East Rutherford, N.J. -- Following wins in mid-level and upper-level company, Kingofthejungle took the crown in Saturday (December 19) night’s featured $25,000 Open Pace at The Meadowlands, reeling off his third consecutive win.
Andy Miller settled the 4-year-old Well Said gelding into the mid-division early on, rated off a contested :27.1 first quarter. Upon yielding briefly on the first turn, 2-1 favourite Ashley’s Husband (Joe Bongiorno) brushed to secure the top spot, maintaining a torrid pace through a :54.2 half while Sunfire Blue Chip (Brett Miller) would head outer flow from midfield, slipstreamed by Kingofthejungle. With three-eighths to go, UF Rockin Dragon (Corey Callahan) pulled the pocket to avoid traffic, pushing past a tiring Ashley’s Husband through a :27.4 third quarter. Meanwhile, Kingofthejungle still enjoyed the aid of live cover, towed a bit closer before vaulting off his third-over trip just outside the eighth pole and accelerating to the fore in final 50 yards to just prevail in 1:50. Ontario Success (Yannick Gingras) rallied from farther off cover to just nab Sunfire Blue Chip for second.
Mark Capone trains Kingofthejungle for Fox Racing, Inc. and Darius Oshidar.
Earlier in the program, upper-level conditioned pacers contested a pair of $16,500 sub-featured events. In the evening’s sixth race, 2-1 joint favourite Sweet Beach alternated on the lead early with Halton Hurricane, yielding and reclaiming the lead through a :55.3 initial half before edging clear of a first-over charge from fellow joint favourite Jeneral Patton (Brett Miller). After a :27.4 third quarter, Anthony Napolitano let out a notch with Sweet Beach, and the 4-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding accelerated to a 3-1/4 length victory while in hand for a 1:50.3 triumph. Jeneral Patton checked in a clear second, while That’ll Be the Rei (Jim Marohn, Jr.) took full advantage of live cover to finish third.
Tom Cancelliere trains Sweet Beach, now a 7-time winner, for owner John Cancelliere.
The second sub-feature, carded as the ninth event, saw David Miller send 6-5 public choice Shooter’s Dream out from fourth to take charge at the completion of a :54.1 half mile before he was subsequently engaged by 17-1 outsider Mr Franklin N (Callahan). The two dueled through the entirety of the far turn, and in fact Shooter’s Dream was headed briefly by Mr Franklin N in upper stretch. The 5-year-old Sand Shooter gelding would not be denied though, battling back at the pegs to reach the winning post a half-length in front, matching Sweet Beach’s 1:50.3 mile from earlier. Mr Franklin narrowly held second from Duel In the Sun (Napolitano), who kicked cover to rally strongly.
David M. Smith trains 15-time winner Shooter’s Dream for owners Randy Bendis and Tom Pollack.
Total handle for the 14-race program was $2,936,828, a gain of $107,452 over the 13-race program from the comparable Saturday card in 2014.
Both Jackpot Super High 5 carryovers grew tonight, as neither pool was captured by a single 20-cent winning ticket. On the Boxing Day program, the fifth race High 5 will boast a $10,225.51 carryover, while the finale will have $40,952.10 added to the pool.
Live racing returns to The Meadowlands on Saturday, December 26. The Boxing Day card will kick off at 6:35 p.m. EST. For further details, visit playmeadowlands.com.