy, returned $7.40 to his backers after completing the mile in 1:53.4. He now has earnings of $46,610, and if all goes as hoped, there will be a lot more to come. “We’ve staked him to the 4-year-old races this year,” said Julie. “I would love to take on the big dogs, but he’s kind of behind the eight ball with his limited experience. I think my slow play game will benefit him. When we have to race the better horses, we hope to be prepared.” The game plan is to be ready for the Graduate Series in May. “I’m not going to feed him to the wolves unless he’s ready. If we think he is, we’ll be there,” said Julie. View the Meadowlands results click here A LITTLE MORE: Julie and Andy have another potential good one on their hands. Earlier on the card, their Hipster K, another 4-year-old trotter, made it three wins in as many lifetime starts in a non-winners of two. The son of Sebastian K S-Riley’s Dream became the first 1-9 winner of the meeting, returning $2.20 for a $2 wager after finishing his mile in 1:55.4. … Despite four favorites winning during the sequence, the 20-cent Pick-6 returned $825.40 thanks to Waterway, who scored from off the pace with Corey Callahan driving in the 12th race at odds of 23-1. … Andy McCarthy led the driver’s colony with three victories on the card. … All-source wagering totaled $3,131,740, the second consecutive Friday where wagering exceeded the $3-million mark. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It appeared not to be Western Joe's night in the featured $22,500 winners-over $11,500 pace Saturday night at The Meadowlands after getting passed at the three-quarter-mile marker, but the veteran warhorse showed his class through the stretch in a thoroughly dominant harness racing performance to chalk up a second win in his last three Big M starts. "I wasn't surprised that he came back to win," said winning trainer Chris Choate. "When he hits that last turn, it looks like he's going to finish fifth, but then he kicks in." Driver Simon Allard had 'Joe' - a 7-year-old gelded son of Western Ideal-Ante Fay - on the go from the get-go, barreling four-wide into the first turn from post eight in the 10-horse field and taking over the top just after quarter, which was set by Western Fame in :27.3. As the 3-5 favorite, Western Joe was sailing along on the engine after a rated second fraction of :28.4, when shortly thereafter, Paduka N popped out the three-hole and came after the leader hard, grabbing the lead at three-quarters by three-quarters of a length while parked after a furious backside brush. Then Western Joe got serious, finding another gear off the far turn and exploding clear at the eighth pole, powering away from a weary Paduka N on the way to a 1¾-length score in 1:51.3. Hudson Phil and Decision Day rallied to get second and third, respectively. Paduka N weakened and finished last. "He raced very well last week," said Choate of Western Joe's third-place finish to Springsteen and No Easy Day at The Big M. "I didn't want to see him come first-up, but the two horses that beat him weren't there tonight. He's a hard knocker. "He stalls somewhat on the turns. I don't know why. Ninety percent of the time he does that. Why, I'm not sure. But as long as he keeps on winning......." Now victorious in 31 of his 99 lifetime starts, Western Joe, who established his lifetime-best of 1:47.3 in taking the 2018 Sam McKee Memorial at The Meadowlands, returned $3.20 to his backers in lifting his earnings to $726,858 for owners Anthony Ruggeri and Richard Tosies. "I'm not sure if he can go with the big boys anymore," said Choate. "We'll stay at The Meadowlands as long as there are races for him. The Borgata Series at Yonkers is an option. We have a week to decide, but that's up to the owners." BETTING CLOSE TO $4 MILLION: With four races seeing action that exceeded the $300,000 mark, all-source wagering came close to topping the $4-million mark for a second consecutive Saturday night. Total action on the 15-race card was $3,966,231 to cap a second consecutive weekend that saw over $7 million pushed through the windows. Through the first 11 race cards of 2021, wagering has been at least $3 million on seven occasions and over $4 million twice. During all of 2020, the $3-million barrier was busted 11 times while action exceeded $4 million on three programs. BIG GAME WINNERS: Forevernalways completed a two-race sweep of the Big Game