East Rutherford, N.J. -- Another step up, another convincing win.
Betty Tauber's Elrama N ($3.20) rose to the occasion in Friday (December 23) evening's featured $15,500 top-level conditioned pace at The Meadowlands, using a strong first-over push through the far turn to reel off his third win in a row.
Brett Miller was unhurried early on with the 7-year-old Elsu gelding, settling in fourth as Alberto Contador N (Jim Marohn, Jr.) and Rufo (Drew Monti) alternated on the lead through early splits of :27.2 and :55.4. At race's midpoint, Elrama N began his first-over ascent, charging boldly after Rufo, forcing a :28.3 third quarter, and pushing to the fore at head-stretch. After putting away Rufo, Elrama N edged clear of a brief bid from the second-over Windsun Stetson (Joe Bongiorno) and ultimately held sway by three-quarters of a length for a 1:51.4 score. El Bloombito (John Campbell) rallied down the grandstand side off third-over cover to narrowly take second over Alberto Contador N, who held third from his pocket trip.
Michael Russo trains Elrama N, now a 23-time winner. For Miller, the driving win was one of five on the program.
The early 20¢ Jackpot High Five was captured again in the night's fifth race, as 130-1 shot Miramontman (Steve Smith) sustained late gains to take fourth behind the favored trio of Toatsmygoats ($10.60, Andy Miller), Pansformative (2-1, Bongiorno), and Hugh Hefner N (2-1, Marohn) to spur a $5,834.08 score. UF Larry Alltheway (9-1, Tyler Smith) rounded out the 8-7-2-10-9 combination. The late Jackpot High Five will see $10,891.52 carry over to Thursday's card.
Total handle for the 13-race program was $2,868,800.
Live racing returns to the Big M with a 10-race card on Thursday (December 29), and programs on Friday (December 30) and Saturday (December 31) evenings to round out the 2016 season. Post time each night is 7:15 p.m. Eastern.