Bettors Edge Upsets In TVG Final

Published: November 21, 2015 08:17 pm EST

Meadowlands Racetrack hosted six Grand Circuit stakes on an action-packed Saturday night, which wrapped up with Bettors Edge pulling off an upset victory in the TVG Pacing Championship.

Bettors Edge Upsets TVG Pacing Championship

A field of six contested the $400,000 TVG Pacing Championship. Off the wings of the gate, five of the six Free-For-All pacers tried to leave for position. The only horse content to watch the action early was Bettors Edge. That strategy by Matt Kakaley turned out to be the winning one as Bettors Edge stormed down the center of the track, from dead last, to score a 19-1 upset in the TVG Pacing Championship.

The first horse to the lead was Mach It So, who took all the late-money being released as the 4-5 favourite. He used every ounce of his speed to clear the lead from the widest post in the field, reaching the opening quarter in a sharp :26.1. But the second choice in the wagering, JK Endofanera, was already on the move and he quickly challenged for the lead down the backstretch and cleared the front before the half-mile in 54 seconds. Meanwhile, Somewhere In L A was headstrong in the three-hole and Corey Callahan could not hold his gelding and was forced to commit first over. Foiled Again picked up the cover in the outer flow, while Bettors Edge inched closer into the third over position. JK Endofanera led past three-quarters in 1:22.2 while facing pressure from Somewhere In L A. As the field turned for home, the Free-For-All pacers spread across the track and all took their shots. Mach It So found room at the pylons, Foiled Again tried to kick off cover, JK Endofanera reached for the wire and Bettors Edge was rallying down the center of the track. In the end, Bettors Edge out-sprinted the talented field to win going away in 1:50. Mach It So rallied up the pylons for the runner-up spot while Foiled Again finished third.

Kakaley was pleased to finally get a trip for his six-year-old getting. “He really has had a lot of bad luck,” said Kakaley. “We have been trapped in a few times where he was finishing with pace, but we just had bad luck in those races. Tonight, they were mixing it up early and it really set up well for us. It worked out absolutely perfectly.”

Trainer Ron Burke confirmed that both Bettors Edge and Foiled Again will head to North Carolina for the winter and will return for the 2016 racing season. The win in the TVG Pacing Championship was the third stakes win on the night for Burke.

The win was the 26th in the career of Bettors Edge, sending his lifetime earnings over $1.8 million.

Divine Caroline Triumphant In Tarport Hap

An overflow field of 12 contested the $173,500 Tarport Hap at 1-1/8 miles on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. The race was hotly contested with no less than five lead changes from start to finish. The last lead change belonged to Divine Caroline, who took over in the shadow of the wire and scored the victory in 2:05.1 after the mile was paced in 1:50.1.

There was plenty of speed early, with Single Me launching from post 10 and reaching the first quarter in 26 seconds. From there, Rock Me Gently moved to the lead briefly, before Bettor N Better cleared the front past the half-mile in :54.4. Next to the lead was the 9-5 favourite Bedroomconfessions, who guided the field past three-quarters in 1:22.2. That move left Sassa Hanover uncovered first over with Divine Caroline stalking from a second over position. It took the length of the stretch, but Divine Caroline would use the long Meadowlands stretch to wear down Bedroomconfessions to earn the victory. Bettor N Better finished third.

The victory was the eighth on the season for the three-year-old daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven for trainer Joe Holloway, who was very pleased with the win.

“I think that wrapped up the division for her with this win,” said Holloway. “I thought she was in a good spot and it took her a while to get there, but she got it done.” Holloway confirmed that Divine Caroline would return to the racetrack in 2016 as a four-year-old.

Divine Caroline is owned by Val D’Or Farms, Ted Gewertz, Rojan Stables and M.A. Ouriel. Her seasonal earnings conclude at $751,421.

More Late Season Success For Boston Red Rocks

Going into the Breeders Crown final, Boston Red Rocks wasn’t on anyone's radar in terms of the two-year-old pacing championship. It is safe to say that over the past month, that has changed.

Sent off as the even-money favourite in the $413,000 Governor's Cup, Boston Red Rocks was allowed to settle mid-pack while elimination winner Big Top Hanover established the pace through an opening quarter in :27 seconds. When the field straightened away in the backstretch, driver Tim Tetrick popped the plugs and Boston Red Rocks unleashed his turn of foot and flew to the lead, reaching the half-mile in a sharp :55 seconds. The outer flow was slow to develop, but that didn’t prevent the race favourite from sprinting a :27.3 third quarter, with the 8-5 second choice Big Top Hanover on his back. Into the stretch, Boston Red Rocks got separation on the field and reached for the line, holding off the other elimination winner, Katies Rocker, to win in a lifetime-best 1:50.3.

The win was the fourth in nine starts for the two-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover.

Tim Tetrick has been impressed with the colt over his past few starts. “He doesn’t do his best work on the front end, it’s really not where he wants to be,” said Tetrick. “But, I knew I had to go forward off the gate. He really likes to chase horses though.” Looking ahead to next year, Tetrick said the upside is there. “He can shoot for the skies next year.”

Boston Red Rocks is trained by Steve Elliott for owners Peter Blood and Rick Berks.

Katies Rocker was second and Big Top Hanover held on to the show spot.

Resolve Impressive In TVG Trotting Championship

There have been a lot of questions regarding the older trotters and just who would assume command of the division. After Saturday night, Resolve answered all those questions and jumped to the head of the class, winning the $400,000 TVG Free For All Trotting Championship in 1:51.4 for Ake Svanstedt.

