Driver Andy Miller drove patiently in Friday night’s feature at the Meadowlands, and when he asked Opulent Yankee for trot in the stretch, the Julie Miller trainee responded in a big way, taking the $20,000 Preferred Handicap in a season’s-best 1:52.4.
Coupled in the wagering due to common ownership (Jeff Gural’s Little E group owns a piece of both horses), Opulent Yankee and Gural Hanover were sent to the gate as the heavy 1-5 favourites. Gural Hanover settled on the lead at the quarter, with Opulent Yankee sitting the pocket and 2-1 second choice Meladys Monet racing in the three-hole.
In an abbreviated seven-horse field with the best three horses racing on the front end, there was no movement as Gural Hanover clicked off fractions of :27.4, :56.3 and 1:24.4.
Meladys Monet, racing at the Big M for the first time since April of last year, made the first move, tipping off the rail for the stretch drive while shifting into high gear. With an eighth of a mile to go, Andy Miller swung Opulent Yankee to the outside and easily went by a tired Gural Hanover to record a one-length win. Meladys Monet was second in what was a good-looking Meadowlands return. Gural Hanover held third.
The winner returned $2.60 to his backers and now has three victories this year in four tries for owners Little E LLC, Arthur Geiger and David Stolz. Lifetime, the seven-year-old gelded son of Muscles Yankee has won 21 of 85 starts and earned $411,295.
HISTORY MAKER: Seventy-four-year-old Terry Morgan guided 36-1 shot Master Of The Hill to victory lane in the third race, and by doing so, became the first driver in Meadowlands history to win a race in both 1976 (the track’s opening year) and 2018.
A LITTLE MORE: Prolific pools and payouts continued in the Big M’s popular multi-leg wagers. The 20-cent Survivor Pick 10 attracted $16,711 in action, and with one patron who was wagering in Canada ending up as the only seven-leg survivor, the payout was $18,447.56 after the conversion of American vs. Canadian funds. … The Pick-5 saw $48,126 in play and even though three favourites scored during the sequence, a handsome $4,429.35 was the return. … A total of $87,607 was poured into the Pick-4 pot, with the those holding winning tickets walking away with $4,131.05. … All-source wagering totalled $2,342,323. … Once again, the Late 20-cent Jackpot Super High Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, upping the carryover to $132,042. … Yannick Gingras drove four winners on the card after winning three last Saturday. All seven horses were the betting favourites. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:35 p.m.
(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)