It was just about a walk in the park for driver Yannick Gingras and Always B Miki as that duo breezed to an open length triumph Saturday at the Meadowlands in the $49,015 W.N. Reynolds Memorial.
The start of the harness racing Grand Circuit for three-year-old pacing colts saw Allstar Partner (Corey Callahan) leave and take the early lead from The Lunch Pail (Jim Morrill, Jr.) by the opening quarter mile in :26.2.
Just as they straighten out going into the backstretch, Gingras sent Always B Miki to the front by the half mile marker in :55.4 and then it became a three-horse race past the three-quarters in 1:24.2.
As they started down the stretch, Gingras just tapped his whip a couple of times on the side of the race bike and Always B Miki kicked in another gear and left the rest of the field as they went on to win by two and a half lengths in 1:50.3. Allstar Partner was second with The Lunch Pail third.
Now undefeated in two starts this year, it was the fourth career win for Always B Miki. The clt by Always A Virgin was send off as the 3/5 wagering favorite and paid $3.40 to win. He is trained by Joe Holloway and is owned by the Bluewood Stable of Hopewell, NJ, Val D’Or Farms of Millstone, NJ and the Roll The Dice Stable of Wilmington, DE.
The $30,000 final for the Legends vs Phenoms driving competition threaded through the Saturday night card at The Meadowlands with ten drivers competing over five races for the $15,000 first prize. Each driver was entitled to choose his mount in one of the five races and through the first three they proved to be prophetic with a chosen horse winning each of those races.
As the twelfth race came onto the track as many as six drivers had a chance at the top prize, though point leader Jim Morrill, Jr was forced to watch from the sidelines due to the scratch of his mount.
Corey Callahan seized that opportunity and put his mount, the 9/2 third choice Whataorse, in play early from post ten landing a pocket trip behind dueling leaders. Jim Marohn Jr. sent his charge Prince Sharka to the lead and parked Dave Miller through demanding fractions. When a seam opened in the stretch Callahan slipped through and although he could not track down race winner Stormin Rustler and Steve Smith he did finish second in the race amassing enough points to win the competition.
The final tally was Callahan 36 (winning $15,000), Morrill 35 ($5,000) and Marohn 34 ($3,000). All other drivers were awarded $1,000 for taking part in the competition.
The $30,000 A-2/FFA Handicap Pace was again the stage for Dovuto Hanover to display his irresistible late kick in 1:49.4. Taken back to last in the field of seven by Scott Zeron, Dovuto was as many as a dozen lengths from pacesetter Golden Receiver through soft fractions of 55.4 for the half and 1:23.3 for three quarters.
Zeron navigated his charge into a second over position following Emeritus Maximus into the stretch, fanned off that cover when they straightened up and took virtually the length of the stretch to wear the leader down. Dovuto Hanover once again paced a 25.2 final quarter. Emeritus Maximus edged Golden Receiver for second.
Darran Cassar trains the winner for Martin Scharf.
Racing returns on Friday night with the Simpson for three year old filly pacers and the three year old colt and gelding pacers do battle in the Simpson on Saturday. Friday night features the opening of Victory Terrace, The Meadowlands rooftop bar and lounge and Saturday features the Kentucky Derby simulcast, with gates opening at 9:30 A.M. Live harness racing on both Friday and Saturday is set for 7:15 P.M.
By Steve Wolf, for Harneslink.com (with Meadowlands files)