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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Business at The Meadowlands continued its remarkable early stages of 2021 run, as after a highly-successful first quarter, action at the mile oval stayed vigorous as the second quarter kicked off last weekend with a pair of $3-million handles, upping the total number of harness racing cards that have surpassed that magic number to 18 on the year. During all of 2020, the $3-million barrier was broken a total of 11 times. Much of the success The Big M has experienced can be attributed to the half-dozen popular wagers offered nightly that offer a low takeout of 15 per cent. A prime example is last weekend's action in the extremely popular Pick-4, when the bet - which is offered four times every weekend - took in a total of $367,866 of action, an average per pool of $91,966. Meadowlands management is convinced that when you return more to the bettors, the more bettors will bet. "All of us at The Meadowlands feel that low takeout is a key component in bringing horseplayers of all breeds to wager on our track," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The Big M offers six chances a night to play into low 15 percent takeout pools. Another significant reason to the play The Meadowlands is that we offer only one wager (the trifecta, 25 percent) that has a takeout higher than 20 percent. Judging by our rapidly growing business this year, players around the world seem very appreciative for the built-in value created by our price-conscious wagering menu." Here is the takeout breakdown at the Big M: 15%: 50-cent Pick-4, 20-cent Pick-5, 20-cent Pick-6, 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, 10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5 17%: Win, Place and Show 19%: Exacta, Daily Double 20%: Pick-3, 10-cent Superfecta 25%: Trifecta Saturday night saw betting total $3,444,133, with two popular multi-leg bets showing big returns, with the Pick-4 averaging $101,770 per pool while the first race Pick-5 saw action of $82,960. The ever-reliable exacta, which is available on every race, averaged $72,997, accounting for almost $950,000 of action on the night, more than one quarter of the total handle. Some potent payoffs from last weekend included Friday's Early Pick-4 ($3,556), Survivor ($15,231) and Pentafecta/Hi-5 ($1,224). Saturday's big payouts came in the Pick-5 ($1,632), Survivor ($6,506) and Pick-6 ($12,209). FINAL DERBY PREP: The last prep for the May 1 Kentucky Derby is on Saturday (April 10) as the $1-million Arkansas Derby takes place at Arkansas' Oaklawn Park. The card will be offered as part of an extensive simulcasting menu at The Meadowlands. The Oaklawn card has a post time of 1 p.m. with the Arkansas Derby slated to go as race 12 at 7:41 p.m. The horse to beat is the Joel Rosario-ridden, Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour, who is the even-money morning-line favorite. There are four stakes events on the 13-race program that feature purses of at least $250,000. GET SOCIAL: You can always check in with the team at The Meadowlands on Twitter. For early changes, racing information and staff selections, go to @themeadowlands or #playbigm. On race nights, stay in touch with the Big M's Dave Brower (@eedoogie), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover), Andrew Demsky (@shadesonracing) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1). $100,000 GUARANTEED: Every night, The Meadowlands guarantees big green on both editions of its signature wager, as each 50-cent Pick-4 sports a guaranteed pool of $50,000. The wagers span races 6-9 and 10-13. CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower's selections and commentary. Click on the "handicapping" tab and go to "race reviews". Brower's input is generally available 48 hours before every card. THE SCHEDULE: Live racing continues every Friday and Saturday with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m. Big M TV's live "Racing from The Meadowlands" pre-game show, which provides news and notes, features, a look at that evening's featured action and staff selections, gets underway at 5:47 p.m. BET THE MASTERS: Golf's biggest event of the year, The Masters, tees off Thursday (April 8) morning and the place to watch and wager on all the action is at The Meadowlands' FanDuel Sportsbook. Some of the bets that will be available include Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, who are both +950 to wear the Green Jacket Sunday evening. Next up at +1100 are Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. How about making the cut? DeChambeau leads the way at -1150, followed by Johnson, Thomas and Jon Rahm, all of whom are -1100. How about the top finishing former winner? Johnson is at +175, followed by Spieth (+250), Patrick Reed (+550) and Sergio Garcia (+900). All odds shown were as of Wednesday evening. The sportsbook is open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m.-midnight and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The cash counter is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Colossal Stride A was wound up early in the Saturday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands, so his driver Dexter Dunn had to change the game plan. Colossal Stride A, an Australian import who has been stateside for only a little more than two months, recorded his fourth win in six starts since shipping over from Down Under, taking the $27,500 high-end conditioned pace in a lifetime-best 1:50. In a field that saw one scratch decrease the field size to five, Dunn was on board with trying to win from off the pace with the 3-5 favorite. "I was planning on going to the back and chasing the horses home," said the Big M's current dash-win leader. "But when the gate closed, he hit his leg on my bike, so my horse got a little excited in the first turn, so we moved to the front." Dunn went after early leader Shnitzledosomethin and grinded his way to the top at the half in :54.3. On the far turn, Yacht Seelster, who defeated Colossal Stride A the last time the duo met on March 20, was on the go after moving from fifth after the half and inched closer to the leader as they straightened away for the final three-sixteenths. "My horse heard a