River Shark stamped himself the one to beat in the $230,000 Berry's Creek as he wired the field in his elimination race Saturday night at the Meadowlands. The top five finishers in each of the evening's two $25,000 eliminations will meet in the Berry's Creek Final on Saturday, May 9.
Elimination winners earned the right to select their post positions in the final, which is the first major stakes test for 3-year-old pacers.
River Shark coasted through splits of :27.2, :57 and 1:24.3, and held off the late flying Western Posse for a 3-4-length tally in 1:51.3. Drop Red rallied along the cones to finish a length behind in third. Anniewesterncard and Pair A Dice also advanced to the Berry's Creek Final.
"I wanted to go easy with him and it worked out," said winning driver Daniel Dube. "I just waited until a horse came up next to him and then went with him. He just does everything right."
River Shark extended his winning streak to four races. His accomplishments include a sweep of the Robert J. Suslow Series earlier this month at the Meadowlands. The son of-Riverview Diamond was a $9,000 yearling purchase at the Lexington Selected Sale. Trainer Dave Sabatelli shares ownerships of the colt with Aaron Waxman, Carmine Fusco and VIP Internet Stable, which acquired an ownership interest in the horse earlier this week.
"VIP Stable made a call last week and asked if we were interested in selling a piece of the horse and we were," Sabatelli noted. "We're happy to have the guys on board. It's a nice way for them to get started tonight.
"He doesn't do a whole lot of training in the week," he continued. "We give him a pretty easy schedule. I think Danny [Dube], Carmine [Fusco] and myself will sit down and talk about it; posts two or three I think is something we will all agree on. It's going to be a wide-open affair."
slipped through an opening on the pylons to win the second Berry's Creek elimination in 1:51.2.
Driver Tim Tetrick andangled out past the quarter, but Sheer Desire and Brian Sears came three-wide and outgunned them to the top in a swift :55.2 half. Sheer Desire led the charge into the stretch until a game Arctic Warrior circled up to his wheel. But Tetrick and burst through in time to stop Arctic Warrior by a neck. Vertigo Hanover shook loose from the rail to finish third. Also advancing to the Berry's Creek Final were Lisagain and Vertical Horizon.
"[Sheer Desire] was just coming so fast," Tetrick said of the early tussle for the lead. "I just felt like I was out, but my horse is a little slow getting into gear. Brian's horse was coming at a million miles, so we were both going for the same spot.
"He's a very nice horse; he's very handy and well taught," Tetrick continued. "I think there are nine other ones to beat, too, not just River Shark. It will be an interesting race."
, trained by Mark Harder, has won five of eight starts this season, including a sweep of the Junior Trendsetter Series in February. Harder shares ownership of the son of -Atraceofmagic with Deena Rachel Frost, Stable 45, and Robert Murphy.
The Classic Series for older horses also continued Saturday night, this time with pacers in the spotlight.
Winbak Speed crushed the competition with an impressive 1:49.2 score in the $85,000 Pacing Classic. Driver Ron Pierce and Winbak Speed were parked out early and had to forge ahead and assume command from Won The West before the half. They rebuffed a sustained challenge from Riggins on the final turn, and pulled away to a 2 3-4-length victory. Frog Juice rallied three-wide to finish second, while Won The West held on for third.
Winbak Speed posted his seventh win in 13 starts and surpassed $200,000 for the season. Lifetime, he is 27 for 103 with a bankroll of just under $600,000. The 6-year-old son ofwas an astute $30,000 claim by Delaware-based trainer Wayne Givens in January 2008 at Dover Downs. The pacer was originally a $15,000 SUNY Morrisville yearling purchase.
ier in the evening, Martha Maxine motored to victory in the $85,000 Classic Distaff for mares.
Martha Maxine came first up to tangle with the leader Darlin's Delight entering the final turn and briefly gained the advantage before Southwind Tempo closed in. The two locked up in a vicious duel down the stretch, with Martha Maxine prevailing by a neck in 1:50.1.
"She was pretty relaxed down the backstretch, so I just waited," Andy Miller said, "but they weren't going any fractions at all. I let her pace up to the leader [Darlin's Delight] around the last turn. She's pretty iron tough. She gets a little aggressive here and there and it catches up to her once in a while, but she doesn't do it much. She can pace so fast and she's so powerful. She's right up there with the best of them."
Martha Maxine, trained by Erv Miller, improved her record to five wins in 10 starts this season. She kicked off the season with a sweep of the Cape & Cutter Series at the Meadowlands and wired the field in the first leg of the Classic Series at Dover Downs. Lifetime, the 5-year-oldmare has won 20 of 40 starts and nearly $450,000 for Erv Miller and co-owners Tony Alagna and Brittany Farms.