The Meadowlands – Breakfast With The Babies, Pace Day edition, began at 9:30 a.m. on a windless, muggy morning with the temperature at 72 degrees.
Making his first public appearance a winning one this morning was Tactical Landing, the colt trotter who gained notice when it took a bid of $800,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale by his eponymous ownership group to buy him. Trainer Bobby Stewart has brought the physically imposing Muscle Hill brother to the great Mission Brief along purposefully with late season stakes the target and Hall of Famer Brian Sears handled him with care in his debut. The pair settled third early and sat in past the 1:32 three panels where Sears moved Tactical Landing to the outside, the colt responded by trotting strongly through the stretch in 28 seconds. Finishing second in a quality effort after setting all the fractions was Treasure Staff, who was catch driven by Jimmy Takter for trainer Ron Gurfein in an meld of Hall of Fame trotting minds. One can’t help but wonder if Takter had any post-race advice for Gurf.
Trotting fillies kicked off the nine two-year-old races with Deschanel, a homebred Yankee Glide sister to D’Orsay and half-sister to International star Propulsion, winning in 1:58.2 for Dave Miller. Settled in third through the 1:29.3 three quarters, Deschanel rolled by Lindy On Tap (Domenico Cecere) when shown racetrack through the stretch. It made for a good day for her trainer Bobby Stewart who conditions the filly for Fredericka Caldwell and Bluestone Farms.
Aperfectruby won the second race in 1:58.3 converting a perfect trip from driver Scott Zeron for trainer Ron Burke. After a pair of unsuccessful tries at Harrah’s the $65,000 Lexington Sale purchase by Burke, Melillo, Silva, Purnel, Libby, Weaver & Bruscemi looked safe today and edged by mile-cutter Glide Onin Sabrina (Jan Johnson) late.
Jimmy Marohn, Jr picked up the drive on Linda Toscano’s Chapter Seven colt Helpisontheway and took advantage of the opportunity by mowing down the field from far back in a well-timed move. Southwind Camo (Scott Zeron) set the fractions as Maron sat patiently near the back waiting to launch Helpisontheway and when he did the colt responded beautifully through the 29.4 end to the 1:59.2 mile. Lindyinoverdrive also rallied well late for Domenico Cecere but couldn’t stall the winner’s bid. Toscano shares ownership of the colt as Camelot Farms with The Bay Stable.
Lindy’s Big Bang (David Miller) and Make It a Double (Julie Miller) battled right to the wire in a 1:58.4 mile and could not be separated by the camera finishing in a dead heat for win. Both were in close attendance as Prince William (Zeron) cut the mile until head-stretch when Make It A Double went by from the pocket and Lindy’s Big Bang closed up the inside for the tie. Lindy’s Big Bang is trained by Nifty Norman for the partnership of Mel Hartman, Dave McDuffee and the driver who paid $70,000 for the Explosive Matter colt in Lexington last fall. Make It A Double ($80,000 LEX-SEL) is trained in the Julie Miller barn for Andy Miller Stable and Jason & Doug Allen.
Youaremycandygirl has the championship gene, being an American Ideal first foal of Sweet Lady Jane who is a Somebeachsomewhere sister to Sweet Lou and Bettor Sweet, enough that Bill Donovan ponied up a cool $150,000 for her at Harrisburg last fall. Bill placed her in the Burke barn and she’s been flawless, save for an interference break in a NYSS at Vernon last week. In her first go over the Big M, Youaremycandygirl flaunted her speed with a 1:53.2 win pacing home in 27 flat for Joe Bongiorno. Band Stand (Sears) was in close attendance throughout and held well for second.
Takter drove the pacing filly Betterthanbrie to a 1:56 / 28 win, setting all the fractions then barely holding pocket sitter Odds On Stepahnie (Zeron) at bay. The winner is a homebred from the first crop of Betterthancheddar raised and raced by Christina Takter and John Fielding.
A pair of fast colts finished together in race eight where Bodega Bay finally made it through that pesky final turn pacing for Scott Zeron and finished his 1:54 mile with a 28.1 final quarter for the win. The winner is a Brittany Farms owned Vintage Master homebred from the fast Nikki Beach who has evidenced high speed in his previous starts, if trainer Tony Alagna has solved the puzzle he’ll be heard from this summer. I’m A Big Deal (Sears) wove his way through traffic to be a closing second. That one was a high dollar buy for trainer Chris Ryder and shows great promise as well.
Takter closed out the baby races with a front running 1:55.4 win aboard Thinkbig Dreambig in that Bettors Delight colt’s first start. He was driven out to hold off the close Pecorino (Sears) from the pocket in a 27.3 final quarter. Thinkbig Dreambig was a $180,000 Lexington but for Brixton Medical, Fielding, Anderberg and Falk.
Princess Aurora (Takter) and International Money (Zeron) went to the wire in tandem with the Princess prevailing in 1:53.3, final quarter in 27.4 this morning. Connections for both have made Hambletonian Day on August 5 the target date for this pair.
Takter wrapped the day up by winning in 1:56 with his returning 2015 Hambletonian winner Pinkman. After a long layoff, Pinkman is in the midst a gradual return to top form.
Tonight is Meadowlands Pace night with the signature race of the "Championship Meet" and all that comes with it.