by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations
East Rutherford, N.J. -- Opulent Yankee ($5.40) is finding is best stride again, capturing Friday (February 5) evening's featured $25,000 Open Handicap Trot at The Meadowlands in pillar-to-post fashion, digging deep to hold sway for a 1:53 triumph in the night's second of 14 races.
Andy Miller sent the 5-year-old Muscles Yankee gelding immediately to the fore, stretched out a bit by Uva Hanover (Tim Tetrick) on approach to the first turn. Upon clearing, Opulent Yankee set uncontested splits of :27.4, :56.2, and 1:24.3, leading the septet throughout. Just above the eighth pole, Uva Hanover angled off the pegs to give chase, and Opulent Yankee sternly fought him off for the remainder of the stretch for a three-quarter length victory. A Little More Love (Joe Bongiorno) stayed on for third at 39-1 off a close and clear tracking trip, while Bourbon Bay (Corey Callahan) rallied mildly up the inside to save fourth.
Julie Miller trains 10-time winner Opulent Yankee for the partnership of Little E, Geiger, Settlemoir, and Stolz.
The sub-featured seventh event was a $16,000 top-level distaff pace, and one of four driving wins on the program for Tim Tetrick. "The Bionic Man" teamed up with Clear View Hanover ($8.40), and the pair bobbed and weaved through traffic at head-stretch before finding clearance up the pegs in the final 150 yards. Clear View Hanover had just enough to nose out Gweneeee J (Scott Zeron)--who had the aid of a textbook second-over trip--in 1:52.2. Henrik Lundell trains the 7-year-old Clear View Hanover for Joie de Vie Farm and Guidetti Racing.
Tetrick's other winners on the evening were Mr Lover ($5.80, 1:56), Sheer Flex ($5.40, 1:55.1), and Andovers Touch ($2.40, 1:56.2).
While a single punter in Maine took down the 50¢ Pick 5 for $109,966.10, both Jackpot High 5s carry over to Saturday's 14-race program. The seventh race High 5 will feature $16,452 in added money, while the finale will boast a $77,928 carryover.
Friday's program saw a third consecutive handle of over $3 million, with $3,132,380 in total handle representing a $397,990 increase over the corresponding Friday card in 2015.
Live racing returns Saturday (February 6), with the first of 14 races due off at 6:35 p.m. Eastern time.