The six week “Legends vs Phenoms” Meadowlands drivers’ tournament kicked off on Saturday, with the top point earner of each distinction awarded a $2,000 prize. Scott Zeron was the leader at every call for the Phenoms and had his bounty salted away by race 10.
The Legends, though fewer in number, were far more contentious in their competition. The Millers, Andy (who seemed to relish the opportunity to race a few on the lead with Yannick Gingras across the river all night) and David swapped the point lead back and forth several times and as they lined up for the 12th and final Dave’s lead was a tenuous five points.
Dave Miller put the favoured Pembroke Dewey on the lead and parked out Andy’s weak bid with Corey Road to unceremoniously close him out and take home the $2,000 top prize.
The competition will continue over the next several weeks with the final for the driver tournament schedule for Saturday, April 26. The drivers and points will be updated at PlayMeadowlands.com throughout the tournament.
On the equine front, two $20,000 divisions of the Clyde Hirt pacing series highlighted the card. One was rather formful while the other division resulted in a shocker.
In the first split, a pair of leavers from outside posts made for a lively pace with first Avatartist then Burkentine Hanover clearing to the front through a :27 quarter and :54.2 half. Alexas Jackpot took a bold run at 'Burkentine' past the 1:21.4 three panels and was moving like a winner as Dave Miller desperately sought a seam for Avatartist. Once that fissure appeared, Miller guided him through a tiny opening up the cones to win by the slimmest of margins (and survive an inquiry to his course in the stretch) over Alexas Jackpot in 1:50.1. Burkentine Hanover was a brave third.
That gives Avatartist wins in both legs and he’ll merit serious consideration in what shapes up to be a very competitive $83,000 final next Saturday night. Tony O’Sullivan trains the son of Rocknroll Hanover for William Hill, Peter Harrison, Mike Saftic and James Walker, all of Ontario.
Division two began largely as predicted with a couple of longshots battling away on the front and heavy favourite Wake Up Peter well situated second over around the final bend when he suddenly and unexpectedly went off stride. That left the long uncovered bid by Teresas Beach well rewarded with a new lifetime mark of 1:50.1 and his backers wallet’s a little fatter with a healthy $29.20 return on investment. Brees Creek was up for the place with a late rush and Stars Above landed third resulting in a trifecta payoff of over $4,000.
Brett Brittingham was in for the drive for trainer Johnny Waite and owner Leslie Betts, all of Delaware.
Also on the card was the $47,650 final of the Winter Survivor Series and Hacienda saved the day for his more highly regarded entry-mate Cane Ridge with a 1:51.2 score for Vinny Ginsburg.
Cane Ridge’s convincing win in the second prelim drew favouritism and Andy Miller sent him right to the front from the rail, the preferred position based his past performance. The fractions were fast but fair, however, when the competition began to engulf the pacesetter on all sides, trainer Doug Dilloian, Jr.'s focus shifted from the tiring leader to his “other” horse Hacienda, who was closing the widest and the fastest. At the wire Hacienda prevailed in a tight photo over Mc Rusty with Malosi N third. Darius Oshidar owns the winner.
In addition, Tyler Smith earned his first career Meadowlands driving victory with Arsenal in the fourth race C-1 Pace.
The Meadowlands showed slight gains both on-track and in total handle for the Saturday program.
Racing resumes on Friday, with first post time at 7:15 p.m.