noise coming," said Dunn, the two-time defending United States Harness Writers Association Driver of the Year. "When you have a good horse like that chasing you, you never know. But when my horse heard the other horses coming, he accelerated." Colossal Stride A then paced home in :27 to record a 1½-length win over Yacht Seelster. U S Captain was third. COLOSSAL STRIDE A REPLAY   A 6-year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight -Tailamade Lombo who is trained by Nifty Norman, Colossal Stride A returned $3.40 to his backers. He now has 12 wins from 35 career starts, good for earnings of $94,413 for owners Paul Sunderhaus, Derek Menchhofer, En Ess Stable and Enzed Racing Stable. THE FAB FOUR: Leading trainer Jeff Cullipher padded his lead atop the Big M conditioner standings with four winners on the card. Cullipher, whose horses won 125 races during 2020, scored with Lovedbythemasses ($6.20 to win in the third race), Rose Run Vantage ($14.80, fifth), Bechers Brook A ($7.00, seventh) and Dealer's Table ($31.00, 10th). He now has 29 winners at the Big M's current Winter-Spring-Championship meeting, 14 more than Ron Burke, who sits in the second spot. A BETTING BONANZA: All-source wagering totaled $3,444,133 on the 13-race card, the 13th time out of 14 Saturdays this year betting has broken the $3-million barrier. Overall, the $3-million plateau has been reached 18 times out of a total of 27 programs during 2021. A year ago, betting was $3 million or more a total of 11 times. A LITTLE MORE: Betting on the 50-cent Pick-4s was vigorous, as the two popular puzzles combined to see action of just over $203,000. ... Dunn led the driver colony with three winners. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The potent pair of trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras were up to their usual tricks this weekend at The Meadowlands, as after teaming up to take the Friday night feature with April Ava they came right back to take Saturday's marquee event with Dojea Gizmo. Since debuting for the Burke barn on Nov. 13 of last year, the 4-year-old gelded son of Tellitlikeitis-Postmark has been perfect in six starts, visiting the winner's circle at Hoosier Park, Yonkers and Harrah's Philadelphia before his authoritative win at The Big M in a $22,500 high-end conditioned pace. "He is a really nice horse," said Gingras. "He could not have qualified any better [last week]. I was confident coming into tonight." DOJEA GIZMO REPLAY   Dojea Gizmo, who last raced on Dec. 20, was away quickly from post nine in the nine-horse field but was pushed wide into the first turn and had no spot to fall into as J M Mandamin sprinted to the lead at the quarter in :26.2. So the eventual winner had to go on with it. "It's not the way I wanted to race him in his first start of the year," said Gingras, who used a burst of speed to make the top while parked at the half in :54.4. "I wanted to get a spot mid-pack, but I didn't want to be first-up, so I moved to the front." Shortly after clearing the top, Dojea Gizmo was challenged by the first-over 8-5 favorite U S Captain, who won an easier assignment one week ago at The Big M in 1:50.2. Around the far turn, 'Gizmo' gave the chalk the cold shoulder and opened a 2¼-length edge as they straightened up before reporting home a safe neck winner in a lifetime-best 1:50.2. J M Mandamin, displaying speed at both ends of the mile, rallied well along the pylons to get second, with Yacht Seelster, who won this race a week ago, finishing third. "At the wire he was a little tired," said Gingras. "But I knew he was a winner." Dojea Gizmo paid $7.00 to win as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering. He now has 11 victories from 30 starts, good for earnings of $161,273 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Phillip Collura. BEFORE THE BETTING CARD: In a pair of non-betting events before the start of the 13-race program, the John Balzer trained and driven Sound Idea took the $30,000 New Jersey Breeders Maturity for 4-year-old mares in a walkover (a one-horse race) in 2:05.4 while Rockin Jukebox, a Megan Foster trainee who was driven by Russell Foster, was 2¼-lengths better than his lone foe Bourbons Courage in 1:55.4 in the $30,000 NJBM for 4-year-old horses and geldings. A LITTLE MORE: Andy McCarthy, Gingras and Tim Tetrick led the driver colony with three winners apiece while the red-hot Stacy Chiodo trained a pair to victory lane. ... All-source wagering on the program totaled $2,928,308. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - When April Ava won a week ago at The Meadowlands against mid-range harness racing conditioned stock despite not having raced in almost seven months, it wasn't a total surprise since she had performed credibly in her last two starts against similar late last summer. But Friday night at The Big M, the Ron Burke trainee took a considerable bump up in class and won again, taking the featured $22,500 high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares in 1:52.2. "It just worked out tonight," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "The mare responded when I called on her, so you have to give her credit for that." April Ava (post 3) blasted away from the gate, along with Marloe Hanover (post 7), Tango Dancer N (post 2), Betalady (post 6) and Wingding Hanover (post 1) in the nine-horse field. After making their way around the first turn, Marloe Hanover and driver Andy Miller settled in on the lead with April Ava opting for the pocket and Wingding Hanover the three-hole. For the second time in the last three weeks, Betalady, the 3-1 second choice, was left first-over and had to grind it out on the rim while inching closer to Marloe Hanover by the time they reached three-quarters, which was timed in an unspectacular 1:24. Then, the entire look of the race changed. Betalady went off stride, and in the process, took out the second-over Tango Dancer N, as well as the 6-5 favorite, Demeter N, who was in the flow third-up. "I was at the right place at the right time when that horse broke and scattered the field," said Gingras. Gingras and April Ava vacated the pocket as they swung into the stretch and needed every inch of the final three-sixteenths to record a nose victory over a stubborn Marloe Hanover. Wingding Hanover was third.       "I knew I had it at the wire," said Gingras. "The last 100 feet is not Marloe Hanover's strongest, but she kept on pacing. But mine was just a little bit better." As the 7-1 fourth choice in the wagering, April Ava, a 5-year-old daughter of Delmarvalous-Jenava, returned $16.20 to win. She now has 16 wins from just 47 career starts and earnings of $135,806 for owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi. MUCH MORE THAN SO-SO: Driver Jim Foley blasted So So De Vie away from post 10 and led at every call in the $14,000 GSY Series Final on the pace for amateur drivers. On a night where whipping winds were unkind to horses on the point, the 4-year-old gelded son of American Ideal-Place Your Best had little trouble going wire-to-wire in 1:55.3 for trainer Williams Hernandez. Preppy Art (John Calabrese), who was seeking his third straight victory, finished second - three-quarters-of-a-length behind the winner - as the 3-1 second choice with 3-5 favorite Sugartown (Tony Beltrami) getting the show dough.       "I thought being up closer would be the best option," said Foley. "I thought about getting away maybe fourth or fifth and making a brush down the backside, but he got up on the front really easy and all I had to do was rate him. If you can rate him good, he'll give you all he's got." As the 5-1 third choice in the betting, So So De Vie returned $13.60 to win. A LITTLE MORE: Tim Tetrick, who will be the guest Saturday night on The Big M's pre-game show segment "In the Sulky" at 5:50 p.m., drove the winners of both ends of the late daily double, joining Dexter Dunn and Gingras as pilots with two victories on the card. ... Chubby Stallworth and Stacy Chiodo both had training doubles. ... All-source handle totaled $2,637,320. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Yacht Seelster had never been driven by George Brennan, and a week ago, the Nik Drennan trainee displayed blazing speed before getting nipped at odds of 70-1 on the money by Colossal Stride A, yet somehow, with a new driver and a different tactic, Yacht Seelster won the Saturday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands. "They were leaving too fast for me," said Brennan of the early stages of the $20,000 high-end conditioned pace. "I'm looking for the best trip I can get. And it looked like it was going to work out for me." Lexus Witha View A flew off the gate to grab the lead at the quarter in :27.1 as Tito Rocks sat the pocket with 9-5 second choice Ashley Locaz N on the move going after the lead. Brennan and 'Yacht' sat fifth, right in behind the 8-5 public choice Colossal Stride A, waiting for that one to make a move. "I slid in behind him," said Brennan. "I thought he was the horse to beat." Colossal Stride A had such a quick burst of speed down the backstretch that Yacht Seelster had to catch up to his cover, and when Ashley Locaz N did not relinquish the top to Colossal Stride A, Brennan was sitting pretty. In mid-stretch, after three-quarters was timed in an unspectacular 1:23.4, Brennan tipped Yacht Seelster off his cover and gunned down Colossal Stride A at the wire after Ashley Locaz N weakened in the lane. "I didn't know if I had enough to get there," said Brennan. "But [Colossal Stride A] was pretty tough, and some others were swarming in on the outside. I thought I could get up." Racing in the five-path for the final eighth, Yacht Seelster got there by a head in 1:51. Colossal Stride A was second with a fast-closing Franco Totem N gabbing the show spot. As the 5-1 fourth choice in the betting, Yacht Seelster returned $13.80 to his backers. The 6-year-old son of Shadow Play-Yankee Athena, who is owned by Donald Lindsey, Paul Kleinpaste and William Alempijevic, now has 16 wins from 87 career starts and earnings of $236,600.   A COOL DOZEN: All-source wagering totaled $3,147,829. There have been 12 Saturday night programs at The Big M this year, and all 12 have seen betting surpass the $3-million plateau. A COOL HALF-DOZEN: The 20-cent Pick-6 did not see many big prices, but those with winning tickets cashed in huge nonetheless. With a $7,384 carryover serving as the catalyst, the pool totaled $43,520 when all bets were taken. After a sequence that saw winner's odds of 3-2, 5-2, 5-1, 4-1, 9-5 and 8-5, those who hit walked away with $6,568. A LITTLE MORE: Five drivers accounted for 10 of the 13 winners on the program as Simon Allard, Yannick Gingras, Corey Callahan, Andy McCarthy and Todd McCarthy all scored twice. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Displaying a remarkable closing kick, Major Occasion A was airborne through a final quarter of :26 in her seasonal harness racing debut to become the second straight Friday night feature winner to do it in last to first fashion, taking the $22,500 Winners Over $50,000 Lifetime for pacing fillies and mares in 1:52.4 at The Meadowlands. "She's a good mare," said winning driver Dexter Dunn. "Her [1:54.4] qualifier last week was a good one." And it proved to be more than enough to get her ready for the assignment at hand. It appeared that the race belonged to Betalady, who was on the lead through soft fractions of :28.1, :57.2 and 1:25.4. Major Occasion A opted to race from last in the six-horse field for most of the mile, picking up live cover at the five-eighths from 9-5 favorite Sweet Lucy Lou, who was last week's come-from-behind winner. Off the far turn, the 'Major' tipped off her cover before rocketing home to record a 1-length win over Betalady. Sweet Lucy Lou was third. MAJOR OCCASION A REPLAY   "When you're sitting back last and you're chasing good mares, it's going to be hard to catch them," said Dunn. "But she really knocked it down through the stretch. She was good off the helmet and should have a good season." Trained by Nifty Norman for owners Enzed Racing Stable, Major Occasion A, a 7-year-old daughter of Art Major-Fake Occasion, returned $6.40 to win as the 2-1 second choice in the wagering. She now has 21 wins from just 68 career outings, good for earnings of $415,273. HE'S A GRAND OLD MAN: Even though he was making the 293rd start of his career, 14-year-old Statesman N looked like a kid out there in the $12,500 Play Meadowlands Final for $7,500 claimers, scoring by a determined head in 1:53.3. Owned and trained by Yogi Sheridan, Statesman N completed a two-race sweep of the series by brushing to the lead before the half and holding off the pocket-sitting Northern Rock after the pair duked it out toe-to-toe through the stretch. Statesman N, a gelded son of Christian Cullen-Club Sport who was driven by Dunn, now has 58 career wins and lifetime earnings of $949,483. As the heavy 2-5 public choice, he returned $2.80 to win. A LITTLE MORE: Mark MacDonald continued his winning ways by pacing the driving colony with three winners on the card, giving him eight victories over the last five programs. ... There were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover of $7,384. Those with five correct collected $96.14. ... All-source handle totaled $2,701,155. