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Open Mares Deliver A Thriller At Big M

Published: April 25, 2015 12:26 am ET

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For the past two weeks, Inittowinafortune has chased Radar Contact from the pocket and each time she came up short. That changed Friday night at Meadowlands Racetrack as the five-year-old mare earned a hard-fought victory by a flared nostril in the featured $27,500 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap.

Inittowinafortune was released as the 4-1 third choice behind Radar Contact (3-5) and Rocklamation (2-1).

Radar Contact was sent immediately to the lead from her assigned outside post and she remained on the point through strong fractions of :26.2, :54 and 1:22.1 before turning for home with Inittowinafortune right on her tail. As the Open mares straightened away, Corey Callahan guided Inittowinafortune to the outside and mounted a bid for the lead. Callahan’s mare put a head in front in mid-stretch, but Radar Contact dug back in and the two talented mares paced all the way to the wire together. Only a nose separated the pair, with Inittowinafortune earning a well-deserved victory over Radar Contact. Rocklamation was three lengths back in third in the 1:50.2 mile.

Inittowinafortune is trained by Michael Russo for owner Michael Pagonas.

Whom Shall I Fear was the easiest of winners again Friday night at The Meadowlands, as he coasted to a dominant wire-to-wire performance in his division of the Spring Preview for the three-year-old trotters.

It appeared as though the $475,000 yearling never took a deep breath as he coasted to a 1:54.4 triumph. The brother of Father Patrick, controlled the tempo through fractions of :28.4, :58 and 1:26.2 while never facing a challenge. Whom Shall I Fear is trained by Jimmy Takter for the Whom Shall I Fear Stable.

For the second consecutive week, social media went abuzz as Whom Shall I Fear crossed the finish line Friday night. Many were asking the question as to if this is the three-year-old colt to watch leading up to the Hambletonian and if this is the horse that can push filly Mission Brief?

The most interesting aspect of that question is that Yannick Gingras drives both horses.

Muscle Network, the 2013 Valley Victory champion, made his four-year-old debut a winning one, by taking a condition trotting event in 1:54.3.

The Tony O’Sullivan trainee was last early in the mile and was allowed to find his stride through fractions of :28 and :56.4 before being guided to the outside by Dave Miller. Muscle Network found a live outer flow where he positioned himself third over and followed cover past three-quarters in 1:25 where he set up his late rally as the field turned for home. From there, the classy four-year-old closed in on Quick Deal and reeled him in just before the wire to earn the comeback victory.

Muscle Network is staked well, including the TVG Trotting Championship, and the upcoming Graduate Series, which begins one month from now at Tioga Downs. He is owned by Frank Bellino & Sons LLC.

Stacia Hanover also returned a winner in a condition event for filly and mare pacers.

The 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion was relegated to last early in the mile through rather tepid fractions of :28.2 and :57.1. Shortly past the half-mile pole, Stacia Hanover was guided outside and tracked live cover from a third over position where she remained past three-quarters in 1:26.1. From there, Scott Zeron showed his filly racetrack and she responded, rallying home well to score in 1:55 over an equally fast-closing Strut My Stuff. American Truth saw her three-race win streak come to an end, cutting the mile and finishing third.

Stacia Hanover is trained by Steve Elliot for David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio.

In amateur racing news, Hannah Miller continues to ride her amazing hot streak. Miller won the first race on the evening, the French-American Friendship Amateur event with Jacks To Open. Her record this season now stands at six wins from 21 starts, with 12 of those 21 races resulting in an in-the-money finish. For her career, Miller has won 15 of 41 starts.

The other amateur event went to Mr Ridgetaker and Alan Charles, who took the field wire-to-wire.

Both Jackpot Super Hi-5 wagers saw their carryovers continue. The fifth race carryover has grown to $91,918, while the last race carryover now stands at $62,450.

Total handle for the 13-race program of $2,649,116 was an eight per cent increase over the same Friday one year ago.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)

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