by Meadowlands Media Relations
While a trio of high-dollar trotting events headline Friday’s program at The Meadowlands, pacers will take centre stage on Saturday (December 12) evening, with a $16,500 upper-level conditioned event serving as the featured race on the 13-dash program.
Nine vie for the winner’s share of $16,500 in the top-level conditioned pace, carded as the night’s eighth race. Rockin Wizard, a recent runner-up in two straight upper-level events, has been installed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, and Scott Zeron returns to the bike for trainer Mike Russo. Starting from post 8, the 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding will be flanked by a pair of top-notch young contenders in Badix Hanover and Winds of Change. Badix Hanover (9-2), most recently sixth to Wiggle It Jiggleit in the Hap Hansen Progress Pace at Dover, will look to make amends for traffic trouble after enjoying seven wins already this season. John Campbell drives the sophomore Western Ideal gelding from post 7 for trainer Kevin McDermott. Winds of Change (5-1), a 4-year-old American Ideal entire, took a 1:48.2 mark at Mohawk earlier this year, but was fruitless in recent Open class events at Yonkers. Brett Miller handles the driving assignment for Hall-of-Fame trainer Jimmy Takter out of post 9.
While the outside trio pack a mighty punch, they face off against a trio of rising winners, including 3-1 morning line favourite Itrustyou. The Ron Burke trainee proved a dominant pillar-to-post winner over first-level company two races back on November 21, since defeating mid-level foes at Harrah’s Philadelphia in similar fashion. Yannick Gingras will once again drive the 49-time winner, leaving from post 4. Other rising winners are Real Nice (Andy McCarthy, post 5), invading from Plainridge, and Kingofthejungle (Andy Miller, post 6), whose :25.3 closing quarter last week pushed him clear of dueling pacesetters in deep stretch.
A pair of third-level conditioned paces act as supporting events, with projected favourites coming from a duo of powerful stables. In the $14,000 opener, the red-hot Kyle Spagnola sends out 2-1 morning line choice Our Dragon King. The 5-year-old Dragon Again gelding made every yard a winning one before kicking clear to a 1:50.4 triumph over second-level foes in his most recent try. Andy Miller is back in the bike, and the pair will start from post 6 in a field that also includes Bettor Than You (Gingras, post 3), a game third-place finisher at this level last week in his first start back off a nearly three-month layoff. The evening’s seventh race sees Burke trainee Panchester United installed as the 5-2 morning line selection, stepping down off an even fourth-place finish at Harrah’s Philadelphia against just tougher. He’s shown consistent staying power, but will have to face an improving Bondi Hanover (Corey Callahan, post 4) and class-droppers Jet Airway (Marcus Miller, post 7) and Pointsman (Todd Frocione, post 8).
Punters have ample targets at which to shoot on Saturday night’s card, as nine of the 13 races feature full 10-horse fields. To sweeten the pot some, a Pick 5 and two Pick 4s offer combined guaranteed pools of $105,000, and the closing-race Jackpot High-5 will see a carryover in excess of $28,700 should it elude Friday evening’s players.
Post time for the Saturday card is 7:00 p.m. For more information on harness racing at The Meadowlands, visit playmeadowlands.com.