Three harness racing series finals made up the Winter Series Spectacular at The Meadowlands on Saturday night. The Super Bowl, Wordly Beauty and last but not least, the Escort Final with a purse of $56,000 appeared the most competitive of the three series finals on paper. Coming into The Escort Final, Tim Tetrick had what appeared to be a difficult decision to make, between Khan Blue Chip, a Linda Toscano trainee and Company Man. Tetrick decided to sit behind Company Man and it was proven that he chose wisely. Sent off as the 2-1 second choice, Tetrick allowed Company Man to sit third, just off the speed of Khan Blue Chip through a rather soft opening quarter of 28.1. Sensing the light tempo, Tetrick pulled his gelding as they straightened up in the backstretch and made a strong bid for the lead. Company Man hit the half-mile in 56 and three-quarters in 1:23.3, before getting separation on the field and opening up a three length lead turning for home. His main rival, Major Uptrend, was stacked up third over finding himself with five lengths to make up at the top of the stretch. Driven by Corey Callahan, Major Uptrend lengthened his stride late, along with a game JK Patriot and that pair began to close in on Company Man. But Tetrick saved just enough for the final strides and Company Man held on for the score in 1:51.4. Major Uptrend was second and JK Patriot third. Tetrick noted that his horse has the potential to move up the class ladder in the coming months. "He's tough enough," said Tetrick, "he can carry his speed for a long time and he's tough enough and that makes for a good racehorse." Up next for Company Man will be the Sonsam series which gets underway on Saturday February 7th. The top-five finishers from The Escort are all eligible to the Sonsam. Company Man is trained by Virgil Morgan Jr.for Daniel Mitchell. Company Man Tetrick was far from done as he had a major contender, Witch Dali, in the the second winter-series Final contested which was the $47,600 Wordly Beauty for three and four year old filly and mare pacers. Donttellruss was sent off as the 4/5 favorite off her pocket-rocket win over Witch Dali in round two of the series. Tonight, Corey Callahan was intent on the lead, parking out all challengers, especially the first over Just Fine. Donttellruss established a hot-pace of 27, 54 and 1:22.3 before turning for home with the lead, with Empress Deo looming off cover and Witch Dali situated third over as the field entered the stretch. Callahan called on Donttellruss for everything she had, but Tim Tetrick showed his mare, Witch Dali some racetrack and she responded, carving into the margin with each and ever stride. Nearing the wire, Witch Dali wore down a gritty Donttellruss to win the Worldly Beauty in 1:52.2. The win marked the sixth in seven starts since returning from the layoff for Witch Dali and it also made for the second winter series win for the daughter of Dali. Trainer Tony Alagna said he was "licking his chops watching his mare tracking the leaders from third over with the hot fractions up front." Alagna also made reference to a foot issue that kept his mare on the sidelines for one year saying, "we waited on her, but she has come back great and she was super tonight." Witch Dali was driven by Tim Tetrick for Tony Alagna, Alagna Racing and Bradley Grant. Donttellruss saved the runner-up spot with Empress Deo third. The top-three finishers are all bound for the Burning Point series which gets underway on Friday, February 6th. The Super Bowl looked like a four-horse race on paper and on the heels of a defeat in round two of the Super Bowl series as a 3/5 favorite, JL Cruze turned the tables once again on Opulent Yankee when the big money was down, winning the $50,000 Super Bowl Final with John Campbell. Sent off as the 2-1 third choice, JL Cruze left for position and was seemingly moving up to challenge the early lead, but was promptly looped by a three-wide Two Hip Dip going past the opening quarter of 28.4. JL Cruze was hung out on the rim, grinding it first over through a strong 27.2 second quarter. Campbell asked his gelding for speed at this point and JL Cruze responded and took over the lead from Two Hip Dip moving into the far turn. Opulent Yankee was tracking the leaders from third and he elected to remain on the pylons as his entry-mates Blocking The Way and Propulsion moved to the outside. However, Two Hip Dip got aggressive and pulled from the pocket just before the three-quarter pole to challenge JL Cruze, which