In similar fashion to his win in the final preliminary leg last week, Resolve moved to the lead shortly after the opening quarter, which was reached in 27 seconds by longshot DWs NY Yank. Once on the lead, Resolve was allowed to relax. The same could not be said for E L Titan, who got caught in some traffic down the backstretch and ended up three-wide trotting toward the half-mile. Tim Tetrick guided E L Titan to the first over position after racing three-wide, crossing in front of Obrigado with The Bank in the outer flow. But Resolve was able to back the field down with a :29.3 second quarter, reaching the half-mile in :56.3. E L Titan, in the final start of his career, was applying pressure, but Ake Svanstedt had plenty of horse in front of him and Resolve began to edge away, trotting past three-quarters in 1:25. The stretch drive was a mere formality as Resolve began to pour it on, winning by three lengths in the end, trotting a final quarter of :26.4 to complete the mile in 1:51.4.

“He’s a very good horse,” said owner/trainer Ake Svanstedt. “He is getting closer and closer to Sebastian K with every start. He is just a four-year-old beating the older horses, he should be really good next year.”

Obrigado held the runner-up position while Flanagan Memory rallied from last to be third.

The win was the fourth of the season for Resolve. He finishes his four-year-old campaign with earnings of $786,577 this season.

Resolve was trained and driven by Svanstedt for owner Hans Enggren.

Dead Heat In Valley Victory

They say there are few moments in sports that can rival the photo finish and the $489,400 Valley Victory final certainly was representative of that statement. In the end, the win photograph couldn’t decide a winner, because the noses of Dog Gone Lucky and Make Or Miss hit the wire together, a dead heat in the richest race of the night.

For Dog Gone Lucky, the win belonged to Chuck Sylvester, and for Make Or Miss, the story was his young pilot Joe Bongiorno. The irony, Sylvester was winning Hambletonians before Bongiorno was born and now they both set their eyes on harness racing’s greatest prize in 2016.

Dog Gone Lucky made an aggressive move to the lead, after Mavens Way made a break after a quarter in 27 seconds. In the meantime, Make Or Miss had nearly 10 lengths to make up, trotting in eighth position down the backstretch. Then, the outer flow began to develop as Taco Tuesday committed first over past the half in just 57 seconds, a 30-second second quarter. Marion Marauder picked up that cover and Make Or Miss tracked the pair on the far turn while Dog Gone Lucky reached three-quarters in 1:26. Dog Gone Lucky opened up a clear lead in the stretch after a 59-second middle half, but just as he did, Make Or Miss found his best stride and put that electric turn of foot on display as he began to reel in the favourite. However, the wire was also coming quickly and it came just as both noses hit the wire, a dead heat in 1:54.

Bongiorno was nearly speechless in the winner’s circle. “This is beyond amazing, I can’t believe it,” said Bongiorno. “I just want to thank all the connections for giving me the opportunity, this is the best moment in my life.”

Not to be out-done, trainer Chuck Sylvester reminded that he isn’t done yet. “I’m not retired yet,” Sylvester joked. “These horses will get a well deserved break and hopefully we’ll back [for the Hambletonian] next year."

The win was the first major stakes win for Bongiorno and the fifth win in the Valley Victory for Sylvester. It was the second victory for Make Or Miss, the son of Donato Hanover who now has earnings of over $223,000 while Dog Gone Lucky won for the seventh time and his fifth in a row, with his earnings now beyond a half-million dollars.

Make Or Miss is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, Weaver Bruscemi and Jerry and Theresa Silva. Dog Gone Lucky was driven by Corey Callahan for Sylvester and owners Amy Lynn Stoltzfus and Charles Stansley.

Mission Brief Makes A Statement

The buzz around the $144,000 Continentalvictory was centered around two fillies, Mission Brief and Wild Honey, hoping to earn divisional honours with a compelling performance. Mission Brief seized that opportunity and performed like a champion.

Sent off as the prohibitive 1-9 choice, Mission Brief was hustled to the lead early in the mile and it was a lead she would never relinquish.

Sprinting past a quarter in :27.4, Mission Brief kicked away from Wild Honey down the backstretch and Wild Honey felt whip taps from her driver John Campbell just to try to keep up. In the meantime, Mission Brief was trotting smoothly on the lead past the half-mile in 56 seconds and she began to open up on the field on the far turn, reaching three-quarters in 1:24.1 while leading the field by four lengths. From there, Mission Brief had the Meadowlands homestretch all to herself and she trotted a :27.2 final quarter under no urging to win the Continentalvictory in 1:51.3 in the final start of her season, a win that put Mission Brief past $1 million this season.

“She’s the best trotter in training,” exclaimed Gingras in a post-race interview. “No disrespect to any of the older trotters, but I wish she was in that race tonight. I don’t think any of them want any part of her.”

Ron Burke was beaming with pride in the winner’s circle as well. “She’s the best horse I’ve ever had,” said Burke. “Next year is going to be tough, she is going to face all the good ones and I am not going to duck anyone. We are going to find out if she is as good as we all think she is.”

With the win, Mission Brief concludes her season with 10 wins from 14 starts and earnings of $1,025,659. For her career, the star filly has 19 wins from 27 races and earnings over $1.6 million. She is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, Jerry and Theresa Silva and Weaver Bruscemi.

Wild Honey completed the exacta with Kelseys Keepsake and Lady Winona completing the field.

Longshot Horseplayer Qualifies For World Harness Handicapping Championship

It was worth sticking around for the last race for Wallington, New Jersey resident Joseph Bohnarczyk, whose $20 Win and $10 Place and Show Wager on Buckeye In Charge, at 39-1, launched him to a win in the World Harness Handicapping Championship Qualifier that took place on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. He earned a berth into the Championship event on April 30, 2016 at The Meadowlands and took home $1,764 in prize money in addition to his bankroll, which was over $1,100.

Total handle for the 14-race program was $2,941,258.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)