For the hottest driver in harness racing, it didn’t matter that he was unfamiliar with his horse in the featured $36,000 high-end conditioned trot at The Meadowlands Friday night, he just did what he usually does – win.
Dexter Dunn got behind Dunbar Hall for the first time ever and the duo managed to gun down 3-5 favourite JL Cruze in deep stretch as the seven-year-old gelded son of Deweycheatumnhowe-Debbie Hall recorded his second straight score after stopping the clock in 1:52.4.
“I knew I was going to be in the mix,” said Dunn. “I hadn’t raced the horse before but he did explode off a helmet last week. I got a pretty good drag into it.”
It didn’t look good for the new team of Dunbar and Dunn as JL Cruze ranged up to grab the top just after the quarter and settled in on the point before hitting the half in an unpressured :55.2.
Dunbar Hall was sixth in the seven-horse field (after avoiding early breaker Gotwuteverittakes in the early going) down the backside before picking up cover from Deltasun A just after the half. When Deltasun A began to weaken on the far turn, Dunn moved his horse three-wide for the drive to the wire.
“I didn’t know my horse that well. I went three wide before the straight,” said Dunn. “I was told by Rico [Robinson, who works for winning trainer Jeff Cullipher] before the race he’s better when he comes off cover, so getting away sixth wasn’t too bad a spot.”
Dunbar Hall chipped away at JL Cruze’s edge through the stretch and was clear by three-quarters-of-a-length at the wire. Double Account rallied well to just miss getting the place spot.
“I knew the stretch was going to be a battle, but in the back of my head, the way he ran home last week, he flew home, so I was hoping he had enough trot left.”
As the 9-5 second choice, Dunbar Hall returned $5.80 to his backers in upping his lifetime numbers to 28 wins from 107 starts and earnings of $479,348 for owners Pollack Racing and Cullipher.
Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. with a huge card, as eight high-powered stakes events will be in the spotlight on Fall Final Four/TVG Finals Night. Purses for the stakes events total $2.6 million.