Oakwood Ardan IR Continues North American Win Streak

Oakwood Ardan IR winning at The Meadowlands
Published: February 25, 2024 12:28 am EST

Facing his toughest test yet, the incredible Oakwood Ardan IR passed with flying colours once again, registering his sixth win in as many starts since shipping in from Great Britain last September in the Saturday night feature at The Meadowlands.

The Robert Cleary-trained Irish-bred set foot for the first time on North American soil last fall and qualified a winner at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Nov. 28 in 1:56.4.

His first pari-mutuel start came at The Big M on Dec. 16 and the five-year-old gelded son of Sweet Lou-Trend Setter hit the ground running – or pacing, if you prefer – scoring from off the pace in 1:50.4.

Saturday night, bumping up in class to a high-end conditioned level where he would have to face foes older than five for the first time, Oakwood Ardan IR chalked up his sixth straight Big M score in the $24,324 event.

“He’s not bad,” said Cleary with a grin. “He does what he likes to do. Chase down horses.”

Sent to the gate for a fifth straight outing as an odds-on favourite, driver Andy McCarthy had Oakwood Ardan IR sitting off the action in fifth early as longshot Ever Hoping A led at the quarter in :28.4 before 2-1 second choice American Dealer N grabbed control at the half in :57. At that moment, McCarthy asked for speed and got it, as Oakwood Ardan IR moved to the outside and quickly sprinted up to challenge the leader, and was just a head behind that foe at three-quarters in 1:25.3. Oakwood Ardan IR then had little trouble through the stretch, easing to the lead before polishing off a safe half-length score in 1:52.3 using a :27 final quarter to keep American Dealer N at bay. Captain Cowboy was third.

“I didn’t think he’d be this good,” said Cleary. “But after I trained him, I knew he was a pretty talented horse. He’s got real high speed. His biggest asset is, whoever is in front of him, he wants to run them down. We’re just going to take care of him and go week to week, step by step and protect our horse.

“What makes me happiest is that the owners are the best people in the world. They love watching their horse on a Saturday night and are the most loyal people in the business who are the nicest to deal with. They deserve a horse like this.”

Oakwood Ardan IR, who has now won 15 of 34 lifetime outings, is owned by Royal Wire Products Inc.

As the 3-5 public choice, he returned $3.20 to win.

McCarthy finished the night with five winners on the 14-race card, becoming only the second driver to turn the trick in 2024. Jason Bartlett was the other, winning five races on the Jan. 19 program.

Crissy Crissman-Bier and Jeff Cullipher led the trainers with two wins apiece.

Betting stayed brisk as all-source handle totalled $3,218,328, giving The Big M nine consecutive programs when wagering has gone past the $3 million mark. Overall, total action has been over $3 million on 13 of 15 programs this year.

Racing resumes on Friday at 6:20 p.m.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)

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