by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations
East Rutherford, N.J. -- Stakes-placed Gural Hanover ($2.80, part of entry) made his return to the races a triumphant one in the $25,000 Open Handicap Trot, and all-sources handle topped $3 million for the eighth consecutive card on Friday (February 26) evening at The Meadowlands.
Having drawn the outside post in the field of eight, Gural Hanover took no part in the early pace, retreating to seventh as last week's Open winner Crosbys Clam Bake (Scott Zeron) sprinted to a :27.2 initial quarter before ceding the lead to Can Do (Anthony Napolitano). Midway on the backstretch, Yannick Gingras floated the 5-year-old Crazed gelding off the pegs, latching onto the live cover of B Yoyo (Joe Bongiorno) through a :55.2 half and slipstreaming a pressured third quarter before swinging three-wide off a stalled B Yoyo a quarter from home. Gural Hanover kicked clear in upper stretch as the pacesetters faded, holding sway in the end by a driven half-length in 1:54.4 over entrymates Bourbon Bay (Corey Callahan), who charged willingly down the grandstand side after being shuffled to last, and Opulent Yankee (Andy Miller), who negotiated traffic to stay on.
Ron Burke trains Gural Hanover for the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Little E, LLC, and the Panhellenic Stable.
Burke and Gingras teamed up as well in the sub-featured $15,500 upper-level trot, as Its Huw You Know turned in a 19-1 upset in 1:54.2, kicking third-over cover to pass even-money favorite Dewycolorintheline and chase down pacesetter Hot Type in the final yards. The Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi co-own the 4-year-old Holiday Road gelding.
The evening's top distaff event--a $15,000 top-level conditioned pace--went to Clear View Hanover ($7.80), a pillar-to-post winner in 1:51.4 who battled gamely to stave off a vicious first-over press from Gweneeee J. Tim Tetrick drove the 7-year-old Western Ideal mare for trainer Henrik Lundell and owners Joie de Vie Farm and Guidetti Racing.
Anthony Napolitano led all drivers with four wins on the card, while Tetrick and Corey Callahan took three races apiece.
Punters combined to wager $3,245,266 on the 14-race card, carrying the streak of Meadowlands programs exceeding $3 million in turnover to eight.
Live racing returns to The Meadowlands on Saturday (February 27) evening, with over $113,300 in combined Jackpot High 5 carryovers and $105,000 in guaranteed Pick 4 and Pick 5 pools. Additionally, four seats for the World Harness Handicapping Championship are up for grabs in a live-bankroll qualifier on-track tomorrow (the entry fee is $400, including a $200 contest bankroll). Post time for the 14-race program is 6:35 p.m. Eastern.