While the dust from the Kentucky Derby has just about settled, the stakes season for harness racing's top 3-year-old colts gets underway with the $230,000 Berry's Creek Saturday night at the Meadowlands.
The Berry's Creek is the first major test for the sport's glamour boys and a stepping-stone to the $1 million Meadowlands Pace on July 18. River Shark looms the one to beat with a four-race streak entering Saturday's final, the featured seventh race with an estimated 9:11 p.m. post time. The son ofis rated the 9-5 morning line favorite from post two, with Daniel Dube at the lines. Due to common ownership, he is coupled in the wagering with Vertigo Hanover, who finished a close third in his Berry's Creek elimination.
River Shark has been first or second in seven of eight starts this season. His four wins include an impressive 1:50.4 romp in the Robert J. Suslow Series Final on April 18 and a wire-to-wire score in his Berry's Creek elimination. River Shark was a $9,000 yearling purchase at the Lexington Selected Sale by trainer Dave Sabatelli and co-owners Aaron Waxman and Carmine Fusco. VIP Internet Stable acquired an interest in the gelding last Tuesday.
"He's a real simple horse to train," Sabatelli said. "I just have to keep him sound and happy. He doesn't do a whole lot of training in the week; we give him a pretty easy schedule. The race is going to be a wide-open affair. The other elimination field was tough."
Although River Shark is not among them, seven of the 10 Berry's Creek finalists are eligible to the $1 million Meadowlands Pace. They look to join the company of, , Cam's Card Shark and Hot Lead, each of whom parlayed a Berry's Creek win into Pace glory. was beaten as the favorite in the 2008 Berry's Creek en route to a 1:47 world record upset over .
The Meadowlands' Saturday card also features a pair of $50,000 eliminations that will decide the field for the $250,000 est. Graduate Final for older pacers on Saturday, May 16. The weekend stakes action kicks off Friday night, with the $40,000 elimination for the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for trotters. The top nine will join Swan Image, who accept ed a bye, in the $200,000 est. final on May 16.
Field for the $230,000 Berry's Creek Final, Saturday, May 9:
H, PP, Horse, Driver, Trainer, Odds, Meadowlands Pace Eligible
1, 2, River Shark, Daniel Dube, Dave Sabatelli, 9-5, No
1A, 8, Vertigo Hanover, John Campbell, Duane Marfisi, 9-5, Yes
2, 1, Lisagain, Andy Miller, Erv Miller, 10-1, Yes
3, 3,, Tim Tetrick, Mark Harder, 7-2, Yes
4, 4, Western Posse, Brian Sears, Noel Daley , 10-1, Yes
5, 5, Annieswesterncard, Ron Pierce, Joe Seekman, 8-1, Yes
6, 6, Arctic Warrior, David Miller, Sam Beegle, 8-1, No
7, 7, Drop Red, George Brennan, Robert Horowitz, 4-1, Yes
8, 9, Pair A Dice, John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 15-1, Yes
9, 10, Vertical Horizon, Yannick Gingras, Bjorn Noren, 20-1, No