Day At The Track

Trio of finals held at the Meadowlands

08:32 PM 01 Mar 2015 NZDT
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JL Cruise, harness racing Rockeyed Optimist, harness racing
JL Cruise and driver John Campbell win the Singer Final
Lisa Photo
Rockeyed Optimist and Brett Miller win the Sonsam Finall
Lisa Photo

A trio of Winter Series FInals that were a part of the Saturday card that had to be cancelled due to weather last week, went postward tonight at The Meadowlands.  The Sonsam, Burning Point and Charles Singer Memorial Finals were the feature events on the 13-race program.

Rockeyed Optimist entered the $59,000 Sonsam Final off a powerhouse performance that included a 25.4 final quarter.  Tonight, he had to work a little bit harder to earn the victory, but earn the victory, he did. 

Sent off as the 4/5 favorite, Rockeyed Optimist was away in the back-half of the field through fractions of 27 and 55.2. It was at that point, that the 8/5 second-choice, Major Uptrend moved first over to challenge for the lead.  Rockeyed Optimist set himself up third over, just off the helmet of Rediscovery, through three-quarters of 1:23. 

Turning for home, Major Uptrend grabbed the lead and reached for the wire, but Rockeyed Optimist was lurking in the wings as he fanned out off cover and powered home to score in 1:50, equaling his lifetime mark.  The win was the fourth from five starts in 2015 for trainer Steve Elliot.  He was driven to victory by Brett Miller for owners Anthony Perretti, Berkner, A&B Stable and Battaglia.  Miller was very impressed with his gelding.

"He really impressed me (last week)," said Miller, referring to his monstrous final quarter.  "He just powers home.  Tonight I was a little worried in the first turn, we were pretty far back.  But, he raced giant.  He dug-in in the stretch.  This is real horse."

On the trotting side, JL Cruze made it back to back series' wins with his wire to wire victory in the $49,000 Charles Singer Memorial on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Sent off as the 3/5 favorite, JL Cruze would dictate terms from the start, seating Opulent Yankee in the pocket through fractions of 27.4, 56.2 and 1:25.2.  From there, the race was on and the top pair sprinted away from the field, but Opulent Yankee had all to do just to keep up, as JL Cruze ripped through a 26.4 final quarter, reaching for the wire in 1:52.1, a lifetime mark.  Opulent Yankee never got closer than one length. Blocking The Way checked in third. 

Trainer Eric Ell indicated that last week's weather cancellation helped his trotter.  "I was able to get a good mile into him over a decent track at Harrington," said Ell.  "The track at my place I couldn't train on because the weather has been so terrible."

A $32,000 Harrisburg purchase, JL Cruze has exceeded his trainer's expectations.  "No, I didn't expect he would be this good," added Ell.  "We made a lot of changes when we got him and he just keeps getting better.  He tries hard every week.

JL Cruze was driven by his usual pilot John Campbell for owners William Kenneth Wood, William Dittmar Jr and Stephen Iaquinta.

Ell confirmed the Shiaway St Pat trotting series, a more difficult late closer series based on its conditions was next for his prized trotter. That series begins on Friday, March 13th.

The mares went to the post in the $50,600 Burning Point Final in a highly-competitive and select field. Empress Deo was looking for a series sweep and was sent off as the 3/2 betting choice.  The Ron Burke entry of Southwind Serenity and Donttellruss were the 8/5 second choice, while Worldly Beauty winner Witch Dali was sent off at 3-1.

Southwind Serenity established the early pace, gliding through fractions of 27.2 and 56-seconds.  Heading to the half-mile pole, her stable-mate Donttellruss committed first over, but made little headway, forcing Empress Deo three-wide in the middle of the far turn.  In the meantime, Somenicebeach and Ron Pierce were riding a perfect pocket trip behind the lone speed through three-quarters of 1:23.4.  In the stretch, Empress Deo was finding just even pace while Somenicebeach was ripping out of the pocket and pacing right past Southwind Serenity nearing the wire.  Witch Dali was left with too much ground to make up and had to settle for the runner-up spot while Empress Deo could manage only to be third tonight.

Trainer Mark Capone gave credit to his mare who "overcame a rough foot bruise, but has kept racing well despite that, noting that she has earned some time off after this win." He also praised his driver Ron Pierce, citing "Ronnie has put her in a great spot all series and tonight it worked out great."

Somenicebeach earned her third victory of the season for Susan Oakes, pacing the mile in a lifetime best 1:51.1.

The Buddy Gilmour series began with a pair of $17,500 divisions for three year old pacers on Saturday night at The Meadowlands as well. The first division featured National Seelster, unbeaten in both lifetime starts entering the Gilmour.  Sent off as the 1/5 favorite, National Seelster sat third early in the mile, while Fast Movin Train established fractions of 27.2, 56.3 and 1:24.4.  The field began to string out at the five-eighths pole and that is when National Seelster made his move for the lead.  He engaged Fast Movin Train into the stretch and was able to grind that foe down to score in 1:52.

National Seelster was driven by Andy Miller for Chris Ryder and is owned by Robert Mondillo and Oompa's Farm Inc.

The star of the entire Meadowlands program may have been the winner of the second division of The Buddy Gilmour Series, Wiggle It JiggleIt.  Entering his fourth lifetime start with an unblemished record, Wiggle It Jiggle It quickly asserted his supremacy, establishing the lead at once from post position eight. 

The gelding would coast through fractions of 27.3, 56.3 and 1:24.3 before turning for home with an ever-expanding lead.  Under no urging whatsoever, with his pilot Montrell Teague visibly looking around for competition mid-stretch and effectively slowing his horse down nearing the wire, Wiggle It Jiggleit paced home in 26.4 to win emphatically in 1:51.2.

In a pre-race interview Montrell Teague noted the connections have high hopes for the son of Mr. Wiggles.

"We'll race him in the Gilmour series and then shut him down until May," said Teague.  "He's staked so we'll look to some races in New Jersey and focus on The Meadowlands Pace and a couple of other big ones."

Without question, Wiggle It Jiggleit is the most exciting early season prospect of 2015.  The Meadowlands Pace eligible gelding is trained by Clyde Francis for George Teague Jr. Inc.

Both Jackpot Super Hi-5 wagers carried over.  The fifth-race carryover into the Friday, March 6th program is $41,316.79, while the last race carryover has swelled to $148,525.71.  Post time for the Friday card is 7:15 P.M.

 
by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands
 
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