Big Chocolate rallied from the back of the field to win one of two $20,000 eliminations for the Peter Haughton Memorial Friday night at Meadowlands Racetrack. Heavy rains soaked the harness racing track early in the card, creating sloppy conditions for the 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings. That didn't stop Big Chocolate from accelerating down the stretch to capture his first career win in 1:57.
Owner Richard Keys of Chicago, IL bred the colt by- Shez Mine. Big Chocolate was driven by trainer Homer Hochstetler and paid $14.80 to win.
"I just kind of stayed in the back and wanted to see how thinks shook out," said Hochstetler. "It wasn't the greatest of trips but he's strong enough. If he gets led up he usually trots straight to the wire and he did tonight. He raced really well last week and that was only his second start. I thought he would be stronger tonight."
Lightning Storm and driver Yannick Gingras rallied in similar fashion, gunning down the leaders in the stretch, also winning their elimination in 1:57. The son of-Lightning Flower was a $90,000 yearling purchase from the Lexington-Selected Sale for owner Tom Dillion of Anson, ME. Steve Elliot bred the Jonas Czernyson trainee. Lightening Storm returned $12.00.
The $400,000 Peter Haughton Memorial Final will be contested on Hambletonian day, August 6. Astarsborn Hanover, Blomkvist, No Frosting, Nothing But Class, Possess The Will, Power Play, Quit Smoking Now and Trojan Horse will join Big Chocolate and Lightning Storm in next week's final.
Friday's card also featured a pair of $20,000 eliminations for the $333,200 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old trotting fillies.
In the first elimination, Miss Paris [$8.00] shook loose and sailed up the outside, trotting to victory in 1:57.2 with Dave Miller at the lines. The daughter by-Pizza Dolcewas purchased as a yearling for $210,000 at the Lexington-Selected Sale in Kentucky. Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David Mc Duffee own the Nifty Norman trainee.
Check Me Out [$3.00] romped in the second elimination with Tim Tetrick at the lines, winning her Meadowlands debut in 1:56.1. The daughter of-Illusion is perfect in five starts for trainer Ray Schnittker, who co-owns the filly with Charles Iannazzo.
The field for the $333,200 Merrie Annabelle Final on August 6 is Aunt Mel, Bluff, Check Me Out, D'orsay, Love Walked In, Miss Paris, Quarantine S, Sterling Volo, Swinging Nadine, Upside Hanover
Action Broadway set a new lifetime mark of 1:52.3 in the $25,000 Miss Versatility Open for mares. Virgil Morgan Jr trains the 7-year-old daughter of-Photo With Molly. She now has nine wins this season for owner Kenneth Sommer of Sheffield, OH.