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Mission Brief Wins Sophomore Debut

Published: May 15, 2015 11:47 pm ET

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Mission Brief returned to the races where we expect to see her, in the Winner's Circle. The fastest two-year-old trotter of all time made short work of her New Jersey Sire Stakes competition in the lone $25,000 division for the sophomore filly trotters, winning in 1:53.4.

The world champion took off the speed early in the mile, but made a controlled move to the lead and cleared before the half-mile pole through fractions of :27.3 and :56.2. She led the field past three-quarters in 1:25.3 and turned for home with a two-length lead. Mission Brief drifted a touch in the stretch, but finished the mile well within herself while never being asked by her driver Yannick Gingras.

It is worth noting that shortly after the finish, Mission Brief appeared to bobble and went off-stride, but she remained on-stride until the teletimer stopped.

Her driver Yannick Gingras was pleased with her effort.

“She had a ton of trot,” said Gingras. “She went in 1:53.4 and it was a walk in the park for her. We still have some work to do before the second Saturday in August, but she is on the right track.”

Mission Brief became the fastest two-year-old trotter of all time when she romped to a 1:50.3 performance at The Red Mile last year. She is conditioned by Ron Burke and owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J & T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi. With the victory, Mission Brief’s career earnings surpassed $600,000.

On the colt side of the Sire Stakes action, Guess Whos Back put forth a performance worth of his name, with a dominant 1:54 score in the first of two divisions for the three-year-old trotting colts.

Sent off as the slight favourite over Canepa Hanover (both were 4-5), Guess Whos Back settled off the speed through the first quarter of a mile, before making a power move to the lead down the backstretch for Brian Sears. The Muscles Yankee colt cleared the top with ease, hitting the half-mile in just :58.1. He faced no pressure from that point of the mile all the way to the wire, sailing past three-quarters in 1:27, before leveling out in the stretch and drawing clear to a convincing 1:54 triumph.

As a two-year-old, Guess Whos Back won the New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship at The Meadowlands en route to earning $92,350 for trainer Nikolas Drennan.

Drennan expressed delight with how his Hambletonian hopeful performed.

“Overall I was very happy with him,” said Drennan. “It looked like he got a little steppy on the first turn, so we may make a few small changes going forward. But I was happy with him.”

Guess Whos Back sent his earnings past $100,000 with the winner's share of $20,000 purse. He is owned by Joseph Davino, Brad Shackman, T L P Stable and J&T Silva Stables.

The other division for the sophomore colts pitted an intriguing match-up of Muscle Diamond and French Laundry. That pair finished second and third, respectively, in the Breeders Crown last year.

Muscle Diamond was sent off as the 4-5 favourite with French Laundry the 3-2 second choice. The latter established the lead early on and took the Sire Stakes field through fractions of :28, :57.3 and 1:26.2. Muscle Diamond sat along the pylons in third, tracking the early speed and was guided off the pylons in the stretch and showed dramatic acceleration. However, nearing the wire, Muscle Diamond lost his momentum while getting a little steppy, seemingly because he was trotting so fast in the stretch and French Laundry was able to hold on for the win in 1:53.1. Both colts were very impressive in their three-year-old debuts.

French Laundry added to his lifetime earnings, which now stand at $328,104 for Jimmy Takter. Brett Miller drove the talented colt for Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Al Libfield and Marvin Katz.

There were some new faces that comprised the talented field in the $30,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace, but the result was one that we have come to know well.

Radar Contact, who has not been worse than second since February 6, was the 6-5 favourite and she dictated the terms after wrestling the lead away from Inittowinafortune, who reached the opening quarter in a sharp :26.2. From there, Radar Contact cleared the lead and reached the half-mile in :55.2 with Inittowinafortune close behind in the pocket, a scenario we have seen week in and week out at The Meadowlands. These two mares remained that way through three-quarters in 1:23.1 and the two sprinted away from the field, but this time Inittowinafortune was able to chase down Radar Contact to score in 1:49.4, a lifetime-best effort. Radar Contact was a clear second with Jerseylicious third.

The winner was one of two on the card for trainer Michael Russo, who conditioned the mare for Michael Pagonas. Scott Zeron was in the sulky.

The fifth race Jackpot Super Hi-5 went unclaimed and the jackpot swelled to $118,474 for the Saturday program. The last race Jackpot Super Hi-5 also carried over again, with that carryover pool now standing at $91,803.

Total handle for the 12-race Friday card was $2,773,591. That marked a 15 percent increase from the same day in 2014 despite one less race. The on-track handle yielded a 20 percent gain as well.

Saturday night features the $183,650 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, where Bee A Magician will attempt to become the first mare in the 17-year history of the race to emerge victorious. Also on the program is New Jersey Sire Stakes action for the three-year-old pacers, both colts and fillies. Last year’s two-year-old pacing champion Artspeak, the top-ranked contender for the 2015 Pepsi North America Cup, will headline one of two divisions for the colts and geldings. There is a $50,000 TVG Invitational on the program as well. Post time for the Saturday program is 7:15 p.m.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)


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