The Meadowlands Racetrack will add Thursday night to the live racing schedule beginning this week (January 8). The first Thursday card of the year will feature the kick-off to the annual winter late closers, the Super Bowl for lightly seasoned three and four-year-old trotters.
Leg 1 drew a healthy 37 entries which were split into four divisions. Each division will race for $12,500, with the $50,000 final on January 24 the ultimate target.
Division 1 has been slated as the first race on the card and it offers a look at two of the top prospects competing in the series. Royal Ice hasn’t raced much for owner Marc Goldberg and trainer/driver Trond Smedshammer, but bought himself a ticket to the 2014 Hambletonian with his stunning 1:51.3 maiden-breaking win last summer. He’ll face JL Cruze, a three-time winner including an impressive ‘Big M’ debut last week for Delaware connections that bought him last fall at Harrisburg. Eric Ell trains and John Campbell will drive.
Propulsion has blossomed late for trainer Tony Alagna, who likely hoping the Super Bowl will serve as a launching pad for the regally-bred son of Muscle Hill to go on to bigger and better things for owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, Sam Goldband, Joe Sbrocco and Little E LLC. A three-time winner last season, Propulsion set his 1:52.3 mark in Lexington last fall and scored in an overnight at the Meadowlands a month ago. He’ll begin from Post 1 in the second division (Race 2) for driver Tim Tetrick.
Opulent Yankee is the logical choice in Division 3 (Race 4) off his recent form. A Red Mile 1:51.4 winner last fall, Opulent Yankee has a win and a second in his last pair of starts at the Meadowlands and will begin from Post 2 on Thursday for owner Little E, LLC. Andy and Julie Miller are the driver and trainer, respectively.
The fourth division (Race 7) is a pari-mutuel puzzler, and there is no greater mystery than Nick Salenetri’s unraced four-year-old Two Hip Dip. Off just a pair of qualifiers, Two Hip Dip gives the impression that he may have been worth the wait with his most recent a solid 1:59.1 win for driver David Miller, who is listed for Thursday’s race.
Speaking of pari-mutuels, the eight per cent take-out Hi 5 wager is proving to be the ‘it’ bet now, and the Meadowlands presents a pair of those opportunities nightly. The fifth race on Thursday will dispatch a bulky field of a dozen ‘C-2’ trotters going the route distance of a mile and one eighth. The jackpot carryover for the wager is at $10,645.
The last race will see 10 pacers off and the jackpot amount in that Hi 5 carryover pool is over $28,000.
First-race post time for Thursday is 7:15 p.m.