Not even an abbreviated nine-race card could stop driver Andy Miller from putting up a big number at The Meadowlands Thursday night, as the veteran reinsman won six times on the card.
Miller, 53, was fast out of the gate, taking the first race with 7-2 shot BNB for the other half of “Team Orange Crush”, wife Julie, who trained the four-year-old to a 1:53.4 score in a low-end conditioned fillies and mares pace.
“She’s a funny horse because she doesn’t like to go by horses,” said Andy. “She was trapped until late and I snuck by them. You have to trick her into winning.”
An impressive looking two-year-old gelded son of 2017 Meadowlands Pace winner Huntsville gave Miller a sweep of the Early Double as Hurrikane Jonnyboy, $2.40 to win as the 1-5 public choice, won his second lifetime outing even more impressively than his first, hitting the wire 2-3/4 lengths clear of the field in 1:52.1 in a pacing division of the Toys for Tots Series for males.
Trainer John McDermott has 2022 Meadowlands Pace thoughts dancing in his head.
“I think he’s got a big future,” said Miller. “He’s very green and doesn’t know what he’s doing yet. He has to keep developing. He could possibly be a Meadowlands Pace type of horse.”
After getting gunned down with 4-5 favourite Big Sweep Osborne in the third (as another Andy, McCarthy, guided 14-year-old Statesman N to victory lane), Miller got back on track in the fourth with 3-1 chance Scirocco Patrick in a low-end conditioned pace in 1:55 for trainer Mark Silva.
Miller’s fourth win came in the fifth after a three-hole trip led to a late explosion along the pylons to score with Thaneeya at 7-2 in 1:54.3 for trainer Lewis Nunes in a low-end conditioned pace for females.
“I’m not the biggest fan of the three-hole,” said Miller. “But a lot of people hate it, sometimes so much so that they over race their horses so they don’t end up in that spot after doing things they wouldn’t normally do because they don’t want the three-hole.”
For the fourth time on the card, Miller scored with a non-favourite as he guided 7-2 shot San Cristobal (trained by Julie) to a wire-to-wire win in 1:57.1 in the seventh in a division of the Toys for Tots for trotters to score for the fifth time on the night. The three-year-old gelded son of Chapter Seven paid $9.80 after going off at 7-2.
“We got lucky that Andy’s [McCarthy, driving 9-5 favourite Heartofgold Devie] horse made a break and I was able to control the race,” said Miller.
The man with the hot hands ran his gaudy victory total to a half-dozen in the eighth after a wire-to-wire score with the Joe Holloway-trained Superbly, an American Ideal two-year-old who won another Toys for Tots pacing split, this one restricted to fillies. For just the second time on the program, Miller won with a favourite, as the 3-2 shot returned $5.00 after finishing the mile in 1:52.3 to win for the first time from 12 career starts.
Miller’s attempt to win a seventh race came up just short in the finale, as he missed while charging home with 8-1 shot Hurrikanekingjames, coming up a head short to McCarthy and Saranac Blue Chip.
“I thought I had Vinny [Ginsburg, guiding 4-5 favourite Frontier Rollo] beat but I didn’t know if I could get by Andy Mac," said Miller. "I thought I was going to get up but missed by a whisker.”
All in all, a pretty good night.
“Things worked out pretty good tonight,” said Miller. “I thought I had a good line-up. One thing about The Meadowlands, anytime you get power there, you hope you can make the most if it. It’s a tough place to win, and when things go your way like tonight, it’s sure nice, because a lot of the time they don’t.”