New Jersey Classic Series Champions Crowned

Sig Sauer winning at The Meadowlands

The weekend's first set of New Jersey Classic Series finals headlined Meadowlands Racetrack's Friday night harness action.

Soiree Hanover upset her foes and favourite Sig Sauer commanded his field as each won a New Jersey Classic Series final for two-year-old trotters.

In the $275,000 final for two-year-old filly trotters, Soiree Hanover did not get a call until driver Tim Tetrick powered her five-wide in the stretch to win in 1:53.1.

From the :27.1 first quarter through the 1:25 third panel, favourite Chaparmbro led the field. Walcango, Miss I La and Warrawee Michelle lined up behind her, chasing with no particular threat.

Soiree Hanover watched a few closers on the inside line up in attempts to pass Chaparmbro, but still appeared to be out of contention. Then after the second turn, Buy A Round and Warrawee Michelle aimed their strides at Chaparmbro down the center of the track, but Soiree Hanover soared five-wide and floated by the favourite by a neck at the wire in a lifetime-best clocking of 1:53.1. Chaparmbro finished second and Buy A Round was third. 

Lucas Wallin trains Soiree Hanover, a daughter of Walner. Snogarps Gard Inc. owns the winner, who has now earned $192,425. She paid $14.80 to win.

“The first quarter helped us a bit,” said Wallin, but noted he didn’t give Tetrick any specific ideas on how to get the best from the filly. “She started very good [this year] and hasn’t done anything wrong."

Wallin also said that “she won over a couple of the best [in her division]” and he was looking forward to making it to the Breeders Crown.

Undefeated Sig Sauer (pictured above) was a huge favourite over eight others in the two-year-old colt and gelding trot (Poof Of Record scratched), and the son of Muscle Hill never gave up ground once on the lead to win the $275,000 final in 1:53.3.

Driver Andrew McCarthy was best in the early shuffling as the colts left the gate. G O A T rolled toward the lead and Mr Grant took it over before giving it up to Mosquito, small contests that were moot once Sig Sauer lifted first-over to pass them all after a :28.2 first panel.

On the lead, the Noel Daley-trained colt began his trouncing, cutting the half in :57 and three-quarters in 1:26, bothered by none and expanding to three lengths the best as he flew over the last strip of ground and won, equalling his best of four wins with another 1:53.3 victory. Mosquito was the best of the rest getting the place spot, beaten a length, and Mr Grant hustled to take the show spot. 

Patricia Stable, Joe Sbrocco And JAF Racing, Allister Stables and Caviart Farms own Sig Sauer, who paid $3.80 to win.

Noel Daley said Sig Sauer was “very strong tonight,” adding that he learned to be a great trotter because “it took a while [before his first race] to get his gait going.” Once that was not no longer an issue, “he gives only what he needs to give” and has not lost yet.

Daley said he wants to bring him back next year and aim for The Hambletonian.

Sig Sauer has now earned $279,500 as he heads to The Red Mile and hopes to score in the Breeders Crown.

Sophomore trotting filly Tactical Mounds went the distance and sophomore trotting colt Air Power muscled through to take their respective $275,000 finals of the New Jersey Classic Series.

Tactical Mounds gutted through late pressure to hold in the New Jersey Classic final for three-year-old trotting fillies in a 1:52.1 mile, equalling her lifetime mark.

Driver Scott Zeron floated Tactical Mounds forward from post 10 and cleared command over The Wise One well after a :28.2 first quarter. Tactical Mounds then strolled unchallenged up the backside to a :56 half and motored through the final turn as her rivals struggled to get moving along the rim.

By three-quarters in 1:24.1, Tactical Mounds slipped away from her competition while Quick Stop and Blonde Bombshell shook loose. Tactical Mounds began drifting from the pegs by the eighth pole as Quick Stop dove inside and kept gaining ground with Blonde Bombshell also progressing to the outside. Quick Stop gave one final push for the lead in the closing strides, but Tactical Mounds re-engaged and kept a head in front at the beam. Blonde Bombshell settled for third and Secret Volo took fourth.

“As you could see, it was a long stretch. She felt like a million dollars at the three-quarter pole, and she got tired. But thank God we hit the wire,” said Zeron. “Hambo Day, she was great [winning in the Continentalvictory] and she really stepped her game up, and that was when we thought she could play with some good horses. Today, doing it out of the 10-hole, it was only going to be about how she got off the wings for me; to dictate where I was going to sit. She got out of there beautifully – Timmy [Tetrick with Quick Stop] was the one I was super worried about, but he had to sit third.”

The win by Tactical Mounds plumped her swelling bankroll over $200,000 for owner Thestable Tactical Mounds. Megan Scran conditions the daughter of Tactical Landing who has now won seven races from 22 starts. She paid $11 to win.

Air Power marched onward to the far turn and sailed through the lane under restraint to a 1:51 victory in the $275,000 New Jersey Classic Series final for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings.

Little Expensive grabbed the lead to a :28 first quarter with Up Your Deo in the pocket and Oh Well settled in third before plying his way forward up the backside. Oh Well landed on the lead just before a :55.4 half, at which point stablemate Air Power angled out of fourth and began advancing uncovered through the final turn.

Driver Mattias Melander kept Air Power steady as he easily put a head in front of Oh Well to three-quarters in 1:23.3, but he drifted off the bottom turn as Oh Well reasserted at the inside. Oh Well dug in at the pylons in the last eighth until Air Power straightened and strode away to a 1-1/4 length victory with Little Expensive snagging third from Celebrity Bambino in fourth.

