by Darin Zoccali
One of the better trotting mares in harness racing the past three years, Handover Belle ,found the winner’s circle for the fifth time this season in the $25,000 featured Open Trot on Friday night at The Meadowlands.
One week after missing by just a neck at the same level and two starts removed from a third place finish in the $200,000 TVG Mares Trotting Championship, Handover Belle defeated the boys to score a 1:53.4 triumph in the featured trot.
Sent to the post as the 3/5 favorite, Handover Belle sat third early, before brushing towards the three-eighths pole where the mare took over command from last week’s winner Crosbys Clam Bake. Handover Belle coasted through a 59-second middle half before facing a challenge from longshot Tirade Hanover as the field left the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, the challenges came from all sides, with Opulent Yankee lunging to the wire off cover, but Handover Belle was able to dig-down and hold on by a head over that rival. Cash Me Out was a half-length behind in third. The first five finishers were covered by just one and a half-lengths.
Handover Belle was driven by her long-time partner in the sulky, Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke. The iron-tough mare is owned by Burke Racing Stable, H. and J. Taylor and Weaver Bruscemi.
The win was the 17th in the mare’s career and her earnings are now just shy of $565,000 lifetime.
It was Miller Time early and often on Friday night at The Meadowlands. “The Buckeye” who has not slowed down since winning five Breeders Crown Championships in Canada, won four races on the card, including three of the first seven. He also scored in the 12th race for pacing mares with Icommandmyspirit. One of his four Friday night wins was a 38-1 upset in the $20,000 Dash For The “G NOTES” Trotting Final.
In that race, Ulster was sent off as the 2-1 favorite and led at the first three point of calls through strong fractions of 27.1, 55.2 and 1:25, but he could not sustain that speed in the stretch. In the meantime, Massacaia was handled smartly off the gate and found a comfortable spot on the pylons stalking the speed. When the leader kicked away on the far turn, Miller was able to guide his horse to the outside and he quickly reeled in the favorite and opened up impressively to win going away for a lifetime best victory of 1:54.1.
Longshot Soapy Sap, making her 97th career start at The Meadowlands, rallied up the pylons to finish second, while Fox Valley Legend overcame a tough trip where he was stacked up last with dull cover to finish third.
The winner was conditioned by Jason Robinson for owner Robert Main.
Cash Poor reached the $100,000 plateau for the 2015 racing season with a win in the $20,000 Open II Trot on Friday night at The Meadowlands.
Sent to the post as the 1/2 prohibitive betting choice, Cash Poor was allowed to relax mid-pack in the early going before launching a backstretch brush to the lead. The seven year old gelding reached the half-mile in a sharp 55.2, but quickly faced a challenge from the oncoming Hyway Marcus, who was racing on Lasix for the first time for conditioner Ron Burke. The pair reached three-quarters in 1:24.2 while racing on even terms. But in the stretch, Cash Poor found another gear and accelerated away for Dave Miller to win convincingly in 1:53.1, a new lifetime mark. Hyway Marcus raced well to be second, while longshot KLM Express rounded out the trifecta.
The win was the 10th on the season for Cash Poor, for trainer Harold Reddick Jr., who conditions the trotter for Traylor Racing L.L.C..
Handle for the 13-race program was $2,720,893, an increase of $411,165 or 18-percent compared to the same Friday in 2014.
Racing returns on Saturday with a first race post time of 7:00 P.M.