With The Championship Meet upon us, The Grand Circuit took center stage on Friday night at The Meadowlands.
The three-year-old filly pacers contested the $43,106 W.N. Reynolds Memorial.
On paper it was a very competitive field of seven and it played out that way on the racetrack. Bettor Be Steppin, sent off as a very slight 8/5 favourite would dictate the terms establishing a tempo of :27, :55.4 and 1:24. She turned for home with the 9/5 second choice, Happiness, right on her back.
Bedroomconfessions was grinding away first over, with Divine Caroline riding her cover. With just an eighth of a mile to go, these four fillies lined up across the track. Happiness found room at the pylons and sprinted through to the tune of a :26.3 final quarter to win going away in the end. Divine Caroline rallied off cover to finish up second with Bedroomconfessions third.
Happiness was driven to victory by Yannick Gingras for Ron Burke who co-owns the filly with Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The 1:50.3 clocking was a lifetime mark for the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover.
The $39,816 John Simpson Memorial for three-year-old filly trotters was also a part of the Grand Circuit action on Friday night.
Rileys Dream was bet down to 3/5 favouritism, but she would find herself locked in throughout the first three-quarters of a mile as Shaqline never found the pylons and remained parked out outside Rileys Dream throughout. In the meantime, Rules Of The Road showed tremendous early speed for Dave Miller as she reeled off fractions of :27.1, :56.1 and 1:25.1 while trotting unopposed on the lead throughout the mile. Turning for home, Rules Of The Road kicked away from the field and she was never threatened, winning in 1:54.
The win was one of four on the night for Dave Miller and the winner is eligible to The Hambletonian Oaks for trainer Janice Connor who co-owns the filly with Arden Homestead Stable.
A field of six top mares went to the gate in the $27,500 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace. Sayitall BB was the aggressor moving to the front and leading the charge around the track, reaching the half-mile in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:24.3. The Breeders Crown winner turned for home with the lead, but the field began to close in. With mares coming from anywhere, the mare coming fastest of all was the one closing from last, Weeper. She appeared on the far left of the screen and sprinted home to a sub-26 second final quarter to win. Weeper was driven by Brett Miller for Jimmy Takter and owners Bay Pond Racing Stable.
Weeper is eligible to all the major stakes for the mare pacers at The Meadowlands, including the TVG Championships.
Jerseylicious returned a winner on Friday night at The Meadowlands, winning an upper level condition event for fillies and mares pacers. Sent off as the overwhelming 1/5 favourite Jerseylicious secured a pocket trip behind the speedy That Woman Hanover. But Dave Miller decided it was time to move with three-eighths of a mile to go and he pulled the pocket with Jerseylicious, securing the lead prior to the three quarter pole. From there, the five year old daughter of Western Ideal opened up several lengths and was able to fend off the late brush of Beautiful Lady to score in 1:50.4, just three-fifths off her lifetime mark.
Jerseylicious is well-staked at The Meadowlands, including eligibility to the TVG Championship for the Pacing Mares, Golden Girls and The Lady Liberty.
Muscle Network made it back to back wins Friday. The former Valley Victory Champion made it five wins from 13 career starts with his 1:53.3 winning performance. His earnings are now past $335,000 lifetime and he is eligible to The Graduate series which gets underway on Memorial Day at Tioga Downs.
Hambletonian eligibles were prominent on the program Friday night and a couple of them won.
Soboro Hanover won a maiden event for Nifty Norman and Dave Miller. The $75,000 Harrisburg yearling was equipped with trotting hopples and responded by sprinting a visually impressive final quarter to score in a sharp 1:54.3.
Additionally, Dapper Don, making his three-year-old debut, scored in impressive first-over fashion in 1:55.4. The connections have a Hambletonian-ring to them, being the same that won the 2012 Hambletonian with Market Share, including driver Tim Tetrick, who was very high on the colt.
“He’s come a long way,” said Tetrick. “He let me drive him how I wanted, let me put him where I wanted. He’s matured.”
Current Crisis and Robert Krivelin were victories in the $15,000 GSY Amateur Final. Despite a frenzy of action that saw trotters stacked three and four wide on the first turn, Krivelin was able to secure a position near the lead where he tracked Mr Ridgetaker who was very wide early and Bambino Hall. Krivelin guided his trotter to the lead past the half-mile pole and Current Crisis opened up daylight from there, soaring past three-quarters and romping to an easy triumph. Hannah Miller was forced very wide behind stalled trotters coming off the bend and finished with a flourish to be secon