Series for $12,500 claimers for trainer Nick Sodano in 1:52.3 as the 9-5 favorite. Dexter Dunn was in the sulky. In the Big Game for non-winners of $11,500, Tulhurstsantanna A and driver Andy McCarthy scored in 1:51.1 as the 7-2 second choice, giving the Andrew Harris trainee a sweep of the two-race event. A LITTLE MORE: A carryover of $21,961 led to a total pool of $79,254 in the 15th race 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta, and those lucky enough to have tickets with the winning combination of 2-6-3-4-10 cashed in for $10,094.20. ... Dunn paced the driver colony with four winners, lifting his Big M leading dash-win total to 31. Scott Zeron and Todd McCarthy had two apiece. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Alexa Skye maintained her spot as the hottest horse in all of harness racing, blowing away a solid field in the Friday night featured $22,500 winners-over $11,500 pace for fillies and mares at The Meadowlands. “She’s made a believer out of me,” said her trainer Brett Pelling. And everybody else, for that matter. Sent to the gate as the 3-5 favorite, driver Todd McCarthy asked for speed from Alexa Skye from post eight in the 10-horse field, and speed is what he got, as after Dbldelitebrigade N led at the quarter, McCarthy moved his 4-year-old mare to the top well before the three-eighths. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Pirouette Hanover led by 1½ lengths at the half despite a rated fraction of :28.4. Then, Alexa Skye sprinted the third panel in :26.4 to extend her lead to 3½ at three-quarters. But she still had more. Her final quarter of :27.3 saw her hit the wire in 1:51, 4¼ lengths in front of second-place finisher The Bandit Queen N. Dbldelitebrigade N held third. “She’s always been a really great-gaited filly,” said Pelling. “But when I look back now, in her defense, when she started off in her 3-year-old year she was driven hard and used hard and I don’t think she liked that. In the latter part of the year [during a season when she went seven-for-17 and earned $63,430], Todd started driving her but she drew bad posts. She closed in three or four races in a row, and ever since then, she has been strong. “We do sometimes not consider how young they really are. She was a June 12 foal so she was three months behind a lot of the horses she raced against. That’s how I see it.” Alexa Skye’s strength has been unquestioned of late, as she’s won six of her last eight and eight of her last 11. “Her start at Yonkers [when she missed a head after going parked the mile one week ago] had to be seen to be believed,” said Pelling. “But she bounced back and looked even better tonight.” Alexa Skye, who returned $3.20 to her backers, has now won 12 of 33 lifetime outings, good for earnings of $149,890 for owners Blue Chip Bloodstock and John Lengacher. The Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for older pacing mares at Yonkers Raceway – which begins March 12 – is what Pelling has his eye on for his prized pupil. “That’s a very tough series for a 4-year-old,” said Pelling. “That’s going to be very tough on her.” Maybe so, but the way she’s going right now, Alexa Skye is the one with the target on her back. THAT’S A ‘HI’ CARRYOVER: No one correctly selected all five finishers in the 13th race 10-cent Hi-Five, creating a $21,961 carryover for Saturday’s 15th race. A LITTLE MORE: Todd McCarthy led the driver’s colony with three winners, while Andy McCarthy, Yannick Gingras and Simon Allard all had two apiece. … One shrewd player betting into the Belmont Park hub had the only winning ticket in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 and walked away with $10,886. … All-source wagering totaled $3,116,295, the first time on a Friday this year that betting broke the $3-million barrier. … Wagering has been at least $3 million six times thus far in 2021. During all of 2020, that magic number was reached on 11 occasions. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m.   