A star studded cast of characters invaded the Meadowlands on Saturday evening as the track hosted the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial and the opening leg of the Graduate Series.
Cruzado Dela Noche survived an overland journey to capture the $175,200 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for the team of driver Brian Sears and trainer Marcus Melander.
I Know My Chip led the group to the quarter pole in :26.3 before Trolley swept up on the outside and grabbed the lead in the backstretch. He went on to lead them to the half in :56.3 and then the three-quarter marker in 1:26.1. Cruzado Dela Noche, who was parked throughout the contest, dug down deep and had just enough to rally to the half-length score over Trolley in 2:07.3. Will Take Charge came on strong to finish third.
“I was pretty confident,” said Sears. “I wasn’t concerned that it was his first start since November since he hadn’t raced in three or four months before the International Trot.
“This horse has raced in Europe all his life,” added Sears. “So he’s good with the distance. He’s got enough stamina to put himself in play and we were never really used that hard. He’s easy on himself.”
Let go at odds of 8-1 in the rich tilt, Cruzado Dela Noche won for the 16th time in his career while pushing his lifetime earnings to $1,301,872 with the win. The seven-year-old son of Muscle Massive-Alidade is owned by Courant AB of Stockholm, Sweden.
Courtly Choice was a determined winner in his $50,000 Graduate Series division for driver David Miller and trainer Blake MacIntosh.
The gritty son of Art Major-Lady Ashlee Ann, who was making his four-year-old debut, watched Done Well lead the field through fractions of :26.1 and :54.1 before Courtly Choice went into attack mode. They sparred past the three-quarter pole in 1:21.3 before Courtly Choice wore him down and drew clear in deep stretch to win in 2:01.4. Done Well was a game runner-up, with Always A Prince taking home third prize.
Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe and Touchstone Farms Inc share ownership on the 13-time winner who became harness racing’s newest millionaire with the victory.
Lather Up pulled off the mild upset for driver Montrell Teague and trainer Clyde Francis in his $50,000 division of the Graduate Series.
Sent off at odds of 5-1, Lather Up shot to the lead from Post 7 and had the field chasing him to the quarter pole in :25.3. He gave way to race favourite This Is The Plan in the backstretch, and that foe hit the half in :53.2. Dorsoduro Hanover was the next one to enjoy a stint on the lead, as he buzzed the field by the three-quarter pole in 1:21.3. The Downtown Bus, who was parked throughout, worked his way to the lead at the head of the lane, but Lather Up shook loose late and stormed home to win by a neck over Lyons Steel in 2:02.4. The Downtown Bus was third.
It was a sharp 2019 debut for the four-year-old son of Im Gorgeous-Pocket Comb who is now a 16-time winner in his career. The winner in excess of $1.1 million is a homebred owned by Gary and Barbara Iles of Harrington, DE.
Donttellmeagain was a popular winner in the $30,000 Preferred Pace for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Jim King, Jr.
Tetrick blasted to the lead in the backstretch with the 3-5 favourite, and once he cleared he sailed through middle splits of :55.1 and 1:22.4. A :26.1 closing panel sealed the deal for Donttellmeagain who defeated Sunfire Blue Chip in 1:49. Sweet Rock rounded out the Trifecta ticket.
The five-year-old son of Dragon Again-Donttellmewhattodo, who is owned by Paton Racing Stables Inc of Doylestown, PA, won for the 19th time in his career while pushing his lifetime earnings to just shy of $660,000.
(With quotes from Meadowlands)
To view results for Saturday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Saturday Results – Meadowlands.