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JL Cruze Defeats Father Patrick Again

Published: June 19, 2015 11:51 pm ET

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The third leg of the Graduate Series for trotters pitted a rematch of JL Cruze vs. Father Patrick, this time for $100,000.

Fresh off the upset two weeks ago that sent shockwaves throughout the sport, JL Cruze was given more respect at the windows Friday night, sent off as the 9-5 second choice. Father Patrick was given the nod as the favourite, despite the narrow loss last-out and post 10 tonight, released as the 1-2 choice.

JL Cruze floated off the gate, while Father Patrick did the same, watching many trotters vying for early position to his inside. Around the first turn, JL Cruze sat mid-pack in fifth, with Father Patrick right behind him. The early lead belonged to Gural Hanover, who reached the quarter in :26.4. As the field straightened up on the backstretch, JL Cruze launched his bid for the lead, with Father Patrick hot on his heels and the pair ranged up into contention as JL Cruze cleared the lead going to the half-mile in a sharp :54.1.

Father Patrick was left uncovered briefly, but he asserted himself rather quickly and made the lead as the field moved into the far turn. His pilot, Yannick Gingras, let 'Patrick' roll to three-quarters in 1:22.3, while Sumatra was challenging first over. JL Cruze was locked in the pocket for much of the stretch as Father Patrick reached for the line. But inside the final eighth of a mile, the pylons opened up for JL Cruze and John Campbell guided his trotter through the narrow opening where he sprinted to the wire to defeat Father Patrick in a lifetime-best 1:50.4. That clocking also equalled the fastest trotting mile of the season thus far. Resolve rallied to be third from well back.

Owned by W. Kenneth Wood, William J. Dittmar Jr. and Stephen J. Iaquinta, JL Cruze cost just $32,000 at the Harrisburg Mixed Sale in November and has now earned $233,638 this season. Driver John Campbell spoke to how the horse has developed.

“Back in February, we knew he was good, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted this," he said. "But he kept getting stronger as time went on and I knew he could trot with these, but I wasn’t sure he could win. But he just keeps getting better.”

Amazingly, trainer Eric Ell reported that JL Cruze kicked his stall the morning of the second round of the Graduate and he considered scratching the horse. Not only did he race, but he defeated Father Patrick, a feat he accomplished again tonight.

The $250,000 Graduate Trot Final will be contested on Meadowlands Pace elimination night, Saturday, July 11.

The third leg for the Graduate pacers was also contested Friday night at The Meadowlands for $100,000. An overloaded field of 12 went to the post and because of the two trailers, the race was contested at 1-1/8 miles.

Rockeyed Optimist, a winner of nine of 10 starts this season was sent off as the odds-on favourite, while Doo Wop Hanover, a winner of the first rounds of the Graduate series was let go at 7-2. Both four-year-olds are trained by Steve Elliott.

The early speed came from the inside as Limelight Beach and Lyonssomewhere blasted to the front, but Rockeyed Optimist was aggressive from his outside post and he would grind into it early on and made the lead past the quarter of :27.1. In the meantime, Doo Wop Hanover never saw the pylons and was allowed to settle into his stride uncovered while racing nearly 10 lengths off the lead as Rockeyed Optimist sprinted past the half-mile in :53.4. At that point, Doo Wop Hanover began to a launch a steady bid for the lead while leading the outer flow, tracked by All Bets Off.

Rockeyed Optimist completed three-quarters in 1:22.1 as Doo Wop Hanover continued to close in. As the field straightened away in the stretch, the two Elliott trainees were side by side and they put on a show, pacing through the stretch together, leaving the field behind. Doo Wop Hanover, despite being uncovered throughout the nine furlongs, was able to wear down his stable mate and score a win in a world record clocking for one mile and one eighth, winning in 2:02.3, eclipsing the previous mark of 2:03.1, established by Noble Ability in 1999. All Bets Off checked in third.

Doo Wop Hanover was sent out by owners Peter Blood and Rick Berks.

Campbell swept The Graduate events Friday night and was extremely impressed with the performance of Doo Wop Hanover.

“He went a huge trip, but he wasn’t working that hard and that was the key," he said. "But we were out the whole way and he just kept coming.”

Both Elliot trainees are being pointed to the $250,000 Graduate Final on Friday, July 3.

In other action, Hot List made it back-to-back victories, both in the form of pylon-skimming drives as she won the $28,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace over Iniitowinafortune in a sharp 1:49.4. The win was another on the card for Campbell, who scored a hat trick on the program. The mare is trained by Arnold Marks.

The $26,000 Open Trot was won in wire-to-wire fashion by DWs NY Yank, who led at every pole to score in 1:52.1. Obrigado was locked in the pocket throughout the mile and appeared to have a ton of trot while finishing second. Trainer Ron Burke sent out the winner, who was driven by Yannick Gingras.

The $22,800 Cathedra Dot Com Final went to Next Flight Up in a 24-1 upset as she rallied down the center of the racetrack and chased down Oceans Motion, Real Drama and That Woman Hanover to score in 1:50.4 for Brett Miller and trainer Jeff Smith.

Both carryovers in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 lived to fight another day, with the fifth race carryover growing to $162,597 and the last race carryover swelling to $141,004.

Total handle for the Friday program yielded a 10 percent increase over the same night in 2014, despite one less race.

Racing resumes on Saturday with a 13-race program beginning at 7:15 P.M.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)

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