The Worldly Beauty Series for the pacing fillies and mares continued on Friday at The Meadowlands and a premier match-up of first round winners took center stage in the second division, as Witch Dali, the 1-5 favourite, and Donttellruss, the 2-1 second choice, hooked up in a preview of the final.
Witch Dali went right to the lead, setting a rapid pace of :27.2, :55.1 and 1:22.3 with Donttellruss and Yannick Gingras racing right off Tim Tetrick's helmet throughout the mile. The two favourites would separate themselves from the field from that point onward and kicked home together, with Donttellruss pulling the pocket in the stretch and wearing down a game Witch Dali.
It was Witch Dali's first defeat since returning to the races and snapped a five-race win streak. For Donttellruss, she is a perfect three-for-three to start her four-year-old campaign. Ron Burke trains the mare for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Karr and Baldachino.
The first division did not include a round one winner and thus it was very competitive on paper. Hex was sent off as the 7-5 favourite for owner/driver Dave Miller off a fourth-place finish the week before, but that filly went off stride while racing well off the pace into the far turn.
Frame Worthy established the early pace and cut the mile through fractions of :27.3, :55.4 and 1:23.2. But 8-5 second choice, Empress Deo, was riding a perfect pocket trip every step of the mile and that mare pounced on the leader while holding off a late rally from Safe From Terror to score in 1:53.2, a new lifetime mark.
Empress Deo was driven by Brett Miller for trainer Wayne Givens and owner Legacy Racing Of De Inc.
The $25,000 B-1/A-1 Handicap Trot featured a similar cast of characters to the past few weeks. Coming off a win, Lindys Tru Grit looked like the horse to beat, but it was actually Appomattox, who was sent off as the 7-5 favourite Friday night.
Lindys Tru Grit left hard from the outside post hitting the quarter in :27.4, before yielding to the pocket behind favoured Appomattox, who proceeded to dictate terms through fractions of :55.3 and 1:24. Turning for home, Appomattox was clinging to the lead, but was feeling pressure from Mistery Woman and Team Six, who was rallying off cover down the center of the track. Lindys Tru Grit was looking for racing room in the stretch. He found it, but Team Six had the jump on him and scored a massive 50-1 upset over Lindys Tru Grit with Appomattox saving the show. Mistery Woman was in contention racing first over in the stretch, but broke stride when she put a nose in front inside the eighth pole.
Team Six was driven to victory by Marcus Miller for Erv Miller and owners Peggy Hood, Mystical Marker Farms LLC, Paymaq Racing and Jorgen Jahre Jr.
Both 20-cent Jackpot Super Hi-5 wagers will carry over into the Saturday program. The fifth race carryover stands at $22,146, while the last race carryover is now $47,620.
Racing resumes Saturday, with first post time at 7:15 p.m. The Saturday program features the second round of the Escort Series with a pair of divisions.