By Mike Farrell for the Meadowlands Racetrack
Razzle Dazzle and Foiled Again top the $50,000 divisions of the TVG Free-For-All Open Pace as the Championship Meet at The Meadowlands Racetrack shifts into high gear with an expanded program on Saturday night.
The stellar card also includes two $40,000 eliminations leading to the $180,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for Free-For-All trotters next Saturday, along with the $58,000 final of the Hudson River Series for horses bred in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
The Meadowlands will offer 14 races on Saturday, one more than usual. First post remains 7:15 p.m.
The extra race is a gesture of thanks to the owners and horsemen for their enthusiastic support of the Championship Meet.
“We want to show to them that we appreciate their efforts,” said Jason Settlemoir, General Manager/CEO. “This is the best way to demonstrate our gratitude. We look forward to working closely with them to make this a banner Championship Meet.”
The debut of the TVG Free-For-All Championship Series and the Cutler eliminations kick off the season-long race to the guaranteed $500,000 finals for older trotters and pacers at The Meadowlands on Nov. 30.
Each winner of the TVG Open Pace on Saturday will bank 35 points toward a qualifying berth in the finals. The two Cutler elimination winners each get 18 points; 35 more are on the line in next week’s final.
Razzle Dazzle has certainly lived up his name this season. The 6-year-old gelding trained by Mark Silva for Ira Kristel won his last three at Yonkers Raceway, including a neck victory over Foiled Again in the $450,000 Levy final.
He is the leading money-earner in the sport this season with $301,250 already in the bank.
“I really want to get him on the big track so I can see where I’m at with him,” said Silva, who took over the training late last year. “I think he’s a better horse on a big track because of his stride and size. I think he’s feeling sound and that combination has him starting to feel pretty good about himself.”
Silva knows it will be a challenge to keep Razzle Dazzle fit and sharp all the way to the $500,000 final at the end of November.
“Normally if you can get a horse to peak for six or eight weeks, you’ve done good for the year,” Silva said. “It’s a tough group this year but I think Razzle Dazzle can hold his own.”
Razzle Dazzle will face Golden Receiver, the king of the Meadowlands Free-For-All pacers each winter; Warrawee Needy, Dancin Yankee, Dynamic Youth and the Ron Burke Stable entry of Sweet Lou and Meirs Hanover.
Foiled Again, also trained by Burke, is the grand-old man of harness racing—still going strong at 9. He is the all-time richest pacer at $4.8 million. Based on his Levy performance of three straight wins before the narrow loss in the final, the classy veteran has not lost a step.
He will tackle Hurrikane Kingcole, Casimir Jitterbug, Modern Legend, Dial Or Nodial, Mr Hasani N and stablemate Fred And Ginger who races as a separate betting interest.
Mister Herbie returns to defend his Cutler title in an elimination with Tall Cotton, Ice Machine, Modern Family, My MVP, Undercover Strike and Googoo Gaagaa.
Wishing Stone, a career winner of $1.8 million and another of the “Burke Brigade” hitting The Meadowlands on Saturday, faces Calchips Brute, Big Sky Storm, Knows Nothing, Guccio, Opening Night and Sevruga.
Burke also holds a strong hand in the Hudson River final with an entry of Take It Back Terry and Visible Gold, a winner of 9 of 10 this season including a career best 1:49 3/5 victory at Tioga Downs last weekend.
On Friday night, The Meadowlands presents four divisions of the John Simpson Memorial for 3-year trotters split down the middle: two for the fillies and two for colts and geldings.
The Simpson kicks off The Meadowlands road to the $1.2 million Hambletonian here on Aug. 3. Fashion Blizzard, Bluto, Corky and My Man Can are among the Hambo hopefuls in the Simpson.
The Simpson, the Cutler, and the TVG Championship series are part of the Grand Circuit, harness racing’s showcase of the best Open competition.
The Meadowlands, a proud supporter of the Grand Circuit, will present a number of the sport’s most important stakes in the Championship Meet that runs through Hambletonian Day.