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. by Dae Little, for The Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - A loaded older trotting division got a little bit deeper Saturday night at The Meadowlands, as Get Legs, from harness racing driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller - the duo known as "Team Orange Crush" - put a beating on six overmatched foes in the $18,500 high-end conditioned trotting feature. "We are really excited about him," said Andy. "Right now, and for the future as well." They should be. Because if all goes as hoped, 'Legs' could end up facing such standouts as Manchego, Atlanta and Amigo Volo during what is his sophomore campaign after having not raced as a 2-year-old. The still relatively inexperienced 4-year-old son of Muscle Hill-Legzy, known heading into the night for his late rallies, was put on the point this time around, and continued his winning ways switching from being a pursuer to the persued. Get Legs, whose every lifetime start has come at The Big M, was away quickly from post four in the seven-horse (which had two scratches) field along with 5-2 second choice Mission Accepted and 3-1 chance Pikachu Hanover, and when they settled in at the quarter, the even-money favorite Get Legs hit the beam in :27.4 with Pikachu Hanover and Mission Accepted willing to sit behind along the rail. "I just thought it was a good spot to be a little more aggressive with him," said Andy. "He's been taken back enough." Miller was able to rate the second fraction in a leisurely :29 on a night where the front end is where you wanted to be, before Pikachu Hanover popped out the two-hole at three-quarters to take his shot, and just as it seemed he might threaten as they straightened away, Get Legs got serious. "When he felt them move up on him," said Andy. "He just took off all the way to the wire." The margin may have been just a half-length, but Get Legs reported home a safe winner in 1:53, just two-fifths of a second slower than two weeks ago, when he established his lifetime best. Mission Accepted outlasted Pikachu Hanover in the race for place.   Get Legs, who returned $4.20 to his backers, now has eight wins from just nine lifetime starts and earnings of $63,610 for owners Andy Miller Stable and Michael Anderson. A 'NIFTY' SCORE: Colossal Stride A, driven by Dexter Dunn and trained by Nifty Norman, wore down speedy 70-1 shot Yacht Seelster in deep stretch to take the high-end conditioned pacing feature by a neck in 1:50.3, giving him three wins in four North American starts since shipping in from Australia less than two months ago. "He's a pretty powerful horse," said Dunn, whose horse sprinted home in :26. "The fractions weren't strong but he paced hard through the stretch." As the 3-5 public choice, Colossal Stride A, who won despite going parked for the final half-mile, paid $3.20 to win. HANDLE ROLLS A "YO-LEVEN": The Meadowlands' streak of seeing the $3-million handle barrier busted on Saturday nights stayed intact, as all-source wagering totaled $3,155,578. There have been 11 Saturday programs at The Big M thus far in 2021, and all 11 have seen a handle of over $3 million. A PAIR OF FOURS: Yannick Gingras and Andy McCarthy had the hot hands on the 13-race card, as both drove four winners on the program. A LITTLE MORE: One shrewd player wagering into the Oregon Express hub raked the pot in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 and collected $12,059. The sequence saw four winning favorites, including a pair of 3-5 shots in the final two legs. ... There will be a bit more time for players to handicap the first race 20-cent Pick-5 starting Friday, as racing resumes with a new post time of 6:20 p.m. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It's hard to imagine anyone feeling confident about Sweet Lucy Lou's chances down the backstretch in the Friday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands, a high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares. After all, the 5-year-old by Sweet Lou-Ultimate Bet, was sent to the gate as a 17-1 outsider and was sitting 10th and last as the field went past the half-mile marker with apparently no chance. But then things picked up for her connections, not to mention her backers. Driver Todd McCarthy put Sweet Lucy Lou into a fourth-over flow, a train that was led by a resilient Betalady, who went parked the mile while in search of a third straight win at The Big M. At three-quarters - which was timed in 1:22.2 - Dover Downs shipper Going Gone Hanover was calling the shots with 5-2 favorite Wingding Hanover in the pocket and Betalady still grinding away on the rim in third. "I thought she had a shot," said winning trainer Bob Cleary of Sweet Lucy Lou. "I thought a lot of them wouldn't like the wind in their faces in the stretch." Cleary was spot on, as his prized pupil roared home after tipping off cover for the stretch drive to score by 1¼ lengths in 1:51.3 and return a handsome $36.60 to win. Golden Quest N rallied after going second-over to grab the place spot. A game Betalady hung in there for third.   "She's a big closer," said Cleary, as Sweet Lucy Lou raised her lifetime stats to 10 wins from 50 starts. "It was a big class drop for her. Last year, she was fourth in the Breeders Crown [won by Kissin In The Sand]. Hopefully, she can be a stakes filly this year. She's a big-track horse and is staked to all of the big races at The Meadowlands and Mohawk." "I looked at her lines and that cemented in my mind that she's crazy good off cover," said McCarthy. "I was hoping she'd be good enough and she was." Owned by Royal Wire Products, Sweet Lucy Lou recorded her first win since October 9 of last year and lifted her lifetime bank account to $245,602. A LITTLE MORE: Leading driver Dexter Dunn and Yannick Gingras both won three races on the card, while Andy Miller, McCarthy and Mark MacDonald all won two apiece. ... Jeff Cullipher had a training double. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,706,688. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Management at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment announced Wednesday morning that post time will move to 6:20 p.m., effective Friday, March 19. "This is in response to our fans who want to bet our entire card but appreciate getting home a little bit earlier," said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir of the track shifting post time 20 minutes later than what has been the norm since Dec. 26. "We have seen solid wagering on our early races that have been taking place in the before-7 p.m. window. Those races have, in effect, replaced the races in the after-11 p.m. window, where wagering had not been as strong when we had our post time at 7:15 p.m." Racing will be conducted on the usual Friday and Saturday basis all the way through Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 7. Post time for this weekend's races (March 12-13) will be 6 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Ana Afreet N and JL Cruze made quick work of their foes Saturday night at The Meadowlands, as each won their respective harness racing co-featured $25,000 Winners Over/Junior Opens with ease on a chilly night at the mile oval. Ana Afreet N, making just his second start back after a two-month layoff, showed that he is all the way back in the groove, as the Jeff Cullipher trainee crushed nine overmatched foes in the marquee event for pacers. Departing from post nine provided little in the way of trouble for the 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight-Anna Livia, as driver Andy McCarthy left the gate sharply, moving swiftly around the first turn while four-wide before clearing to the top at the quarter in :27.1. It was over right then and there. After being permitted to rate a second fraction in :28.2 with nobody close on the rim, Ana Afreet N then shrugged off token first-over pressure around the far turn from the horse who won this race last week, Shnitzledosomethin, before sprinting home in :26.4 to win by 1¾ lengths over a rail-sitting Gods Spirit N in 1:50.2. Shnitzledosomethin held third.   "He was terrific tonight," said McCarthy. "He really doesn't love the front end but he's going to have to get used to it racing over a half-mile track [in the March 15 Borgata Series] at Yonkers. He's probably better with a target, but he paced home strong. I think if a horse had been nearby, he would have shown even more." Ana Afreet N paid $5.80 to win as the 9-5 favorite and upped his lifetime numbers to 23 victories from just 46 starts. Owned by Pollack Racing and Jeff Cullipher, his lifetime earnings now stand at $180,072. JL Cruze showed no rust after a two-week break, blasting down the pike in the featured trot in 1:53.2 as the 1-2 public choice. "He takes me around the track," said winning driver Dexter Dunn. "He makes my job easy." The 10-year-old son of Crazed-Topcat Hall backed up his pilot's words by having an easy time of it on the front end. "That's what makes him so good," said Dunn, referring to his horse's last start, which he won from off the pace. "He's so versatile, so good out of the gate." JL Cruze, who was assigned post seven in the seven-horse field, exploded away from the gate, made the top out of the first turn, and cut out fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:25.3, before sprinting home in :27.4 to win by 1½ lengths over a fast-closing Pikachu Hanover. Winnerup was third.   Trained by Eric Ell and owned by W. Kenneth Wood, W.J. Dittmar Jr. and S.J. Iaquinta, JL Cruze lifted his lifetime statistics to 44 wins from 128 starts, good for an overflowing bank account of $1,584,892. He returned $3.00 to win and has now won four of his last five Big M starts. A LITTLE MORE: McCarthy won three races on the card to finish with five victories over the weekend. ... The 20-cent Pick-6 carryover of $6,225 blossomed into a total pool of $35,136, and those who had winning tickets cashed in for $3,422. ... All-source wagering totaled $3,114,494. There have been 10 Saturday programs conducted at The Big M thus far in 2021, and each has seen the $3-million-handle barrier busted. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Machnhope had not been seen at The Meadowlands for almost four months heading into Friday night's harness racing featured high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares, but she displayed no ill effects of having not raced at the mile oval since Nov. 13 when she was second to Caviart Ally, dominating her foes on a clear but chilly evening in 1:52. Sent to the gate as the 3-5 public choice, driver Andy McCarthy had Machnhope on the go early from post three in the seven-horse field. She followed 5-2 second choice Wingding Hanover around the first turn and finally cleared to the lead just before the three-eighths and clicked off a soft :57 half, leaving plenty of gas in the tank. Twenty-two to one long shot Sheikh Yabooty N rushed up to go after the leader at three-quarters as the cadence quickened during a third fraction that was timed in :27.3 as Wingding Hanover stayed patient in the pocket. Then, Machnhope turned it on. After opening a 2-length edge at the head of the stretch, Machnhope sprinted the final quarter in :27.2, and despite the late rally of second-place finisher Golden Quest N, she hit the wire a never-in-doubt three-quarter-length winner. Stellenbosch was third as Wingding Hanover weakened to fourth. "She got around the mile track good," said McCarthy of his horse, who had been racing steadily of late in the open ranks at Dover Downs. "I was actually thinking I'd like to trip her out. She finished the mile up strong. She's a little bit of a funny mare. Some nights she's better gaited than others. She was giving me a little bit of a hard time tonight. She's tricky but she definitely has plenty of go." Machnhope, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Hope For Life who is trained by Noel Daley, returned $3.40 to her backers. After winning for the first time in six tries this year, she now has 27 victories from 99 lifetime starts and earnings of $357,044 for owners Deo Volente Farms, Thomas Pontone, L.A. Express Stable and Noel Daley. A LITTLE MORE: Scott Zeron led the driver colony with three winners on the card. Mark MacDonald, Dexter Dunn and McCarthy all had two wins apiece. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,765,650. ... No one had a winning ticket in the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover of $6,225. Those with five correct collected $296.48. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - With precisely zero races being won on the front end during the first nine dashes on the harness racing card, trainer Bruce Saunders must have liked his chances with his Betalady in the 10th race, the featured $22,500 winners-over $11,500 for fillies and mares on the pace Friday night at The Meadowlands. After all, in her Big M return a week ago, the 4-year daughter of Bettor's Delight-Lady Jake swung four-wide into the stretch to gun down favorite Tango Dancer N at the wire. It worked so well, in fact, she tried the same tactic this time around. Betalady got away from the gate fifth from post position six in the seven-horse field as Bye Bye Felicia sprinted the opening panel in :27.1. Yannick Gingras made an aggressive move soon thereafter with Wingding Hanover at the three-eighths to grab the lead and was sailing along on the point at the half in :55.4. Tango Dancer N, the 3-1 second choice, was now in play first-over with Betalady following the tow of the second-over She's Nun Bettor N on the rim. When the field hit the top of the stretch, Wingding Hanover was still moving well on the lead as Corey Callahan swung Betalady off her third-over journey four-wide for the stretch drive. At the eighth pole, Wingding Hanover was clear by about 2 lengths, but Betalady just kept on coming, and in a thrilling finish, got up by a nose in 1:51.2 after pacing her final quarter in :26.1. She's Nun Bettor N was third. "Last week, she was explosive as well," said Saunders. "I've only had her short term, but she's been sensational. We debated putting her in the Blue Chip Matchmaker [at Yonkers] but she made breaks in her last two starts there. She's a very good filly." Betalady, owed by M&L of Delaware, returned $4.80 to win as the 7-5 favorite. She's won eight of 33 career starts - including three of her last four at The Big M - and now has earnings of $191,786. "I would prefer to race against her own age group," said Saunders. "But we have seen mares step up and do well against older foes. If we find our spots, in today's world, with The Meadowlands, Pocono and [Harrah's Philadelphia], hopefully, she can have a six-figure season and then we'll have a nice 5-year-old next year. I wouldn't trade her for any 4-year-old racing right now." Betalady A LITTLE MORE: Simon Allard pulled off a natural hat trick by taking the seventh, eighth and ninth races to lead the driver colony with three winners on the program while the red-hot Jeff Cullipher had a training triple. ... Driver Tony Beltrami piloted the winners of both divisions of Leg Three of the GSY Series for amateur drivers for trainer Williams Hernandez. ... Betting topped the $3-million mark for an eighth straight card, as a total of $3,073,616 was put in play. The sixth race took the most action, with $395,624 pushed through the windows, highlighted by big pools in the Exacta ($110,920) and 50-cent Pick-4 ($92,918). ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - According to the past performances, Lyons Steel would need a lot of things to go his way bumping up in class to emerge victorious in Saturday night's harness racing co-featured $22,500 winners-over $11,500 conditioned pace at The Meadowlands. And as it turned out, they did. Following a perfect second-over trip, the razor sharp 6-year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven-Lyons Luck blasted home off cover to pull off a 6-1 surprise, and in the process, upped his winning streak to three. After floating away from the gate from post five in the seven-horse field, driver Corey Callahan had Lyons Steel in sixth at the quarter. Early leader, and 5-2 second choice, Italian Delight N, yielded to My Pal Joe at the half (:55.3) as the flow started to develop on the rim. Rockin The Aces went first-over to press My Pal Joe as Lyons Steel drafted in behind with 4-5 favorite Springsteen third-up while Italian Delight N stayed patient in the pocket. In the stretch, the scramble was on as Lyons Steel tipped three wide and flew home to record a 1½-length win over a fast-closing No Easy Day in 1:51. Rockin The Aces held third. Italian Delight N was fourth with Springsteen a no-excuse sixth after not firing through the lane. "He's a nice horse," said Callahan. "Maybe he's not the same horse as Springsteen, but Springsteen is in and out. I was worried about him being on my back, but when I moved my horse off his cover, he paced hard to the wire. Tonight, he got the trip and it worked out well." Lyons Steel returned $15.40 to his backers in winning for the 26th time from 116 lifetime starts. Trained by Dennis Watson and owned by BD Racing, he now has a lifetime bank account worth $371,224. Lyons Steel In the $22,500 co-featured winners-over $11,500 trot, Scirocco Rob scored as the 2-1 favorite for driver Daniel Dube and trainer Mark Silva in 1:53.2. The 6-year-old gelded son of Explosive Matter-Fun At Parties made the top while parked at the quarter, putting 4-1 third choice Kenziesky Hanover in the pocket. They raced that way into the stretch, when Kenziesky Hanover emerged from the two-hole to take a short lead, but Scirocco Rob found more and out-gamed his foe to the wire to record a neck win, denying Callahan a sweep of the top two events on the card. Rich And Miserable was third. "The other horse went by us," said Dube. "But my horse fought back. He's got a big heart." Scirocco Rob returned $6.00 in recording his 25th lifetime victory from 77 starts. His earnings now stand at $515,004 for owners Lewis Whitaker Jr. and Kathleen Whitaker. Scirocco Rob BETTING BIG AGAIN: All-source wagering totaled $3,871,820 on the 15-race card, with the most action on a single race being the first, when $389,159 was pushed through the windows. Betting came up just short of topping the $7-million mark for a fourth consecutive weekend, with a total of $6,952,141 put in play. The sixth race 50-cent Pick-4 was the biggest single pool of the night with $112,023 in bets taken. A LITTLE MORE: Western Fame rocked the clock in the sixth race high-end conditioned pace, hitting the wire in 1:48.4 after leading at every call for Dube and trainer Shane Tritton. The only horse to go faster this year is Let It Ride N, who went 1:48.1 on Jan. 2 at The Big M. ... Dexter Dunn had a driving triple for a second consecutive night to up his track-leading driver dash-win total to 45. ... Tritton trained three to victory lane. