by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Bushwacker prevailed after a length-of-the-stretch duel with even-money favorite Melmerby Beach to take the featured $17,000 conditioned pace at the Meadowlands Saturday night by three-quarters-of-a-length in 1:48.4, a lifetime best.
After Melmerby Beach grabbed the lead at the quarter in :26.2, Odds On Equuleus made the top at three-eighths before Bushwacker quickly brushed to command at the half in :53.2.
The eventual winner still had the lead at three-quarters (1:21.4) as Melmerby Beach crept closer from first-over after vacating the three hole at the five-eighths.
Melmerby Beach poked a head in front at one point as the duo battled through the stretch, but Bushwacker, who won a week ago in 1:49.3, repelled his challenger to go on to a dead-game victory. Alexie Mattosie, a 68-1 longshot, finished third.
As the 8-5 second choice, Bushwacker returned $5.20. The 5-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover was driven by Daniel Dube and is trained by Chris Ryder for the Henderson Farms of Chicago.
HIGHER AND HIGHER: Neither of the Big M’s 20 cent Jackpot Super High Five wagers had a single-ticket winner, setting up one big and one enormous carryover for the next live program.
The fifth-race wager now has a carryover of $15,884.81, while the 12th race JSH5 now sports a $253,827.71 jackpot. … Greg Merton drove three winners on the night, including the 4,000th of his career with Major Buddy A in the 11th race. Andy Miller also scored three times. … Racing resumes at the Meadowlands Friday at 7:15 p.m.