BIG M SATURDAY HI-5 HAS $60,000 GUARANTEE At the conclusion of a stretch-long scramble in the 13th and final race at The Meadowlands Friday night, no one had a winning ticket in the track’s 10-cent Hi-Five, which will no doubt create much interest in the wager Saturday evening. With 9-1 shot Imageofarocker scoring from off the pace, and 23-1, 91-1 and 74-1 chances finishing second, third and fifth, respectively, there were no winners in the wager that requires one to correctly select the top five in the official order of finish. As a result, there was a carryover of $21,961, leading Big M management – in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering initiative – to guarantee the pool at $60,000 for Saturday night’s 15th race. Free program pages for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Powered by a pair of races that featured huge harness racing action, all-source handle totaled $4,083,026 Saturday night at The Meadowlands, the second time this month where wagering blew past the $4-million plateau. During all of 2020, the $4-million barrier was broken three times, the first of which did not occur until June 20. Saturday's play marked the second-best night of the year, topped only by Jan. 2, when wagering reached $4.5 million. All five Saturday programs during the month of January have seen action of at least $3.4 million. The 20-cent Pick-5 got things off to a big start, with $105,890 put in the hat, keying the first race grand total of $379,815. The sixth race 50-cent Early Pick-4 took in a 2020-best $135,815 as a total of $417,983 was pushed through the windows on that dash. Rarely will wagering top $300,000 on the last race of the night, but that's just what the Big M faithful put in play (actually $300,670) in the 14th event, keyed by an exacta pool that topped $95,000. The Late Pick-4 saw $107,428 pushed through the windows, marking the second time this year where both Pick-4s reached six figures. The other night (Jan. 2), Pick-4 betting totaled a little more than $223,000 while on Saturday, the total wager was $243,243. JL 'CRUZES': Fan favorite JL Cruze came back to his favorite track and took the featured $22,500 high-end conditioned trot in impressive fashion. JL Cruze The Eric Ell-trainee rebounded off a sixth-place finish in the Open Handicap at Dover Downs 18 days ago with a crisp performance to get back into the win column for a second consecutive start at The Big M, hitting the wire in 1:54.4 on a night where the real-feel temperature was 19 degrees. A 10-year-old gelded son of Crazed-Topcat Hall, driver Dexter Dunn guided JL Cruze away quickly from the rail in the nine-horse field with designs on sitting right in behind speed-burner Warrior One. It worked to perfection. After Warrior One cut out fractions of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:26.4, Dunn moved JL Cruze from the pocket well before they completed the far turn, took a 1-length lead with three-sixteenths of a mile to go, and drew clear to 2-length win over Buck Dancer. Scirocco Rob was third. Warrior One weakened to finish seventh. "We had his knees done," said Ell. "I thought he was about 80 percent heading into the race. He flipped a palate [in his last race] at Dover. The five-eighths mile track doesn't suit him, but I took him there to put a line on his card so he wouldn't have to qualify." JL Cruze, who was the first trotter to break the 1:50 barrier at The Big M when he went 1:49.4 six years ago, returned $6.80 to his backers as the lukewarm 2-1 favorite. He now has 42 wins from 125 career starts and a bulky bankroll of $1,555,517 for owners W Kenneth Wood, J Dittmar Jr. and S J Iaquinta. "I hope The Meadowlands keeps filling races for him to go in," said Ell. "When Dexter pulled him on the turn and he opened up, I said to myself 'He's an unbelievable horse. He loves what he does'." A LITTLE MORE: Springsteen took the $22,500 featured pace for Todd McCarthy and trainer Brett Pelling from off the pace in 1:51.2 as the 5-1 third choice. ... Dunn and Andy McCarthy both recorded driving triples on the card, while Corey Callahan, Todd McCarthy and Yannick Gingras won two apiece. ... For a second straight night, the red-hot Jeff Cullipher barn sent two to the winner's circle. ... Chalk players finally had a good night. After only 10 post-time choices had emerged victorious over the three previous race cards, a total of six chalks scored on the program. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - With so many accolades having come his way over the last two years, driver Dexter Dunn can be forgiven for not being aware he had reached a big harness racing career milestone Friday night at The Meadowlands. The 31-year-old New Zealander, who dreamed as a youngster of playing for the All Blacks, a famous rugby club back in his homeland, was his usual aw shucks self after winning his 1,000th career North American race in the second with Roger Rabbit on a frigid night at The Big M. "I didn't know I was close," Dunn said. If that's the case, he probably does not remember that his first win came in June of 2011 with McClelland in a high-end conditioned pace at The Big M. Dunn returned home after that season and was not seen back in the States again until 2017. He won 93 races in 2018 before rising to the top of the sport in 2019, winning 460 times for earnings of over $12 million. Then came his remarkable 2020, when he was named the United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year for a second consecutive season, winning 395 times in a COVID-shortened season while being the only pilot to earn over $10 million, with a bank account that swelled to $11,163,638 by year's end. And he wants to do even more in 2021. "It's a new season and we'll start all over again," Dunn told the United States Trotting Association's Ken Weingartner. "I always want to do better. It will be hard, but I'm going to try. I'm always up for a challenge. I love a challenge." Dexter Dunn guides Roger Rabbit to victory lane Friday night at The Meadowlands Dunn swept the early double Friday to give his backers a handsome return of $120.00. His two victories gave him 23 at the current meeting, tops in the driver standings. A year ago, he led all Big M pilots with 131 trips to the winner's circle. A LITTLE MORE: Todd McCarthy and Simon Allard led the driver's colony with three winners apiece. ... Despite having last raced on Nov. 28, the Shane Tritton-trained Lady Dela Renta A hit the wire first in the featured $22,500 high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares in 1:54.1 with McCarthy in the bike as the 7-2 second choice in the betting Lady Dela Renta A . ... Corey Callahan equaled Dunn by winning twice. ... The red-hot Jeff Cullipher recorded a training double. ... One sharp player raked the pot in the 20-cent Pick-6, cashing in for $10,352 after a sequence that saw winner's odds of 1-1, 2-1, 7-2, 8-5, 3-2 and 9-1. ... Favorites continued to come up short as only three scored on the card. Over the last 41 races, post-time choices have won but 10 times, for a win percentage of 24. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,938,681. All four Friday programs in January have seen wagering of at least $2.8 million. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - With real-feel temperatures that got as low as 12 degrees, it was tough to stay warm at The Meadowlands Saturday night, but harness racing driver Yannick Gingras and The Big M betting faithful were unaffected by the winter chill. The 41-year-old Gingras was scalding hot at the start of the card, winning four of the first five races. While Gingras has had many four-winner nights at the mile oval it's hard to imagine he's had very many with the kind of prices his followers collected Saturday. Ollie's Ztam got Gingras' night off to a good start with a wire-to-wire win at odds of 9-1 in the opener before 8-1 chance Big City Bud came from off the pace to complete the Gingras Early Daily Double that returned $163.40. "The Green Hornet" guided Pogey Beach to a 10-hole score to complete a natural hat trick at odds of 11-1, before Gingras completed his grand slam with 5-2 Warrawee Unique, who went gate-to-wire in race five. Three of Gingras' winners hailed from the Ron Burke barn. All-source wagering continued to show huge Saturday night returns, as a total of $3,404,537 was put in play, marking the fourth consecutive Saturday in 2021 (and fifth straight dating back to 2020) where betting topped the $3.4-million mark. During all of last year, betting reached the $3-million plateau 11 times, only once during January. Warrawee Unique As usual, the two Pick-4 wagers proved popular, as a total of $182,844 was put in play on the preferred puzzles. The 20-cent Pick-6 had a carryover of just under $7,300, which led to a total pool of $36,159. The sharpies who had all half-dozen correct collected $6,365.90. ONTARIO STANDOUTS  While the COVID-19 shutdown continues at Woodbine at Mohawk Park, trainer Carmen Auciello won twice on the card with a pair of Ontario shippers. Buck Dancer, who last raced on Dec. 21 at WMP, impressed going wire-to-wire in the $15,500 featured trot for non-winners of $11,500 in their last five starts. Andy McCarthy