Boston Red Rocks may have been given a bit of a scare at the wire, but ended a trend of high-profile beaten favourites on Saturday night (May 21) at The Meadowlands, scoring in his 2016 debut in a $25,000 division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers.
The Steve Elliott trainee, who is pointing toward the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace, was permitted to set tepid fractions of :28, :56.2 and 1:24.1 while unchallenged. Ideal Rocky, last year's NJSS freshman champion who sat the pocket throughout, stayed with the 1-9 favourite and sprinted home during the final sixteenth to come up just a head short of pulling off the upset. Katies Rocker was third.
Boston Red Rocks went the mile in a lifetime-best equalling 1:50.3 with Tim Tetrick in the bike and paid $2.20 to win. The 2015 Dan Patch divisional champion is owned by Peter Blood and Rick Berks.
Earlier on the card, chalk players took few big punches to the chin.
Maestro Blue Chip stayed perfect in 10 starts this season, winning a $50,000 division of the Graduate Series for four-year-old trotters in a lifetime-best 1:51.3.
Pinkman, the 2015 Hambletonian champion who was upset a week ago in his first start of the year, tasted defeat for a second straight outing as the 3-5 public choice. Like last week, Pinkman had a clear lead at three-quarters, but could not maintain his advantage to the wire, settling for third as Crescent Fashion closed to get the place spot, one and a half lengths behind the winner.
Facing by far the stiffest task he’s had this year, Maestro Blue Chip was sent off at odds of 30-1 and returned $63.20 to his backers. David Miller drove the JoAnn Looney-King trainee for owner Richard Poillucci.
Miller also drove Crazshana to victory in another $50,000 Graduate trotting division, prevailing over Canepa Hanover and Honor And Serve, with the popular pacesetter Wings Of Royalty settling for fourth-place in the four-across finish.
Crazshana was looped early by the even-money favourite and then came through along the pylons to take a new mark of 1:51.3 in his return to the races after a two-month layoff for trainer Jeffrey Bamond Jr. and the Bamond Racing stable. The Crazed gelding paid $17.20 to win.
In a $75,000 division of the Graduate for four-year-old pacers, another favourite went down as Confederation Cup winner Rockin Ron lost for the first time in 11 starts this year, coming up a half-length short to Artistic Major, who scored for the team of Elliott and Tetrick in 1:48.1, a lifetime-best clocking that matched the North American season's record.
After grabbing the early lead, 1-5 shot Rockin Ron was shuffled back after several lead changes and had to overcome a three-hole trip. As Artistic Major was tipping off cover and storming home to victory, Rockin Ron was desperately seeking room to race and did not find a clear path until the sixteenth pole. He had explosive pace from there to get second. Split The House was third.
Artistic Major returned $20.40 to win. He is owned by Elliott, David Van Dusen, Michael Cimaglio, and Gunjan Patel.
Sophomore pacing fillies also faced off on Saturday in a $25,000 division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes, which was won by the favoured Blue Moon Stride ($3.20). Making the second start of her three-year-old campaign, Blue Moon Stride took a new mark of 1:51.3, winning by three and a quarter lengths over Rocknroll Vision and Jk Fannie. Andrew McCarthy drove the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover, who was the New Jersey Sire Stakes filly champion at two, for trainer Mark Harder and owners Emilio and Maria Rosati.
The 12th race 20-cent Jackpot Super High Five once again did not have a single-ticket winner, meaning that the carryover for the next program has now swelled to $231,017.66. All-source wagering on the card totalled $2,778,867.
(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)