enabled Opulent Yankee to advance along the pylons as Two Hip Dip flattened out in the stretch. Turning for home off three-quarters in 1:25, JL Cruze accelerated away from the field, with the three-horse entry chasing him home as Two Hip Dip faded, but no one was catching JL Cruze, who streaked under the wire a powerful Super Bowl Champion in 1:54.4. Opulent Yankee was second with Blocking The Way third. The top-five finishers in the Super Bowl Final are all eligible to the upcoming Charles Singer Memorial trotting series which begins on Thursday, February 5th. JL Cruze was driven to victory by John Campbell for trainer Eric Ell who mentioned in a post-race interview that his gelding "was battling a bit of an illness the week before and was not 100-percent, but he had a great week this week and showed up with his best effort tonight." JL Cruze is owned by W Kenneth Wood, W J Dittmar Jr. and S J Iaquinta. The Super Bowl Final was part of a pick 5 sequence that sported a $22,616 carryover, resulting in a total pool Saturday night of $146,934. Darin Zoccali
Purchased for $250,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale, the 4-year-old trotter was unraced at age 2 because of immaturity, but has won five of his last eight starts dating back to August. He is 2-for-2 this season, with both victories coming in the preliminary rounds of the Super Bowl Series for 3- and 4-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands. Propulsion will start Saturday's $50,000 Super Bowl final from post one with driver Tim Tetrick. He is part of an entry with Blocking The Way and Opulent Yankee - a group that has been tabbed the 4-5 morning line favorite. "He's a horse we always had high hopes for, he just was really immature and needed some time," said Alagna, who trains Propulsion for owners Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco, Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, and the partnership of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband. "Spending (a lot) of money doesn't guarantee they'll be good right away -- or ever -- but he's a very high-speed horse. He had some minor growing pains and it just took him a little while to put it all together. He reminds me a lot of (late stakes-winner) Modern Family as a young horse. He's got a lot of potential." Propulsion flashed that potential in October when he beat stakes-winner Odds On Amethyst by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:52.3 in a late closer at The Red Mile. A son of stallion Muscle Hill out of the 2007 Hambletonian Oaks-winning Danae, Propulsion (originally named Deyrolle) is a half-brother to stakes-winner D'Orsay and his famly also includes 1974 Horse of the Year, and successful broodmare, Delmonica Hanover. "After he won at Lexington, we knew this series was coming up, so we thought it would be a good place to get him back started on his 4-year-old career," Alagna said. "We shut him down so he would fit the series (conditions) and I think a lot of people keep these series in mind in the fall when they're deciding whether to go on or stop." Propulsion, who has won five of 10 career starts and earned $43,790, also is eligible to the Charles Singer Memorial Series and Shiaway St Pat Series at the Meadowlands. If all goes well, the horse could then head to the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters, which features three preliminary rounds followed by a $250,000 final. "He has the potential to be a Grand Circuit horse, he really does," Alagna said. "That's why these series are great for a horse like him because he can go through these three series at the Meadowlands and then have a little bit of a break and maybe go into that new Graduate Series. "It gives him a lot of nice starts against his own kind before he'd ever have to go against the better horses. But he'll have an opportunity and hopefully everything will go that way." Propulsion faces a tough group in the Super Bowl final. Opulent Yankee, who starts from post 10, also won both his preliminary races in the series. Other division winners JL Cruze, Two Hip Dip and Blocking The Way drew posts four through six, respectively. "I think it's a very tough series," Alagna said. "We've been tinkering with him a little, making some adjustments with him every start, and hopefully he'll be at his best for the final." Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also features the $56,000 Escort Series final for 3- and 4-year-old male pacers and the $47,600 Worldly Beauty Series final for 3- and 4-year-old female pacers. The Worldly Beauty, on paper, shapes up as a showdown between Alagna's Witch Dali and Ron Burke's Donttellruss. Last week, Witch Dali had a five-race win streak snapped by Donttellruss, who posted a one-length victory in 1:51.3. Witch Dali, a daughter of Dali out of Whitesand Gem, missed nearly all of last season because of a foot issue. She returned in December and swept the Niagara Series at Woodbine, capturing the final in a series-record 1:51.2. "She had a foot issue that wouldn't resolve itself, so we just waited on her," said Alagna, who owns the 4-year-old mare with Brad Grant. "We just took our time and did the right thing by her, and she's paying us back so far. "She's been fantastic. She cut the mile (last week) and Donttellruss sat on her back and beat her, but it was more so the fact our mare was hot the other night. It's the first time she's really been overly aggressive and we made some changes on her this week for the final and I think she'll bounce right back. She came out of the race good and we're in good shape." Donttellruss will start the Worldly Beauty final from post six with driver Corey Callahan and is the 6-5 morning line favorite. Witch Dali will leave from post 10 with Tetrick and is the 9-5 second choice. By Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications/USTA
East Rutherford, NJ - The first 'Winter Series Final Spectacular' of the 2015 season takes place on Saturday, January 24 at The Meadowlands. The final for the Super Bowl, Worldly Beauty and Escort series' highlight the thirteen race card which also features a leg of World Harness Handicapping Championship and possibly a few big carry-over pools. The series finals begin with the $50,000 Super Bowl in race three. A powerful three-pronged entry that contains two potential sweepers in Propulsion and Opulent Yankee will grab much of the play here. Propulsion was a comfortable winner in both legs and has won half of his ten career starts for trainer Tony Alagna and owners Brittany Farms, Katz, Goldband, Libfeld, Sbrocco and Little E, LLC. He'll launch from post one for regular driver Tim Tetrick. Opulent Yankee owns the fastest Super Bowl leg win with his 1:53.2 score last week, but has drawn the far outside in here. Julie Miller trains him for ownership group Little E, LLC, Geiger, Settlemoir & Stolz. Driver Andy Miller must fashion a winning trip from the undesirable starting point. Julie Miller also trains the third member of the entry, Blocking The Way, a leg one winner racing for new owners Surick, Eisman and Hochsprung who plucked him out of Monday's Tattersalls mixed sale for $30,000. JL Cruze and Two Hip Dip shall attempt to deflate the favored entity. The sixth race is the $47,600 Worldly Beauty final, which offers a rematch between Witch Dali and Donttellruss. Witch Dali swept through the Niagara series at Woodbine through December and looked invincible for the Worldly Beauty with a stunning 1:51.1 win in leg one, but Donttellruss had the answer last week from the pocket. Tony Alagna trains Witch Dali for his own interest as Alagna Racing, LLC in partnership with Bradley Grant and will again call on Tetrick to find the answer from post nine. Donttellruss gets a new pilot for the final with Corey Callahan replacing the Prix d'Amerique-bound Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke. She begins from post six for Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Karr & Baldachino. The $56,000 final Escort is the seventh race and trainer Ron Burke has a very strong hand in this one. Major Uptrend cruised in the first leg but broke as the heavy favorite in the leg two. He has displayed a quick turn of foot on a number of occasions this winter. Corey Callahan returns to the sulky for owner Howard Taylor and begins from post five. Burke also sends out the improving What I Believe from just inside his main rival in this one. This four-year-old has really found his best form on the mile track, winning three of four here including leg one by a scant nose and dead-heating for the "W" in leg two. He also gets a new driver in Brett Miller in the final for owners Burke Racing Stable & Weaver Bruscemi. The World Harness Handicapping Championship opens the contest season for 2015 and you may enter until 7:00pm on Saturday. The Super Hi-5 Jackpot carry-overs are at $34,076 for race five and $52,684 in the last race going into this week's racing which begins tonight at 7:15. Thursday programs are free at the track. From Meadowlands Media Relations