guided the 7-2 second choice, a 5-year-old gelded son of Guccio-Shaken Not Stirred, who stopped the clock in 1:53.4. Auciello's Points North took the $22,500 pacing feature for non-winners of $15,000 in their last five outings. Mark MacDonald, who broke an oh-fer at the meeting with a driving double, guided the 6-year-old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere-Northwest Hanover - who was sent to the gate as the 6-1 sixth choice - to his fourth straight score after hitting the wire in 1:51.3. The Jeff Cullipher barn is out of its early-meet slump. The Big M's second-leading barn at the Fall Meeting equaled the "Burke Brigade's" three wins on the Saturday card. A LITTLE MORE Simon Allard recorded his second consecutive driving double. ... Dexter Dunn also won twice, giving him six winners for the weekend and 21 at the current meeting, which leads all Big M drivers. ... George Napolitano Jr. also guided a pair to victory lane. ... Chalk players took it on the chin, as only three public choices emerged victorious on the card. Before both favorites took the Late Daily Double, only two chalks had won over a 21-race span. ... Free past performances for every race of every Big M card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The wins just keep on coming for harness racing driver Dexter Dunn. The 31-year-old New Zealand native, who was named the United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year for a second straight time last week, registered four winners on the Friday night card at The Meadowlands. Before the start of the program, Dunn was awarded The Big M's Driver of the Week after winning seven times last weekend (Jan. 15-16), and now sits atop the standings at the mile oval with 19 victories in the early stages of the Winter-Spring-Championship Meeting. Dunn's backers got to cash in some nice prices, as after winning with 1-5 public choice Billion Dollar Day ($2.60 to win in race one), the track's leading driver (with 131 wins) during 2020 scored with Smooth Aceleration ($11.40 in the fifth) and Tango Dancer N ($12.40 in the featured 10th) before completing his grand slam with Alexander Hanover ($14.40 in the 13th). Tango Dancer N Another Down Under standout, Australia native Andy McCarthy, had a big night as well, scoring three times during the night. His fans were smiling after those races as McCarthy's winners (Rockin Panda, Always Mindy, Sheikh Yabooty N) were sent to the gate at odds of 7-2, 7-1 and 10-1. Sheikh Yabooty N PICK-6 CARRYOVER: With a sequence that began with a 10-1 chance and a 27-1 long shot, no one hit the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover for Saturday night's program of $7,293. Those who had five winners cashed in for $347.34. Free past performances for the entire Saturday card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com. HIGHS AND LOWS: With three odds-on choices scoring during the sequence, the 20-cent Pick-5 returned $75.90. In sharp contrast, the Early 50-cent Pick-4 saw no winning favorites and a healthy payout of $8,987.35. A LITTLE MORE: Simon Allard drove two winners on the program while Kelvin Harrison registered a training double. ... Play in the two Pick-4s was predictably vigorous, as the two pools combined to see over $160,000 in action. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,806,228, the third consecutive Friday where at least $2.8 million was pushed through the windows. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Before the start of Saturday night's harness racing card at The Meadowlands, driver Dexter Dunn was named the United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year for a second consecutive season in a virtual Dan Patch Awards ceremony that the entire sport could view on the internet or at any simulcast venue. Then Dunn went out and showed why that considerable amount of hardware sits on his mantle. The 31-year-old New Zealand product, whose 131 wins during 2020 led all Big M drivers, registered four scores on the 15-race program - after winning three on Friday - to seize control of the top of the Meadowlands' standings with 15 victories in the early stages of the Winter-Spring-Championship Meeting. Dunn scored with 4-5 favorite Some Chapter in the opener, a high-end conditioned trot, and followed that up by guiding 7-1 shot On Accident to the winner's circle in the third in a low-end conditioned