The stakes season at the Meadowlands kicked into high gear with the first weekend of racing in July on Friday night where three division of sophomore trotters competed in the Grand Circuit Reynolds Stakes.
Trotting fillies opened the card, as both ends of the Daily Double were Reynolds Stakes in excess of $27,000 each. Ma Chere Hall (sired by Deweycheatumnhowe) took a new record of 1:52.4 in the first. Corey Callahan rated her first over and wore down True Day Dream in the final strides of the :28-second closing quarter. Jonas Czernyson trains the 2012 Kindergarten final winner for Walnut Hall Limited, Aldebaran Park Inc and Joe Sbrocco.
Last year's U.S. division leader To Dream On has had a less than auspicious beginning to her three-year-old season, but the Credit Winner filly flashed her old form in the second Reynolds split to win in 1:54. Yannick Gingras had a clue that she would be improved and made it known via a pre-race tweet, citing an improved workout. He put her on the lead early through an easy :58.4 half then sprinted home in :55.1/:27.1 to hold Mistery Woman at bay. Jimmy Takter trains To Dream On for the Ontario partnership of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband.
Race 11 was the $50,278 Reynolds Stake. A select group of five trotters, all with Hambletonian aspirations took to the track. In the end it was a replay of last week as Spider Blue Chip and Dave Miller turned back Creatine to score in 1:52.3. The winner is owned by David McDuffee and Ottawa's Melvin Hartman and trained by Chuck Sylvester. Spider Blue Chip is eligible to the Stanley Dancer Memorial, a key Hambletonian prep race next Saturday.
Spaced around the Grand Circuit stakes were four divisions of New Jersey Sires Stakes for freshman trotters. The fillies went off the card with Ravine (sired by Muscle Hill) a winner for Mike Lachance and trainer Bobby Stewart in 1:59.2. Diamond Creek Racing and J&T Silva Stables share ownership of the filly.
The second division, for a purse of $19,000, saw another from the first crop of Muscle Hill in the winner's circle. This was Pacific Winds K, a homebred from Bob Key who took a fast mark of 1:55.2 for Tim Tetrick. Paul Reid is the trainer.
Hill I Am was a repeat winner in the first of two $21,000 colt splits, an easy, forwardly placed 1:55.4 winner for Corey Callahan. This is a sharp looking homebred Muscle Hill colt, trained by Dennis A. Laterza for Roy Dobbins.
Division two resulted in a mild upset, with Sumatra tracking down the heavily favoured Southwind Spirit in a :28-second end to the 1:57 mile. Andy Miller drove the Muscles Yankee colt, who prevented a Muscle Hill sweep, and shares ownership with Black Horse Racing. Julie Miller trains.
The action at the betting windows picked up right where it left off in June, hot and heavy. The total handle for the 13-race program of $2,469,934 eclipsed the 2012 11-race program by 62 per cent. The live handle also showed gains of 36 per cent over last year’s program. The Meadowlands goes into its Meadowlands Pace Elimination program with 61 race days in the books, and all 61 showing double-digit increases in handle.
The heat goes up several notches tomorrow night at the Meadowlands with a single elimination for the Meadowlands Pace, two contentious fields of nine in the W.R. Haughton eliminations and the NJSS for freshman pacers. Post time is 7:15 p.m.
To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Meadowlands Racetrack.
(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)