“He makes you confident,” Mattias Melander said of the Muscle Hill colt, who easily won on his comeback in the elimination with a 1:52 effort. “He raced super last week and that’s what I was hoping for this week as well. I know my horse goes all the way to the finish line. He has shown me every time I race him he has serious speed.”

Once top rank on the road to the Hambletonian before throwing a shoe in the Stanley Dancer and dealing with soreness to a 10th-place finish in his elimination, Air Power rebounded to collect his fifth victory from 11 starts and add to his bankroll now worth $318,747. Marcus Melander trains the winning Muscle Hill colt for owners AMG Stable Inc., Rick Wahlstedt, Kenneth Kjellgren and Heights Stable. He paid $4.20 to win.

Val D'Or Farms' Newsroom made yet another headline in the $150,000 New Jersey Classic Series final for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, coasting to a 1:49.4 lifetime best win — his fifth in as many starts to date.

Usual driver David Miller floated Newsroom forward from post five and kept him in the two-path through the first turn while outside rivals Wish You Well (Brian Sears) and Caviart Justice (Dexter Dunn) circled to the fore to control a :27 first quarter. Miller refused a four-hole tuck with the Always B Miki colt and instead hit the accelerator upon reaching the backstretch, but they had to work to clear Wish You Well at the end of a :54 half.

"He got stretched pretty good there and he still felt good around the last turn," said Miller.

With five-sixteenths to go, Miller gave Newsroom a couple taps of the whip and they began to edge clear of Wish You Well at three-quarters in 1:22.1. Newsroom asserted more earnestly in the final eighth and was driven clear to a 5-3/4-length win. Wish You Well was a no-match second and Caviart Justice narrowly protected third from Avellino (Andy McCarthy), who emerged belatedly out of traffic.

"I asked him through the stretch and he went on," continued Miller. "I never pulled his plugs, but I was on him. I think if a horse was at him, he'd have gone a little more."

After reeling off all his wins at The Big M, can the Joe Holloway trainee make the jump to the Grand Circuit?

"I think he can," said Miller. "He's gone some big miles here. I think he's a versatile horse, too. I'm pretty high on him."

Newsroom increased his career bankroll to $115,775. He paid $2.20 to win.

Miller, Holloway and Val D'Or Farms also captured the $150,000 New Jersey Classic Series final for rookie pacing fillies, partnering with Blue Pacific for a narrow 1:50.3 win over Tarrific.

Making just her second lifetime start, the Sweet Lou filly sat patiently in mid-field off contested early fractions of :27.2 and :55 before circling a breaking Odds On Steno at race's mid-point to inherit fifth behind 9-5 favourite Pulp Fiction (Todd McCarthy) entering the far turn. Still six lengths off the lead past three-quarters in 1:22.2, Miller angled Blue Pacific four-wide in upper stretch as Tarrific (Dexter Dunn) pulled the pocket to engulf Pulp Fiction at the eighth pole. Tarrific's push to the fore was just outdone by Blue Pacific, who surged down the grandstand side to nab Tarrific by a neck. Miraculous Deo (Brian Sears) emerged to take third.

Following a pair of winning qualifiers at Gaitway Farm in June, Blue Pacific's early development was briefly derailed, but her 1:50.3 maiden-breaking win — which upped her earnings to $73,050 — confirmed Miller's early assessments of the filly.

"Her first two baby races, I couldn't say enough good things about her," said Miller. "Then she got off and missed time, but she's a real nice filly. I told Joe [Holloway] when we qualified her back that the fillies she was beating in the baby races ended up being nice horses."

Blue Pacific paid $8.60 to win.

Eternal Lee pulled off a 9-1 surprise in the $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility Series for open mare trotters also featured on Friday. Andy McCarthy handled the four-year-old daughter of Southwind Frank perfectly, sitting a pocket trip behind 1-5 favourite Raised By Lindy, who came up a head short in a mile that went in 1:51.4.

The look of the race changed in a big way when 2022 Hambletonian Oaks champion – and 3-1 second choice – Fashion Schooner went off stride before the start, effectively reducing the field to four.

Eternal Lee, a Chris Ryder trainee who is owned by Murray Ferguson Jr., won for the 12th time from 34 lifetime starts while lifting her earnings to $494,882. She returned $21 to win.

 For an abbreviated meeting that some aren’t even aware is taking place, betting has certainly been big at The Big M.

After last Friday’s (Sept. 1) total wager of $2.97 million represented a 71 per cent increase over the corresponding Friday from the year before, wagering this Friday topped the $3-million mark, which was an uptick of 33 per cent over a year ago, after $3,055,341 was put in play.

There have now been 66 programs conducted at The Big M during 2023, and on 50 occasions, betting has busted the $3-million barrier.

Tim Tetrick led the driver colony with three winners. Dave Miller, Andy McCarthy, Scott Zeron and Dexter Dunn all won two apiece. Joe Holloway and Lucas Wallin both trained a pair to victory lane.

Racing resumes on Saturday at 6:20 p.m. featuring the New Jersey Classic Series finals for three-year-old pacers and marks the final harness racing card at The Meadowlands until Oct. 20. Live Thoroughbred turf racing will take place at The Big M while the harness action is on hiatus.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)

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