Uncle Peter, making his final North American start before heading to Europe to race in the Elitlopp, was sent off as the 4-5 favourite, coupled with stablemate Not Afraid, and he did not disappoint.
Despite being taken off the pace in Friday's $30,000 A-2/Free For All Handicap Trot at The Meadowlands, Uncle Peter was allowed to settle behind quick fractions of :26.2 and :54.4 as Daylon Magician and Sevruga took turns on the lead. Sevruga stole a :29.2 third quarter and turned for home with the lead, with world champion Arch Madness breathing down his neck, racing first over.
At this point, Uncle Peter moved himself into perfect striking position, drafting behind Arch Madness, while Daylon Magician found himself locked in behind horses. In the stretch, Uncle Peter fanned out three-wide and began to reel in the leaders, as Sweet Justice, even further out, was finishing with a flourish. On the wire, it was Uncle Peter getting up by a half-length in 1:52.1 over a game Sevruga with Sweet Justice right behind in third.
The first six trotters were separated by just two lengths, with Quick Deal the only exception, breaking before the start.
The win was number 10,999 in the Hall of Fame career of Dave Miller.
Uncle Peter is trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Christina Takter, Brixton Medical Ab, Ontario's John and Jim Fielding, and Goran Falk.
Live racing on Derby weekend at The Meadowlands began before the pari-mutuel program with the $36,016 John Simpson Memorial for three-year-old filly pacers. The Grand Circuit stake drew just four entrants and launched the Friday card as a non-betting affair at 6:50 p.m.
Despite the light turnout, the four fillies were well matched and each had a significant role to play in the contesting of the race itself. The early pace was surprisingly spirited with the Ron Burke-trained pair aggressively driven away from the gate. JK Molly sent for the front by Dave Miller and stablemate Surfside Sexy, unable to find refuge, was forced to press on for Yannick Gingras resulting in a :26.1 opener.
Once clear, Gingras slowed the pace through a :59.2 middle half before encountering Rockingcam Park and Tim Tetrick on the final bend. In the sprint for home, Rockingcam Park put Surfside Sexy away then had to contend with a late rally from Ken Doll J and Corey Callahan to hang on by an inch for the 1:53.2 win.
Rockingcam Park Stable, Alberta's Blair and Erna Corbeil and J And T Silva Stables share ownership of the Rocknroll Hanover filly and Ronnie Coyne is her trainer.
On the overnight side, the sixth race was a $22,500 B-1/A-2 class for the fast pacing mares and Scandalous Hanover found the charmed circle for the first time this year in her fifth start. Dave Miller moved her first over as Art Ideal led the field by the half in :55 flat, wore that one down, then held off several closers for the 1:51 win. Shine N Shimmer rallied up the rail to be second and Marty Party took the show dough.
West Winds Stable and Adriano Sorella, both of Ontario, share ownership of the gritty Dragon Again mare and Casie Colemen is her trainer.
Including the Simpson non-betting event, Tetrick won five races on the program, Gingras scored three times while Dave Miller and John Campbell had a pair of victories.
Racing resumes on Saturday with a 13-race program featuring a $47,253 division of the John Simpson Memorial for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. The race includes five Meadowlands Pace-eligible contenders, including 9-5 morning line favourite JK Endofanera and 2-1 second-choice Allstar Partner.
The Meadowlands will open doors for simulcasting at 9:30 a.m. for the special Kentucky Derby simulcast, with the first race simulcast from Churchill Downs at 10:30 a.m. Kentucky Derby post time is scheduled for 6:24 p.m. Qualifiers will begin at 9:45 a.m. Saturday's Kentucky Derby festivities are all day long and include a T-Shirt Giveaway, a $39.95 Victory Derby Buffet, Victory Terrace opening at 12 p.m., a Derby Handicapping Seminar at Victory Sports Bar featuring the cast of the show "Horseplayers," where the Kentucky Derby can be seen in high-definition on the massive 12 by 20 foot high-definition screens. There is also a $500 Derby Hat Contest and a Million Dollar Ball Drop.
Live harness racing begins at 7:15 p.m. Victory Nightclub will open its doors at 10 p.m. for its "Victory De Mayo" party, featuring music by renowned disc-jockey D.J. Sinatra and will broadcast the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana pay-per-view boxing extravaganza. For more details, visit playmeadowlands.com and to reserve table-service at Victory Nightclub, e-mail [email protected].
(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)