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Stars Out In Meadowlands Qualifiers

Published: May 27, 2017 7:45 pm ET

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The Meadowlands Racetrack hosted a pre-card qualifying session on Saturday evening (May 27) featuring a handful of stars that could be major contenders in stakes action this season.

Following an easy 1:58.1 qualifying win at Vernon Downs on May 19 for trainer/co-owner Paul Kelley, Dan Patch Award-winning older trotter Obrigado primed for his return to the races with 1:54.1 mile at The Meadowlands.

Reunited with his regular reinsman Mark MacDonald, Obrigado followed in the pocket throughout panels of :28.1, :57.3 and 1:27 before kicking home in :27.1 to collar three-year-old colt Shake It Off Lindy at the wire. Grand Circuit stakes-winning sophomores Overdraft Volo, International Moni and Princess Aurora followed.

“We missed the Cutler and will be missing the Maxie Lee with him, but that was by design,” Kelley told Harness Racing Communications this week. “We were taking our time with him and would have had to rush him to get him ready. It wasn’t that he needed extra time as he came back looking great and looks great now. In fact, he seems like he’s more than ready to get himself back in the game, but it’s a long year and last year he seemed to get a little tired in the fall, although he did come back and win the TVG final.

“What also helped was that other race being added in Massachusetts at Plainridge that gave us one more thing to point towards a bit later on so we can take our time with him and pick and choose our spots. We are bringing him to Scioto again for the Charlie Hill on June 10, and I am really looking forward to racing him again this year. He seems ready to go and as good as ever.”

Sophomore trotting filly Thats All Moni, who was a runner-up in her pari-mutuel season's debut in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes action two weeks ago at The Meadows, turned in a 1:55.2 qualifying win during the evening session with her final quarter in :27.2. Tim Tetrick drove the Cantab Hall-Moms Millionaire miss for trainer Jimmy Takter.

The Takter-trained O'Brien and Dan Patch Award-winning pacing filly Idyllic Beach closed out a 1:51.4 qualifying victory with a :26.4 final frame. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere and Idyllic won her sophomore season's debut in the May 11 PASS leg at Harrah's Philadelphia.

North America Cup eligible Air Strike converted off a pocket trip behind Chip Walther to win his fourth qualifying start this year -- and first since mid-April -- in 1:52.1 with :26.2 closing speed. David Miller drove the Always A Virgin-My Best Girl colt for trainer Joe Holloway. The debuting Very Special Agent finished second ahead of Chip Walther.

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