NJ Sire Stakes Finals Featured Friday
The $200,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes finals for two-year-old trotters head the Friday night (July 16) program at The Meadowlands.
A trotting renaissance has taken place in the Garden State over the past decade, largely due to the presence of the great Muscle Hill, who brought relevance to the state program when his syndicate had the fortitude and foresight to stand him in New Jersey upon his retirement in 2010. His stud career has been nothing short of remarkable, and it is not an exaggeration to say that his presence sparked the resurrection of the New Jersey Standardbred breeding industry.
In subsequent years, the NJSS program has rebounded in both the level of the purses and quality of trotting stallions standing in the state. Exciting prospects like Walner, Tactical Landing, Six Pack, and, most recently, Propulsion have made New Jersey the trotting capital of the continent and beyond. The possibilities for their progeny transcend the regional program and offer the promise Grand Circuit success.
The first crop by Walner has had an immediate and substantial impact on the NJSS freshmen in 2021, as his sons and daughters have won 11 of the 13 preliminary divisions leading into tonight's finals. The 20 starters in the finals are comprised of 11 by Muscle Hill and nine by Walner.
The NJSS colt final, carded as race six, features over $1 million worth of freshman phenoms competing for the top prize. Interestingly, the three Walner colts in the race all went through the preliminary legs unbeaten.
The slight morning line choice is King Of The North, whom Mark MacDonald has driven flawlessly throughout the series for trainer Ray Schnittker. The son of champion Check Me Out dug deep to hold a closing rival at bay last week in 1:54.2. King Of The North is owned by the trainer as Schnittker Ward in partnership with Arden Homestead Stable, Nolamaura Racing and Steve Arnold. He was a $190,000 Lexington purchase from breeders Schnittker and Steve Jones.
Temporal Hanover scored the division's fastest win of the season thus far last week when he rallied late through a :27.2 final quarter to get up in 1:54.1. Marcus Melander conditions the colt from Think Twice for owners AMG Stable, Kenneth Kjellgren, Rick Wahlstead and Heights Stable, and Brian Sears takes over the lines for the final. Temporal Hanover was a $55,000 yearling bred by Hanover Shoe Farms.
The third unbeaten Walner colt has close ties to his famous father. Majestic J is owned by Ken Jacobs, who also selected, purchased and owned Walner throughout his star-crossed racing career. Majestic J has demonstrated extreme speed from the start and most recently flashed a glimpse into his determination by digging deep to fight off a well-meant rival in last week's race. David Miller is the driver and Tony Alagna the trainer of the $115,000 Lexington buy, who was bred by Coyote Wynd Farms.
Looks Like Moni has the distinction of being the only leg winner who is not sired by Walner. The Muscle Hill colt from Thats All Moni starts from the rail for trainer Nancy Takter. He sat out leg two after his first leg win, which apparently impressed Hall Of Fame driver Tim Tetrick enough to stick with him over Temporal Hanover. Looks Like Moni is a Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld homebred.
Race 10 will be the stage for the fairer sex. The amount required to buy those offered at auction would have been around $1.5 million.
Venerable is linemaker Dave Brower's choice based on her unblemished record and the ease with which she has achieved it. David Miller has raced the Walner filly from Jolene Jolene, a $210,000 Lexington purchase by Dave McDuffee, Mel Hartman, Paul Bordogna and Steve Arnold, from off the lead in each of her starts, and last week she blazed home in :26.3 to close out a 1:54.3 win. Nifty Norman trains Venerable, who was bred by Maumee River Stable and Black Creek Farm.
Penelope J also represents the Ken Jacobs/Walner connection and may be the main threat to the top choice. She was a first-leg winner for driver Scott Zeron, then a very good second last week, getting snapped right on the wire in a 1:54.4 mile after being active throughout. Linda Toscano, who trained Walner for Jacobs, conditions this daughter of Decadence, a $160,000 Lexington yearling buy from breeders KR Breeding and Preferred Equine Marketing.
The $100,000 NJSS pacing finals drew just four horses for each and will be raced before the pari-mutuel card at 6 p.m. and included in the television broadcast for you viewing pleasure.
Post time for Friday's races is 6:20 p.m.