by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations
East Rutherford, N.J. -- A monstrous :25.4 closing quarter propelled William J. Donovan's Ashley's Husband ($14.60) to the fore in the closing strides of Saturday (February 6) evening's featured $17,000 top-level conditioned pace at The Meadowlands.
Brett Miller settled well off the pace with the 6-year-old Henry Clay gelding, second from last through a :55.1 half with a contested pace in front of him. Just after 8-5 favorite Kingofthejungle (John Campbell) wrested command from Jet Airway (Marcus Miller) upon reaching the backstretch, Ashley's Husband slid second-over to follow the cover of Rockeyed Optimist (Tim Tetrick) en route to the far turn. Ashley's Husband would ultimately be carried to the five-path, as Jet Airway and Class Six (Joe Bongiorno) were produced from just off the pacesetter after a :28.2 third split. Despite Class Six making a three-wide push to the lead at the eighth pole, Ashley's Husband descended late, vaulting past the gaining Rockeyed Optimist and Jet Airway for a 1:50.3 score. Pacesetter Kingofthejungle was engulfed in upper stretch, fading to finish seventh of the octet.
Kyle Spagnola trains Ashley's Husband, now a 24-time winner. For Miller, the win was the middle of a natural hat trick, as he also partnered with Shooter's Dream ($17.40, 1:50) and All Week ($17.20, 1:50.4) in the preceding and following races.
The evening's sub-featured event, a $15,000 trot for non-winners of six races or $100,000, saw Magenta Man ($8.20) handle a significant class hike with aplomb, holding sway from Hot Summer Knight to prevail in 1:55. Early breaks from Axios and Its Huw You Know enabled the 4-year-old Muscles Yankee Gelding to set a leisurely and uncontested pace before edging to a 1-3/4 length pillar-to-post victory in rein to Andy Miller. Julie Miller trains Magenta Man, now a winner of four straight, for Little E, LLC and RBH Ventures, Inc.
Total handle for the 14-race card was $3,162,502, marking a fourth consecutive program at The Meadowlands with at least $3 million wagered. Neither 20¢ Jackpot High 5 was taken down by a single punter, so next Friday's (February 12) program will see carryovers of $22,115 and $92,662 in the seventh and final races respectively. First post for the Friday card is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Eastern time.