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Friday, December 9, 2016

Muscle Diamond back in action at Big M

by James Witherite, Meadowlands racing media

East Rutherford, N.J. – Breeders Crown placed Muscle Diamond returns to action for the first time in 13 months on Saturday (December 10) evening, where the 4-year-old son of Muscle Hill will face eight others in the night’s $18,000 featured trotting event, carded as the night’s seventh of 13 races.

The 6-time winner resurfaces after a stakes-laden sophomore campaign, which culminated in a third-place finish in the $500,000 Breeders Crown and a fourth-place effort in the $204,000 American National, both behind The Bank. Regular driver John Campbell is back aboard the Brett Bittle trainee after a sharp qualifier on November 18. Muscle Diamond, installed the 5-1 third choice in the morning line, will begin from post 4.

Another contender making a return appearance in the field is Danish Durango, the 9-2 early second choice. The 4-year-old Andover Hall entire was last seen in August, when he posted a 1:52.1 mile to just miss Its Huw You Know in a similar event. David Miller is back in the bike behind the 12-time winner for trainer Kevin McDermott.

A pair of stakes-proven distaffers in Classical Annie and Kelsey’s Keepsake figure to be prominent in the highly competitive feature as well. Classical Annie, a 4-year-old daughter of Andover Hall, was narrowly outdone by B Yoyo in last week’s top trotting event after a fourth-place finish behind Hannelore Hanover in the $200,000 TVG Final in November. Jim Marohn, Jr. steps in to handle the driving assignment of the 3-1 morning line favorite for Ron Burke.

Kelsey’s Keepsake returns from Yonkers after staying on for fourth in a Preferred event over a mile and a quarter last week. Like Classical Annie, the Yankee Glide mare worked forward belatedly in the TVG, gaining from last to save fifth. Joe Bongiorno retains the drive for trainer Richard Johnson.

A pair of $13,000 fourth-level pacing events, carded as races four and six, serve as supporting events on the card and also comprise half of the night’s early Pick 4 sequence. A combined $105,000 in guaranteed pools await players in the 50¢ Pick 5 and a pair of Pick 4 wagers spread across the program. First post is slated for 7:15 p.m. Eastern.