The Friday night card opened with a $30,000 A-1/Free For All Trot that showcased a very strong field of six with nearly $8 million in career earnings.
Last week's winner Ice Machine effectively reduced that number to five with an uncharacteristic break before the start. Yannick Gingras seized the opportunity to put Wishing Stone on the lead and put confirmed front-runner Sevruga in the pocket.
The fractions were honest; :27.1 and :55:3 to the half. The gallant Arch Madness was put into play past the half by Trond Smedshammer and pressed Wishing Stone through a :28.1 third panel with race favourite Guccio drafting behind.
In the stretch, trainer-driver Jimmy Takter confidently fanned Guccio off the cover and wore down a stubborn Wishing Stone by a measured length and a half in a career best 1:52.
Guccio, a contender in many of the top sophomore stakes a year ago, including falling just a neck short in the Hambletonian, has returned in impressive form for Takter. The son of Yankee Glide has always done his best trotting late in the mile and has discarded the trotting hopples this season.
The future looks bright for the partnership of Christina Takter, Brixton Medical, John and Jim Fielding and G.C. Falk, who share ownership of Guccio. He has the look of a horse born for the classics.
The first nine races were won by nine different drivers. That streak was stopped when John Campbell scored a natural hat-trick, winning races nine, 10 and 11. In the 11th race he scored a sharp wire-to-wire victory with Lexis Amigo in 1:52.4. That race was significant as it marked the return of Little Brown Fox, who earned over $940,000 last year. In his first start back, Little Brown Fox tired after moving first over and could manage only to be fourth.
It was another banner night at the betting windows as the total handle marked a 34 per cent increase from the same Friday in 2012. The 2013 program did have 13 races compared to 12 one year ago.
The winter meet wraps up Saturday night with first post time at 7:15 p.m.
To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Meadowlands Racetrack.