The stars of the 2022 stakes season have begun to emerge from their winter hibernation and appear at The Meadowlands' qualifiers. The qualifiers on Saturday (April 15) got underway on a perfect day with clear skies and a slight helping wind in the stretch with temperatures in the mid-70's °F / mid-20's °C.
Trainer Jim Campbell relived the best day of his life (kind of) by shipping his Hambletonian and Hambo Oaks winners from last year in to go their first mile over the Meadowlands' oval this morning.
Hambletonian winner Cool Papa Bell was a easy 1:55, home in :26.4, winner for his Hambo team of trainer Jim Campbell and driver Todd McCarthy. "Cool Papa" was not a "one trick pony" at three, as he also won the New York Sire Stakes final and was very competitive in the Breeders Crown and Kentucky Futurity while earning over $900,000 last year and garnering divisional honours for owner Scott Farber as his nom de course Runthetablestables.
Fashion Schooner (Tim Tetrick) cut the mile through slow early numbers then sprinted home in a :26.3 end to the 1:55.3 mile and looked good doing it. Jules Siegel bred and owns Fashion Schooner under his Fashion Farms banner. Gigi Hanover actually cut into the winner's margin with a good late rally for Ake Svanstedt.
The day got underway with an eye-catching performance by the sophomore colt trotter Tactical Approach (Josert Fonseca), who won back in 1:54.3 after a 1:53.4 qualifier a week ago. The Tactical Landing colt is trained in the Nancy Takter stable for Robert Leblanc, John Fielding, Joe Sbrocco and JAF Racing.
A tight group of four-year-old pacing mares gathered for race seven and Niki Hill was an impressive 1:52 winner out of the pocket in her second qualifier. Dexter Dunn sat her in behind Dont Fence Me In through slow fractions, then ripped past that one under no encouragement from the driver in the fast :25.4 final stanza. Boudoir Hanover (T. McCarthy) flashed good late foot to rally up for second.
Six fast sophomore colt pacers teed it up with Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ Fulton (Dunn) edging Voukefalas (Jordan Stratton) and Tip Top Cat (David Miller) in a long uncovered move, closing in :25.4 to win in 1:52.3. Linda Toscano trains the winner for Let It Ride Stables and Bottom Line Racing.
Toscano came right back with Its My Show (Scott Zeron) zipping past his only three rivals in the stretch with relative ease to win in 1:50, the last quarter showing :26.3 on the timer. Its My Show, despite facing top company at two, is still a maiden for owner/breeders Richard & Joanne Young.
The last race featured an accomplished field of four-year-olds pacers and All About The Hunt (D. Miller) went along on a loose lead throughout and held safe over the late rally of I Did It Myway (A. McCarthy) in 1:50.2. The winner is trained in the Ron Burke stable for owners Crawford Farms Racing and Heather Marshall.
Live racing continues tonight at The Meadowlands at 6:20 p.m. Free programs are available at the Meadowlands website.