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Winning Mister survived a stiff challenge from an unexpected source as well as a judges’ inquiry en route to victory in Monday’s $22,500 Preferred Handicap Trot at the Meadows.

Winning Mister dueled with Sir Caviar for the early lead, forced to go :26.3 to get there. Although Sir Caviar broke stride in the lane, Winning Mister and Dave Palone still had to contend with Big And Little, a 9-1 outsider who was relentless first over. Winning Mister defeated the upstart by a head in 1:54.1, but only after the judges certified that the six-year-old son of Angus Hall Winning Missbrenda did not violate any pylon rules. Rembrandt Spur was third.

Rich Gillock trains Winning Mister, who has won 12 of 15 starts this year and $1,077,995 in his career, for owner/breeder Bob Key.

Palone drove three winners on the 16-race card, bringing his career victory total to 15,135 as he pursues Herve Filion’s North American record of 15,180.