Harness racing trainer Julie Miller thought Opulent Yankee might be well suited for series racing this winter at the Meadowlands, and so far the 4-year-old trotter has made good on the trainer's beliefs. Opulent Yankee, who joined Miller's stable in November, won both of his starts in the preliminary rounds of the Super Bowl Series for 3- and 4-year-old trotters at the Big M and is likely to be among the favorites in Saturday's $50,000 final. Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also features the $56,000 Escort Series final for 3- and 4-year-old male pacers and the $47,600 Worldly Beauty Series final for 3- and 4-year-old female pacers. Opulent Yankee will start the Super Bowl from post 10 with driver Andy Miller. Propulsion, who also won two preliminary divisions in the series, will leave from post one with Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Tony Alagna. Other division winners JL Cruze, Two Hip Dip and Blocking The Way drew posts four through six, respectively. Jeff Gural's Little E LLC bred and co-owns Opulent Yankee with Arthur Geiger, Jason Settlemoir and David Stolz. Gural also is among the owners of Propulsion, with Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco and the partnership of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband. "I've been really happy with him," Miller said about Opulent Yankee. "Mr. Gural sent him to us after Lexington and we evaluated him and we told him we really liked the horse. We thought he could be a major contender in the winter series at the Meadowlands and it's proven to be true. He's been good in the first two legs and hopefully he'll be right there for the final." Opulent Yankee (Muscles Yankee-Opulent Bluestone) was winless in eight starts at age 2, but finished third three times, including in a division of the Reynolds Memorial Stakes at Vernon Downs. He went off stride in his 2014 debut, in the Charles Smith Trot at Freehold in September, but rebounded to win in 1:51.4 in a late closer at The Red Mile two weeks later. After two more starts in October, Opulent Yankee was given time off. He was entered to sell in the November Standardbred Horse Sale's Mixed Sale, but was withdrawn. "He has a nice way of going and a great gait to him; a good attitude and nice size and conformation," Miller said. "When he was in Lexington he showed some speed, so I felt like he was definitely a horse that could be competitive at this level. If they show a little bit of talent at 2 and 3, there is something to work with from the get-go. "The first time Andy and I trained Opulent Yankee, I said to Andy that I hoped Mr. Gural didn't want to sell (Opulent Yankee) because I thought he would be something nice to hang onto for the 4-year-old year. I don't know if he can step up to being a Grand Circuit 4-year-old, but for what we're asking of him right now, I definitely think he's a major contender." Miller is no stranger to winter success at the Meadowlands. In 2013, she finished 1-2 in the Super Bowl with Windsun Galliano and Helios. Last year, she saw Perfect Alliance win the Singer Memorial Series and Bambino Glide capture two legs of the Horse & Groom Series. And in 2009, Lucky Jim won the Horse & Groom on his way to dominating the summer and fall open stakes and a Dan Patch Award as best older male trotter. Opulent Yankee's ownership group is the same partnership that raced Perfect Alliance last year. Opulent Yankee won his first round of the Super Bowl by 5-3/4 lengths over Annapolis in 1:55 and won his second round by a half-length over JL Cruze in 1:53.2. "I don't want to date myself, but when I first raced in the Super Bowl, they were going in (1):56 and (1):57 to win it," Miller said. "Now it's a whole different level of horses that are eligible to those races. It makes for competitive racing, which is what we're all looking for. There are no easy spots in these series. They've really developed a nice program for these horses. "This final should be a great race. It's going to be the draw and how the trip works out. But I have a lot of confidence in Andy and Opulent Yankee." by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA
Nick Salenetri was disappointed when knee woes prevented Two Hip Dip from beginning his racing career last season. After giving the trotter plenty of time to recover, Salenetri is looking forward to seeing what the horse can do when he makes his delayed debut in Thursday’s opening round of the Super Bowl series at the Meadowlands. “Hopefully he won’t embarrass me,” said Salenetri, who owns and trains Two Hip Dip. “I think he’s got some upside to him and I think we could have some fun with him. “He’s really a pleasure to be around; he’s got a great personality. He’s very well mannered. I think that’s his biggest asset. He doesn’t want to make a break and I think he can race from either behind or on top. And with a trotter that wants to stay flat, you can always have a little fun.” Salenetri bought Two Hip Dip for $16,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale. The horse is a son of stallion Glidemaster out of the mare Mayflower Volo and his family includes stakes-winners Missy’s Goalfire, Have You Ever, Lassie’s Goal and Lear Jetta. Two Hip Dip was unraced as a 2-year-old – Salenetri says he never races his horses at 2 – and was training well at 3 when a chip was discovered in one of his knees. After surgery, Salenetri decided to bring back the horse slowly. “If he didn’t have the chip in his knee, we would have raced him at 3,” Salenetri said. “(After his recovery) I figured we were so late in the season, I gave him as much time as he needed and took my time bringing him back. “We’ll see what happens at 4. I don’t have any great expectations, although it wouldn’t surprise me if he was a very, very nice horse. He shows me that he could be, but I’ll let him dictate what he wants to do. I’m not going to put him in a situation where he’s not going to be comfortable.” Salenetri has a small stable of horses in central New Jersey, where his primary business is operating a nationwide trade show transportation company. He is probably best known for the stakes-winning trotter Nikki Cole Cole, who finished second to the great Moni Maker in the 2000 Nat Ray Invitational. “The transportation company is a little more reliable than the horse industry, although I love the horse industry much more,” Salenetri said. “The horses are my passion. It’s enjoyable. It’s just a lot of fun being out there.” Two Hip Dip was originally named Mustbe Volo, but renamed because of his resemblance to another of Salenetri’s horses, Our Little Dip, who was born with a dropped hip. The “Dip” part of the name is a reference to the nickname of the Franklin & Marshall athletic teams – Diplomats – where the Salenetris’ daughter played soccer. “My wife Patty said he looks just like Our Little Dip, so you have to name him Two Hip Dip because he has two hips,” Salenetri said. Two Hip Dip enters the Super Bowl series off two qualifiers, winning the second in 1:59.1 with a :27.1 last quarter-mile. He competes in the fourth of four Super Bowl divisions Thursday and will start from post five with David Miller in the sulky. He is 12-1 on the morning line. “I didn’t plan on racing him until probably February, but he showed he was OK in both the qualifiers,” Salenetri said. “I asked Dave what he thought and he said I should take a chance and put him in and see how he does. He’s done everything good at this point coming back. “There are some very nice horses in (the Super Bowl series). We’ll try to teach him a little bit. Dave is superb at bringing around a young horse. He’s very conscientious. He knows exactly what he’s doing out there. I was very pleased when he was able to take him for me.” For more about the Super Bowl series, click here. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications
Windsun Galliano overcame post 10 by trotting off cover on the final turn to capture the $51,000 Super Bowl series final for 4-year-old trotters in a harness racing stakes record 1:53.4 on Saturday night (Jan. 26) at Meadowlands Racetrack.
When Windsun Galliano won a conditioned race in early January at the Meadowlands, he gave harness racing trainer Julie Miller career win No. 1,000. On Saturday night, the trotter will try to add to Miller's total with a victory in the $51,000 Super Bowl series final.
The upset bug hit early and often at The Meadowlands on a harness racing Thursday night. In the first division of The Super Bowl, Sweet Ben upset heavily favored Joyeux Dream at 6-1 while holding off 106-1 longshot Jailhouse Juice by a nose. That upset along with a pair of others triggered a Pick 5 payout of $2,291.50.
Jenny Melander always wanted to train her own horses, but she was too busy helping other harness racing trainers with their stables. Last summer, though, Melander decided to give it a go. She bought a 6-year-old trotter, Don Dinero, and became the lessee on a 3-year-old trotter, Wisenheimer.