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Berry's Creek Elims, Classic Series Contested

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Published: May 2, 2009 10:59 pm ET

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River Shark stamped himself the one to beat in the $230,000 Berry's Creek as he wired the field in his elimination race Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

The top five finishers in each of the evening's two $25,000 eliminations will meet in the Berry's Creek Final on Saturday, May 9. Elimination winners earned the right to select their post positions in the final, which is the first major stakes test for three-year-old pacers.

River Shark coasted through splits of :27.2, :57 and 1:24.3, and held off the late flying Western Posse (Tim Tetrick) for a 3/4-length tally in 1:51.3. Drop Red (George Brennan) rallied along the cones to finish a length behind in third. Anniewesterncard (Ron Pierce) and Pair A Dice (John Campbell) also advanced to the Berry's Creek Final.

"I wanted to go easy with him and it worked out," said winning driver Daniel Dube. "I just waited until a horse came up next to him and then went with him. He just does everything right."

River Shark extended his winning streak to four races. His accomplishments include a sweep of the Robert J. Suslow Series earlier this month at the Meadowlands. The son of Four Starzzz Shark-Riverview Diamond was a $9,000 yearling purchase at the Lexington Selected Sale. Trainer Dave Sabatelli shares ownerships of the colt with Aaron Waxman, Carmine Fusco and VIP Internet Stable, which acquired an ownership interest in the horse earlier this week.

"VIP Stable made a call last week and asked if we were interested in selling a piece of the horse and we were," Sabatelli noted. "We're happy to have the guys on board. It's a nice way for them to get started tonight.

"He doesn't do a whole lot of training in the week," he continued. "We give him a pretty easy schedule. I think Danny [Dube], Carmine [Fusco] and myself will sit down and talk about it; posts two or three I think is something we will all agree on. It's going to be a wide-open affair."

Hypnotic Blue Chip slipped through an opening on the pylons to win the second Berry's Creek elimination in 1:51.2.

Driver Tim Tetrick and Hypnotic Blue Chip angled out past the quarter, but Sheer Desire and Brian Sears came three-wide and outgunned them to the top in a swift :55.2 half. Sheer Desire led the charge into the stretch until a game Arctic Warrior (David Miller) circled up to his wheel. But Tetrick and Hypnotic Blue Chip burst through in time to stop Arctic Warrior by a neck. Vertigo Hanover (Campbell) shook loose from the rail to finish third. Also advancing to the Berry's Creek Final were Lisagain (Andy Miller) and Vertical Horizon (Pierce).

"[Sheer Desire] was just coming so fast," Tetrick said of the early tussle for the lead. "I just felt like I was out, but my horse is a little slow getting into gear. Brian's horse was coming at a million miles, so we were both going for the same spot.
"He's a very nice horse; he's very handy and well taught," Tetrick continued. "I think there are nine other ones to beat, too, not just River Shark. It will be an interesting race."

Hypnotic Blue Chip, trained by Mark Harder, has won five of eight starts this season, including a sweep of the Junior Trendsetter Series in February. Harder shares ownership of the son of Art Major-Atraceofmagic with Deena Rachel Frost, Stable 45, and Robert Murphy.

To see how the North America Cup eligibles who participated in the Berry's Creek elims are ranked in Trot Magazine's 2009 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book, click here.

The Classic Series for older horses also continued Saturday night, this time with pacers in the spotlight.

Winbak Speed crushed the competition with an impressive 1:49.2 score in the $85,000 Pacing Classic.

Driver Ron Pierce and Winbak Speed were parked out early and had to forge ahead and assume command from Won The West (Brennan) before the half. They rebuffed a sustained challenge from Riggins (David Miller) on the final turn, and pulled away to a 2 3/4-length victory. Frog Juice (Tetrick) rallied three-wide to finish second, while Won The West held on for third.

Winbak Speed posted his seventh win in 13 starts and surpassed $200,000 for the season. Lifetime, he is 27 for 103 with a bankroll of just under $600,000. The six-year-old son of Village Jove was an astute $30,000 claim by Delaware-based trainer Wayne Givens in January 2008 at Dover Downs. The pacer was originally a $15,000 SUNY Morrisville yearling purchase.

Earlier in the evening, Martha Maxine motored to victory in the $85,000 Classic Distaff for mares.

Martha Maxine came first up to tangle with the leader Darlins Delight (Yannick Gingras) entering the final turn and briefly gained the advantage before Southwind Tempo (Tetrick) closed in. The two locked up in a vicious duel down the stretch, with Martha Maxine prevailing by a neck in 1:50.1.

"She was pretty relaxed down the backstretch, so I just waited," Andy Miller said, "but they weren't going any fractions at all. I let her pace up to the leader [Darlins Delight] around the last turn. She's pretty iron tough. She gets a little aggressive here and there and it catches up to her once in a while, but she doesn't do it much. She can pace so fast and she's so powerful. She's right up there with the best of them."

Martha Maxine, trained by Erv Miller, improved her record to five wins in 10 starts this season. She kicked off the season with a sweep of the Cape & Cutter Series at the Meadowlands and wired the field in the first leg of the Classic Series at Dover Downs. Lifetime, the five-year-old Park Place mare has won 20 of 40 starts and nearly $450,000 for Erv Miller and co-owners Tony Alagna and Brittany Farms.

In regular racing action, Maltese Artist returned home a winner yet again in the $31,500 Invitational Pace. The veteran son of Artiscape scored his third straight win in the top pace and fifth of the year for trainer and co-owner Ron Burke.

Dragon Island (Andy Miller) left hard from the outside and the 20-1 longshot carved out all the panels while Maltese Artist and Brian Sears, who got away fifth, followed All Shuttle’s cover and eventually angled three-wide at the third check in point. The 4-5 favourite then sprinted home in :26.2 to capture the victory and stop the clock in 1:49.4.

All Shuttle (David Miller) finished a length and a half back in second. Shark Gesture (Tetrick) came on for third but was placed back to seventh after causing interference to All Shuttle and Palone Ranger (Pierce) in the stretch. Dragon Island inherited third-place.

James Koran of Macedonia, Ohio also owns the double millionaire, who scored his 49th lifetime win tonight.

To view Saturday’s results, click here.

(With files from NJSEA)


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