Since her arrival from Yonkers Raceway in late November, Jody has done good work at The Meadowlands, and Friday night she won her second straight at the mile oval, taking the $20,000 feature, a TrackMaster 86.75 or less pace for fillies and mares.
A five-year-old daughter of Betterthancheddar-Topgun Lady, Jody now has two wins, a second and a fourth since crossing the George Washington Bridge, and proved versatile in her Friday win, scoring from off the pace after a speed score two weeks prior.
“It kind of worked out,” said winning driver Yannick Gingras. “I didn’t care [what trip we would go] either way. They went :53[.4] to the half, so that was pretty fast and we followed good cover. It’s cold out there, so that was a big mile.”
Despite the chilly sub-40 degree temperature and a track that the judges assigned a -1 variant due to gusting winds, Jody hit the wire clear of the field after following ideal second-over cover, scoring in a lifetime-best 1:50.4. It was 2-3/4 lengths back to a furious-closing Wahs Fire Bug N with Think Of Galaxies third.
The Ron Burke trainee now has 14 wins from 50 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $284,390. She paid $5.60 as the 9-5 favourite.
The Meadowlands celebrated the life of civil rights giant Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a pair of races named in his honour, and the winning drivers were from different ends of the lifetime experience spectrum, one from Gen-Z, and the other, a Baby Boomer.
In the second race, the Martin Luther King Remembrance Race, which featured African-American drivers, 18-year-old William Carter circled up three-wide at three-quarters off cover with Maddox Hanover on the way to a convincing six-length score in 1:53.4, a lifetime best for the 5-2 second choice.
“I saw they were moving pretty good to the half,” said Carter. “I tipped him and he got me home. It’s special to be a part [of the MLK races]. It gives us [African-American drivers] the opportunity to be on the big stage.”
The Together We Can Be The Dream Pace took place in the fourth and that dash featured half African-American drivers taking on half Meadowlands regulars, with 64-year-old Mark Sheridan completing a sweep for the African-American pilots, guiding Milady Denver A to victory lane by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:54 at odds of 13-1 by closing late off a contentious pace. Dave Miller, Scott Zeron and Yannick Gingras finished second through fourth with their horses, respectively.
“[Trainer Michael Annunziata] told me she pretty much has one move,” said Sheridan, “and that’s how it played out. It’s fun to drive in races like these, but it’s more fun when you have a little power.”
The African-American pilots will be on the track again Saturday, with again, one race exclusively for them and the other where they will try to defeat The Big M regulars for a second straight night.
Jessica Otten gave her followers plenty to smile about on the program, selecting eight winners on top, including Thndrfrmthethron N, who returned $10.20. She also tabbed the Early Pick-4, which came back $57.45, and the Early Daily Double, which returned $21.40. At one point, she had five winners in a row, spanning races sixth through 10.
Forrest upped his winning streak to four in the seventh race conditioned trot, one of three winners on the night for the team of Gingras and Burke, who paced the driver and trainer colonies, respectively.
All-source handle totalled $3,181,860 on the 14-race card. Thus far in 2023, betting has busted the $3-million barrier on all three Big M programs. During 2022, the $3-million plateau wasn’t reached until the 13th card of the year, on Feb. 26.
Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.