Ettore Annunziata's 4-year-old Somebeachsomewhere entire ships in from Yonkers after a quartet of solid efforts, earning back-to-back wins against other 4-year-olds before he was engulfed late in an open event last week, only mustering a fourth-place finish after setting a torrid pace. Melmerby Beach has been installed the 5-2 morning line favourite, and John Campbell drives the 15-time winner from post 7.
Melmerby Beach will square off against William Donovan's Ashley's Husband (3-1, post 1), who reeled off back-to-back wins from off the pace since arriving at the Meadowlands with a sharp qualifier. Two weeks ago, he kicked cover to defeat top-level conditioned company by way of a :26.1 closing sectional. Trainer Kyle Spagnola, sporting a .517 rating so far this meet, once again nominates Joe Bongiorno to handle the driving duties. Other top contenders include Ron Burke trainee Ontario Success (7-2, post 5, Yannick Gingras) and Jimmy Takter trainee Sunfire Blue Chip (9-2, post 3, Brett Miller), both of which rise from narrow local wins, along with UF Rockin Dragon (10-1, post 6, Corey Callahan) who most recently defeated upper-level foes at Yonkers before shipping over the Hudson River for trainer Mark Ford.
A pair of sub-featured upper-level conditioned events take place earlier in the card, with each $16,500 dash open to pacers which have not won $15,000 in their last five starts or seven races.
In the first sub-featured event, carded as race six, Benjaminbanneker N looks to rebound from recent traffic trouble, not lacking for pace in his last two outings after charing home from far back to prevail in 1:51.1 on November 21. Corey Callahan drives the 3-1 morning line choice for trainer Bob Bresnahan from post 8. A pair of strong shippers from Harrah's Philadelphia line up in the closing leg of the early Pick 4 as well, with Jeneral Patton (7-2, post 3, Brett Miller) coming in off back-to-back runner-up efforts, and What I Believe (4-1, post 10, Mike Simons) dropping down from top-level events in his fourth start off the claim for owner Albert Abdala, III and trainer Shawn Simons.
The sub-featured ninth race sees 5-2 morning line choice Shooter's Dream return at this level after mounting first-over bids in his last three races and subsequently sustaining them to hit the board on all three occasions. David Miller opted to drive the 5-year-old Sand Shooter gelding for trainer David M. Smith. "The Buckeye" was also nominated on Sicily, a winner in two of his last three races at Philadelphia. Andy Miller takes the lines on the Wayne Givens trainee installed as the 7-2 second choice. Also of note, Mah Sish N invades from Yonkers off a narrow win against just easier company. Ireland native Jonathan Dunne takes the lines of the 9-year-old Mach Three gelding for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman.
All save two of Saturday's 14 races feature at least ten horses, while six boast overflow fields of eleven. Paired with $105,000 in guaranteed pools through the evening's Pick 5 and twin Pick 4 wagers, punters have ample opportunity to maximize value. As of Friday morning, the fifth-race Jackpot High-5 carries $7,181.28 in added money, while the final race Jackpot High-5 boasts a $34,296.44 carryover.
The first race on Saturday's card is due off at 7:00 p.m. EST. For more information on racing, dining, and entertainment at The Meadowlands, visit playmeadowlands.com.