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It was one for the harness racing chalk players and one for those who like bombs in the two $17,500 Play Meadowlands Series Finals at The Meadowlands Friday night. In the division for pacing fillies and mares, Its Mesmerise N completed a two-race sweep of the event for trainer Darran Cassar and driver Scott Zeron. Sent to the gate as the 1-5 public choice for a second straight start despite facing a tougher field this time around, Zeron had the 7-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Cullens Charm in the three-hole early before brushing to the top at the half, which was clocked in a quick :54.2. Windsong Parisian, the 10-1 fourth choice in the 10-horse field, applied pressure to the leader while first-over past the half and three-quarters (1:22.1) and appeared to be done off the turn as they straightened away in the stretch, but she kept on digging all the way to the wire through a slow final quarter of :30.2 to come up a neck short of pulling off an upset. Misty Memory N was third.   "I wish I could have bided my time a little more," said Zeron of moving Its Mesmerise N to the lead. "She raced unbelievably given the pressure and the fractions. When I had to move as early as I did at the half, it was a bit of a concern and the immediate pressure didn't help. [Windsong Parisian] raced well. Both fillies cruised around the last turn and both hung in there down the lane. I think my horse is classier than these horses. I had been racing her from off the pace because she likes a target but had been a victim of being too far back. She showed tonight she can do it any which way." Its Mesmerise N paid $2.60 to win after completing the mile in 1:52.3 for her 18th lifetime win from 69 starts. She now has earnings of $117,364. Longshot lovers got their way in the Play Meadowlands for trotters as driver Steve Smith saved ground with Take A Wish from start to finish before bursting through between rivals late to score at 30-1 in 1:55.2. After racing Take A Wish at the rail in eighth in the 10-horse field in the early going, as the flow developed on the rim, Smith advanced the Dawn Anderson trainee to the four-hole along the inside at the half. Remaining glued to the cones around the far turn, Smith waited until there was room and came with a rush in deep stretch to score the upset by a head and return $62.40. Life Well Lived closed well on the far outside to get second while third-place finisher Gruden, the 2-1 favorite, failed in a second straight attempt to go wire-to-wire.   Take A Wish, a 6-year-old mare by Wishing Stone-Take A Taste, won for the 12th time from 85 lifetime outings and upped her earnings to $210,836. A LITTLE MORE: Handle topped the $3-million mark again as a total of $3,080,321 was put in play on a 13-race card conducted over a sloppy track that saw snowy conditions for the first third of the program. Wagering has now surpassed $3 million on three straight Fridays, and 10 times overall for the 14 cards conducted thus far in 2021. ... Driver of the Week Dexter Dunn kept on rolling, racking up three winners to up his Big M leading-driver victory tally to 42. He's scored 15 times over the last four programs. ... No one hit the 20-cent Pick-6, setting up Saturday's wager with a carryover of $7,222. .... First-race post time on Saturday is 6 p.m. The Pick-6 begins in race eight. Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com. For full race results, click here. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Wagering on harness racing at The Meadowlands continued to bustle Saturday night, as betting blasted past the $4-million barrier for a third time in 2021, the same number of times that was accomplished during all of 2020. Action was huge from the get-go on the 15-race card as a total of $367,134 was pushed through the windows on the opener, $86,011 of which was bet on the 20-cent Pick-5. Action was at least $330,000 on races six, seven and nine before the 10th race took in the most play of the night, with $370,062. The sixth race 50-cent Pick-4 saw $105,648 pushed through the windows and resulted in the wager’s biggest payout of the meeting. Twenty-to-one long shots won the opening and payoff legs of the bet, resulting in a payoff of $17,959. In sharp contrast, the 10th race Pick-4, which saw a total pool of $94,171, saw two even-money shots, a 5-2 and a 3-1 combine for a payout of $78.55. The all-source total wagered on the card was $4,082,528, an average per race of $272,168. Betting has exceeded $7 million for the last three weekends at The Big M. That plateau was reached three times during all of 2020. THAT’S A HALF-DOZEN COUSIN: Driver Dexter Dunn continued his brilliance in the bike at the current Big M meeting by winning six times on the program. The 31-year-old native of New Zealand, the two-time defending United States Harness Writers Association Driver of the Year, won a total of eight races over the weekend, upping his Big M driver-colony leading win total to 39. ‘JOE’ BEATEN, ‘JL’ CRUISES: A pair of fan favorites sat atop the marquee in the co-featured $22,500 winners-over $11,500 events, one on the pace and the other on the trot. Tulhurstsantanna A worked out an ideal trip in pulling off a 21-1 upset in the pace. The driver of the 8-year-old gelded son of Santanna Blue Chip-Ballroom