pace. Thndrfrmthethron N, the 9-5 second choice, was winner No. 3 in another low-end conditioned pace in the fourth, before Dunn capped his grand slam with 3-2 public choice Italian Delight N in a mid-range conditioned pace in the eighth. Thndrfrmthethron N HANDLE TOPS $3 MILLION AGAIN: For a fourth consecutive Saturday, all-source wagering surpassed $3.4 million, as a total of $3,458,896 was put in play. Over the last four Saturdays, betting at The BIg M has totaled $15,386,226, an average per card of $3,846,556 at the industry's handle leader. THARPS IS THE KING: Backers of provisional driver Devon Tharps may not have known that the 27-year-old Ohio native who works for Tony Alagna had never won a pari-mutuel race in his previous 52 tries, and when the second race was over, those who bet him didn't care either way. Tharps guided Acting Out to a victory from off the pace in the Martin Luther King Remembrance Race, an event that pays tribute to the civil rights leader that features African-American drivers. Tharps and Acting Out were fifth at the three-quarter-mile mark before pacing home in :28.3 to upset the field of $12,500 claimers at odds of 9-1, returning $21.60 to win after completing the mile in 1:54.4. Acting Out A LITTLE MORE: Shnitzledosomethin worked out a perfect pocket trip and took the featured $22,500 high-end conditioned pace in 1:49.4 for trainer Dylan Davis and driver Corey Callahan. The 12-1 outsider returned $26.80 to his backers in upping his win streak to three. ... Callahan finished the night with three winners. ... If you missed the Dan Patch Awards show, you can see it from start to finish by going to The Meadowlands YouTube channel. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Stellenbosch withstood bitter pressure in a dazzling harness racing effort on a rainy Friday night at The Meadowlands, taking the $18,000 featured high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares in wire-to-wire fashion. Driver Scott Zeron, who raced Stellenbosch from off the pace after drawing outside posts in her previous two outings, fired away from post four in the nine-horse field, grabbing the lead on the first turn before hitting the quarter in :26.4. There was no spot for Callmequeenbee A, who left from post eight, and that one had to rough it uncovered on the rim. She engaged Stellenbosch in a cut-throat battle to the half over the track rated 'good' in an eye-popping :53.4. Enter 6-5 favorite Ivana Flybye N, a Woodbine at Mohawk Park shipper that hadn't raced in 26 days, who circled up three-wide around the far turn under a full head of steam on the way to an apparent score as Callmequeenbee A predictably faltered. But Stellenbosch wasn't having it. Zeron and the 2-1 second choice kept to their task as Ivana Flybye N flattened out and went on to a 2½-length win. The pocket-sitting She's Nun Bettor N out-finished Ivana Flybye N in the race for place. "Because I had driven her aggressively in the past," said Zeron. "I knew I could leave with her. We took back with her two weeks in a row and were waiting for the right spot. I definitely didn't think she would be that good for the final half-mile but if she was ever going to be at her best, it was going to be tonight. Everything led up to her putting forth a good effort." Despite the soggy conditions, Stellenbosch, a 7-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Catch A Wish who paid $6.00 to win, lowered her previous lifetime best by one-and-three-fifth seconds, hitting the wire in 1:50.2. The Scott Blackler trainee, who is owned by Millar Farms, now has 14 wins from 102 lifetime starts and earnings of $184,474. A LITTLE MORE: The off-going didn't alter the form as seven favorites scored on the 14-race card. Overall, winner's odds were 3-1 or less for 12 of the races. ... Dexter Dunn and Yannick Gingras led the driver's colony as both won three races on the program. ... Jeff Cullipher and Ron Burke had training doubles. ... All-source handle totaled $2,878,592. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. ... Check out the Dan Patch Awards show on the live Meadowlands feed. It gets underway at 5 p.m. after which Dave Brower will interview a special guest in another edition of "In the Sulky".   