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Bushwacker Ships And Scores At Big M

Published: January 3, 2016 12:41 am ET

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Coming into the $25,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday night at The Meadowlands, Bushwacker’s Meadowlands resume was short and select.

He sported just seven starts at the East Rutherford, New Jersey oval, with five of the seven races coming in stakes events. While Bushwacker had never won at The Meadowlands, he is stakes-placed in races like The Graduate and New Jersey Classic. On Saturday night, he found The Big M winner’s circle.

Getting plenty of support at the betting windows, Bushwacker, the 8-5 favourite at post time, led at the first point of call, a :26.1 quarter, before yielding to the pocket behind the brushing Kingofthejungle. Bushwacker sat the pocket past the half-mile in :53.3 and three-quarters in 1:22.3 as Kingofthejungle blazed the way. In the stretch, Bushwacker found a seam up the pylons and powered through to the lead. Doctor Butch, off a three month layoff, rallied boldly down the center of the track, but Bushwacker was long gone and he would score in 1:50.1. Ontario Success was even off cover, finishing third.

Winning driver Corey Callahan said in a pre-race interview that Bushwacker, “hits a knee at Dover and should like the bigger track.” He was right, as Bushwacker won for the 13th time in his career, lifting his earnings to $367,612. Bushwacker is trained by Chris Ryder for Henderson Farms.

Bettorthanyou, who is January Mixed Sale-bound on the 18th of the month, scored in the $17,500 upper-level condition pacing event.

Released as the 7-2 second-choice in the wagering, Bettorthanyou assumed command early in the mile and was well-rated throughout, putting up fractions of :28.1, :56.3 and 1:24.2 before sprinting home in 27 seconds to score the victory for Yannick Gingras. Sunfire Blue Chip, 3-2 choice, was locked in the pocket for much of the stretch as Gingras made sure to keep his gelding glued to the pylons and didn’t have clear sailing until the shadow of the wire. Mr Franklin, who went a tough first over trip, held on gamely to finish third.

Bettorthanyou is HIP #200 in the January Mixed Sale, presented by Tattersalls at The Meadowlands Racetrack on Monday, January 18. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.

The win was the 13th in the career of Bettorthanyou, whose lifetime earnings went past $350,000.

John Campbell closed out his 2015 season with a five-win night at The Meadowlands, the last of which pushed Campbell past $5 million (U.S.) on the year. He opened his 2016 season in similar fashion, winning four races on the Saturday program, including a 27-1 upset with Mudslide.

Campbell has now won nine of his last 27 races at The Meadowlands. If you had wagered $2 on Campbell in each of those races, your total investment of $54 would have realized a return of $260.80, an Return On Investment of just shy of $10 for every $2 wagered.

On the heels of the most successful season of his young career, Joe Bongiorno began 2016 much like he ended 2015, winning races at The Meadowlands. He scored a driving triple on the card, including the 14-horse race at 1-1/8 miles.

The 2015 season saw Bongiorno win 192 races for earnings of $1,973,758. Both career highs for the 22-year-old reinsman. His Meadowlands numbers included 46 wins and earnings of $659,784, the highlight of which was the dead-heat victory in the Valley Victory Final with Make Or Miss.

The 15-race Saturday card at The Meadowlands produced a total handle of $3,775,943, an increase of $1,178,455 over the 13-race card on this same night in 2015, or 45 percent. The per-race handle of $251,729 was a 26 percent increase over the $199,806 per-race handle on this night in 2015.

In addition, on-track handle nearly doubled, increasing 95 percent from $209,066 to $407,897, and the per-race on-track handle increased 69 percent as well.

The total handle of $3,775,943 was the third highest-handling program since the Breeders Crown of 2014, trailing only Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian Day of 2015.

Friday racing returns on January 8, with post time returning to 7 p.m. The Meadowlands racing schedule returns to each Friday and Saturday through Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 6.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)

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