Belle had designs on leaving the gate, but Andy McCarthy thought better of it. “I put his nose on the gate and thought about stepping out,” said McCarthy. “But I aborted that mission when I saw everybody else had the same idea and managed to work out a sweet second-over trip.” Western Joe, the 4-5 favorite who was seeking his second straight score in the weekly feature, brushed to the lead while parked past the half in :54.2, but was pressured by long shot Points North shortly thereafter, which set it up for a closer. McCarthy tipped Tulhurstsantanna A off the cover provided by Points North as they straightened up in the stretch but still had one major player to worry about. “I knew [3-1 second choice] Springsteen was on my back,” said McCarthy. “He’s very fast, that horse, but my horse, he keeps horses at bay. He knows what to do.” In winning a third straight at The Big M, Tulhurstsantanna A returned $44.20 to his backers after completing the mile in a lifetime-best equaling 1:49.4 on a night with a feel-like temperature of 19 degrees. Springsteen finished a half-length back in second, with Italian Delight N third and Western Joe fourth in the eight-horse field. Trained by Andrew Harris and owned by Douglas Overhiser, Tulhurstsantanna A raised his lifetime stats to 24 wins from 144 starts, good for earnings of $191,454. In the marquee trot, JL Cruze chalked up his third win in his last four Meadowlands outings, scoring by a half-length over Scirocco Rob in 1:52.4. Rich And Miserable was third. “He’s a classy old horse,” said winning driver Dunn of the 10-year-old gelding by Crazed-Topcat Hall. “And it’s a pleasure to sit behind him every week.” JL Cruze left alertly from post eight in the eight-horse field and opted to race in the five-hole early on. “I got him out of there and we took a seat,” said Dunn. “It’s not usually the way he races, but I was pretty confident we would run them down.” The even-money favorite followed the live tow of 7-1 third choice Scirocco Rob down the backstretch, and once leader Winnerup was done, it was down to those two. Under confident handling from Dunn, JL Cruze reported home an easy winner after tipping off cover, scoring for the 43rd time from 127 career starts for trainer Eric Ell and owners W. Kenneth Wood, J. Dittmar Jr. and S.J. Iaquinta. His lifetime bank account now stands at a gaudy $1,572,392. A LITTLE MORE: Scott Zeron and Corey Callahan both recorded driving doubles while the red-hot Jeff Cullipher trained a pair of winners. … Shrewd 20-cent Pick-6 players made a big score, as with only one long shot (22-1) winning during the sequence, those with winning tickets walked away with $12,891. Of the other five winning horses, two were favored, while the other three went off at 5-1, 5-2 and 3-1. … Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – In what was a frantic finish to a fabulous Friday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands, Get Legs went another powerhouse mile in scoring from off the pace in the $19,000 marquee dash for non-winners of nine races lifetime on the trot, upping his lifetime stats to six wins in seven starts, all taking place at The Big M. “You can’t map out the trip,” said winning trainer Julie Miller. “But you hope it works out in the end. We were very fortunate.” Maybe so, but Get Legs was also very good. Get Legs was away quickly from post seven, as was 7-5 favorite Some Chapter from post eight in the eight-horse field. The problem was, virtually all the horses to their inside also left the gate, leaving Get Legs and Some Chapter, who was seeking his fifth win in six starts, extremely wide around the first turn. With the two favorites resigned to having to come from the back of the pack, HL Revadon had the lead at the quarter while parked out by Cool Clifford, but soon thereafter, Gotwuteverittakes made a bold move to the top only to be pressed by 29-10 third choice Swan In Motion. The quick action down the backstretch assured a closer would get the money, and at three-quarters, Magical Winner K tipped off his cover and was first-up leading a three-wide flow as 27-10 second choice Get Legs followed that live tow with Some Chapter tracking from third-over as three-quarters was timed in 1:25.3. Andy Miller steered Get Legs to the outside for the stretch drive, and after trotting a final quarter in :27.2, grabbed the victory by a half-length over Magical Winner K, who raced well beyond his 44-1 odds. Some Chapter was a valiant third. “I just have so much confidence in my horse and driver,” said Julie, the better half of team ‘Orange Crush’. “My horse was supposed to race last week at Pocono but the card got canceled, so I was afraid we might be a little short. He rose to the occasion.” Get Legs, a 4-year-old son of Muscle Hill-Legzy, returned $7.40 to his backers after completing the mile in 1:53.4. He now has earnings of $46,610, and if all goes as hoped, there will be a lot more to come. “We’ve staked him to the 4-year-old races this year,” said Julie. “I would love to take on the big dogs, but he’s kind of behind the eight ball with his limited experience. I think my slow play game will benefit him. When we have to race the better horses, we hope to be prepared.” The game plan is to be ready for the Graduate Series in May. “I’m not going to feed him to the wolves unless he’s ready. If we think he is, we’ll be there,” said Julie. View the Meadowlands results click here A LITTLE MORE: Julie and Andy have another potential good one on their hands. Earlier on the card, their Hipster K, another 4-year-old trotter, made it three wins in as many lifetime starts in a non-winners of two. The son of Sebastian K S-Riley’s Dream became the first 1-9 winner of the meeting, returning $2.20 for a $2 wager after finishing his mile in 1:55.4. … Despite four favorites winning during the sequence, the 20-cent Pick-6 returned $825.40 thanks to Waterway, who scored from off the pace with Corey Callahan driving in the 12th race at odds of 23-1. … Andy McCarthy led the driver’s colony with three victories on the card. … All-source wagering totaled $3,131,740, the second consecutive Friday where wagering exceeded the $3-million mark. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

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