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Faithful fans of The Meadowlands product produced another huge night of harness racing action at mile oval, as for a third consecutive Saturday betting topped the $3.6-million mark. All-source wagering on the 15-race card totaled $3,646,603. Just like one week ago (Jan. 2), a big first race guaranteed 20-cent Pick-5 pool set the tone for the night. The wager carried not only a $100,000 pool promise but had a $25,000 seed as well, which was provided by track management and the Standardbred Owners Association of New Jersey. In the end, the total P5 pool represented $195,759 of the $411,664 bet overall in the opener. Play was steady all night long, as three times single-race totals exceeded the $300,000 mark. The track's Pick-4s were predictably popular with players, as a total of $180,909 was pushed through the windows on the two wagers. Over the last three Saturdays, betting has totaled $11,927,330, an average per card of $3,975,776. NO REGULAR JOE Grizzled veteran Western Joe used a quick brush to grab the top before the half and flaunted his back class from there, crushing his foes in the featured $19,000 high-end conditioned pace. The 7-year-old gelding by Western Ideal-Ante Fay, who is trained by Chris Choate, stopped the clock in 1:50 with Dave Miller driving to win for the 30th time from 97 career starts. His earnings now stand at $712,908. As the 2-5 favorite, he returned $2.80 to his backers. Paduka N was 3¼ lengths back to finish second. Rockin The Aces was third. Western Joe   THAT'S EIGHT, MATE Driver Todd McCarthy capped a superb weekend with four winners on the card. The 27-year-old recent Australian transplant, who also won four times Friday night, was the key to the 20-cent Pick-5 payoff of $25,057, winning three times during the sequence, including a score at 29-1 with Effronte A in the fourth race. THAT'S A HALF-DOZEN, COUSIN Dave Miller matched McCarthy by winning four times Saturday after recording a driving double Friday. Fans of "The Buckeye" will have to do without the Hall of Famers talents for a while, as Miller is now heading to Florida for the winter. He plans to do some driving at Pompano Park. A LITTLE MORE There was something for everybody during the races, as seven favorites clicked during the night while four winners were sent to the gate at odds of 11-1 or more. Marcus Miller guided two of those, scoring at 11-1 and 39-1. Three of those long shots scored in the 12th, 13th and 14th races, leading to a $1 Pick-3 that returned $2,858.00. ... Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available at playmeadowlands.com. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - For a guy who didn't arrive until four months ago, Todd McCarthy continues to impress in harness racing's toughest driver colony. The 27-year-old McCarthy continued to do good things since his arrival from Australia, winning four times on the Friday night card at The Meadowlands. The five-time driving champion at Australia's Menangle Racetrack finished second at the recently concluded Fall Big M Meeting, ending up just four winners behind leading pilot Dexter Dunn, the native New Zealander who won 46 races. Break The Deal got McCarthy's big Friday off to a good start in the opener, taking a low-end fillies and mares pace in 1:52.4 as the 8-5 favorite for trainer Tom Shay before recording three more victories with non-chalks. The Double Deuce raced uncovered around the far turn on the way to taking the fourth race, a low-end conditioned distaff pace, for trainer Nancy Takter as the 5-1 third choice in 1:53.1 before another 5-1 chance, the Noel Daley-trained Darkrshadeofpale N, won the fifth race mid-range fillies and mares pace in 1:51.4 as the fourth choice in the betting. The "Todd Squad" were smiling once again at the conclusion of race eight, when Godspell Hall tipped off perfect cover to score as the 9-2 third choice in a mid-range conditioned trot in 1:53.2 for trainer Nifty Norman. Darkrshadeofpale N JOEY UPSETS IN FEATURE: Driver Dave Miller put 13-1 long shot Joey on the front early, and the 6-year-old gelded son of Yankee Glide-Jodi's Jayme went all the way to take the featured $19,000 high-end conditioned trot in 1:53.1. Seeking his third consecutive win, 4-5 favorite Some Chapter used a huge brush down the backside to challenge the eventual winner, but flattened out on the far turn before coming back to battle Joey through the stretch, only to come up a neck short in a superb try. A LITTLE MORE: Dexter Dunn guided three winners on the card while Dave Miller had a pair. ... The Julie Miller-trained, Andy Miller-driven Get Legs stayed perfect in five lifetime starts after winning the 11th race non-winners of three trot in a lifetime-best 1:53.1. ... All-source handle totaled $2,804,088. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. when the first race 20-cent Pick-5 kicks off. The Meadowlands and the Standardbred Owners Association of New Jersey have teamed up to seed the pool with $25,000. The wager sports a $100,000 guaranteed pool. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Handle reached remarkable heights and Let It Ride N stamped himself as the top harness racing horse currently in training on an eventful Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Wagering on the 15-race program totaled $4,562,477, which topped the "non-event" 2020 best of $4.1 million on June 20, when there were 18 races on the card. The average per race was $304,165, a number not seen since Hambletonian Day, when an average of $358,163 was put in play. From the get-go Saturday, the action was fast and furious, as $565,076 was bet in the first race, thanks to $314,217 in "new money" wagered into the 20-cent Pick-5, which saw a total pool of $360,948 after the carryover of $46,731 was added in. Another $468,040 was wagered on the sixth race, due in large part to an Early 50-cent Pick-4 pool of $120,947. The Late 50-cent Pick-4 was predictably popular as well, with $102,248 in action leading to $351,354 in total play. The single-race $350,000 barrier would be broken four times during the night. RIDE, RIDE, RIDE: The incredible early success of the Nifty Norman-trained Let It Ride N continued in the featured $28,000 Open/Preferred Handicap for pacers, as the 8-year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven-Love A Gamble stayed perfect in five North American starts since his arrival from Australia in late November. Driver Dexter Dunn didn't ask Let It Ride N for big speed at the start, settling in seventh along the rail from post nine in the nine-horse field around the first turn. Searching for a second consecutive score, Harambe Deo set a fast pace, hitting the quarter in :26.1. Before the half, Dunn had Let It Ride N racing on the rim, following the first-over Rock Diamonds N as Harambe Deo paced the half in :53.2. Nearing the five-eighths, Rock Diamonds N started to back up in the 1-2 favorite's face, so Dunn had to move three-wide likely earlier than he would have liked. It didn't matter. "He had no choice [but to move him]," said Norman of Dunn's aggressiveness. "But the horse has a huge kick and seems to be able to carry his speed a long way." Let It Ride N Let It Ride N gobbled up ground while three-wide around the far turn and collared Harambe Deo shortly after they straightened up in the stretch before blowing his foes away in a thoroughly dominant performance, scoring by 2 lengths over the late-rallying Hesa Kingslayer N after pacing his final quarter in :26.1. Vettel N closed for third. Highalator, the 9-2 second choice, finished seventh, with Harambe Deo (7-1) eighth. "He really amazed me," said Norman of his prized pupil. "He doesn't seem to have any bottom in him. I'm in shock again tonight. He's got an amazing brush. What impressed me the most, is once he passed Harambe Deo, he kicked off again like he had another gear." Let It Ride N, who won at The Meadowlands on Dec. 12 in 1:48.4 and now has three wins at the mile oval, lowered his lifetime best to 1:48.1. He's now won 23-of-59 lifetime starts and earned $360,958 for owners Enzed Racing Stable Inc. "He's 8 years old," said Norman. "You don't expect 8-year-olds to do this. All I've done is put him on Lasix, so he must have been bleeding back home. Next, I'll take him to Yonkers to see if he can get around a half-mile track. We might try the [Borgata] series there. I'm going to have to stake him to some races this year. He looks like he can be a Grand Circuit horse. I have to give him that chance." A LITTLE MORE: Dunn and Yannick Gingras picked up right where they left off in 2020, as each won three times on the card. ... Norman had a training double, as did Stacy Chiodo. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. ... The Big M will race every Friday and Saturday from now through Hambletonian Day, Aug. 7. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

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