by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations
East Rutherford, N.J. -- After a well-deserved layoff stretching the fall and half of the winter, 15-time winner Rockeyed Optimist is ready to return to the races with two sharp qualifiers under his harness. The 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding has been installed the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday (February 6) evening's featured eighth race at The Meadowlands.
As a 4-year-old, Rockeyed Optimist won nine of 15 races, including the $59,000 Sonsam final and the $59,000 Clyde Hirt final as well as two Graduate Series preliminaries. His mark of 1:48 came in his Graduate preliminary at the Meadowlands last June. Regular driver Tim Tetrick is reunited with the Steve Elliott trainee, and they will begin from post 5 in the field of eight. Among the others to square off in the $17,000 upper-level conditioned event are Scott Blackler trainee Real Nice (post 8, Scott Zeron), a winner in three straight, including a 1:49.4 triumph at this level last week, Class Six (post 4, Joe Bongiorno), who seeks a fifth straight win after reeling off four straight at Dover, and Kingofthejungle (post 3, Andy Miller), an Open winner five starts back.
The $15,000 fourth event is the featured trot on the night, with a full field of ten non-winners of six races or $100,000 slated to do battle. Ron Burke trainee Its Huw You Know (post 8) seeks consecutive wins at this level, drawing off to a decisive four-length victory last week after making all the pace. Joe Bongiorno drives the 2-1 morning line favorite with usual driver Yannick Gingras on holiday. Lining up to their inside are the speedy Axios (post 3, Austin Siegelman), a 1:53.4 winner in a third-level race two weeks ago, and the versatile Magenta Man (post 5, Andy Miller), who rises from second-level events after three consecutive wins from three different sorts of trip.
As is standard, over $100,000 of guaranteed pools await punters in the evening's Pick 5 (beginning in race 3) and pair of Pick 4s (beginning in races 5 and 9). Additionally, the twin 20¢ Jackpot High 5 wagers will boast over $88,000 in combined carryover money should Friday's High 5s not be tackled by a single punter.
Guests on track Saturday night can register to win one of two 40-inch high definition televisions, with the winners drawn following the seventh race. Post time for the 14-race card is 6:35 p.m. EST.