The Meadowlands seven-program September “mini meet” comes to an end this weekend (Sept. 16-17) with the New Jersey Classic (NJC) serving as the featured event.
Last Friday (Sept. 9), two “A”-level three-year-old trotting finals – one for fillies and one for colts and geldings – gave notice to horsepeople and owners that New Jersey-sired horses have plenty of opportunity to make some serious green.
The filly division winner was the Jim Campbell-trained Fashion Schooner while emerging victorious in the split for males was Nancy Takter’s Pretender.
"Those two standouts are great examples of why The Garden State is the place to breed, own and race horses, since they both not only won their respective NJC finals that went for $275,000, but each also won their $240,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes divisional finals earlier in the year," said Meadowlands host Dave Little.
Fashion Schooner – one in a loaded division that includes Joviality S and Jiggy Jog S – also won the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
There were also a pair of “B”-level finals for three-year-old trotters – one for fillies and one for colts and geldings – that went for $100,000 each on the Friday card.
This Friday (Sept. 16), there will be more big money on the line, with eight NJC finals for horses of both “A” and “B” caliber going for purses totalling $1.2 million.
Two of those “A” dashes stand out from the rest, both sporting purses of $275,000.
The two-year-old filly trot stars Grand Fashion, who is the 2-1 morning line choice from post four for Campbell off a pair of second-place finishes in the Kindergarten Series, while the two-year-old colt and gelding trot features Marcus Melander’s Oh Well, the New Jersey Sire Stakes champion who will start out at 5-2 from post three.
PROLIFIC PAYOFFS: Last weekend, many patrons were making scores at The Big M.
On Friday’s card, the 20-cent Pick-5 returned $7,144.62 while the Late 50-cent Pick-4 (Races 10-13) came back $2,832.60. The 12th race Trifecta paid $5,128.60 after Dave Miller guided 24-1 shot Gotta Get Crackin to a wire-to-wire win.
Saturday’s large returns included the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, which paid $2,428, while the 14th and final race saw the 10-cent Hi-5 return $21,718.29 after Joe Bongiorno drove Magnolia Volo to a wire-to-wire score at odds of 26-1.
A double carryover of just over $21,000 led to $71,498 in “new money” bet into the 20-cent Pick-6 pool Saturday for a grand total of $92,717. Those who had all six winners had big smiles on their faces after cashing in for $7,612.80. The odds of the winning horses during the sequence were 7-2, 3-2, 7-1, 9-2, 7-2 and 3-1.
WEAR ORANGE ON FRIDAY: You’ll see something different when they come onto the track for the second race Friday night: All of the horses will be done up in orange equipment and the drivers will be wearing orange arm bands to support a harness racing family.
September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and longtime horseman Doug Dilloian Jr.’s daughter, Kensley, who turns two in December, is battling a form of Leukemia. On Friday, everyone in the harness racing community will be throwing its support behind the Dilloians as they brace for the tough challenge that lies ahead.
THE RUNNERS ARE COMING: While harness racing at The Big M takes a six-week break, fans can come out to the track to watch and wager on some exciting Thoroughbred action as Monmouth Park conducts turf racing at The Meadowlands.
Turf action will be conducted on a Friday-Saturday basis starting Sept. 23 through Oct. 22, with one exception, as there will be no live racing on Oct. 15. Post time is 7 p.m.
HARNESS RACING RETURNS IN NOVEMBER: Harness racing will be dark at The Big M from Sept. 18 through Nov. 3. The Meadowlands will then return with live harness action on Nov. 4 and quickly rev up the stakes machine.
On Nov. 12, four Kindergarten finals will highlight the card with total purses estimated at $1 million.
Two weeks later, U.S. divisional honours and quite possibly U.S. Horse of the Year will be decided on “Fall Final Four/TVG Finals Night,” with eight races that will be contested for purses estimated at $2.65 million.
(With files from The Meadowlands)