A quartet of stakes topped by the $523,000 William R. Haughton Memorial provided a thrilling finish to the 2011 Meadowlands Racetrack harness meet on Saturday
Alexie Mattosie overcame a grueling first over trip to win the Haughton at odds of 8-1. Doug McNair and Aracache Hanover parked Alexie Mattosie through blistering fractions of :53, and 1:20.1 before fading late in the stretch. With that rival finally finished, Alexie Mattosie gamely pulled ahead of the second over We Will See and held off late charges by Foiled Again and Won The West for the victory in 1:48.1. He paid $18.40.
"It's not what I envisioned at all," driver George Brennan said of his winning trip. "When Doug made the lead, Jody [Jamieson and Hypnotic Blue Chip] had stung him pretty good, but Doug's horse was pretty revved up. There was never a chance of him letting me go. We rolled along pretty good.
"I knew I was going to go by Doug [in the stretch]," he continued, "but I had We Will See on my back and he headed me. I was just hoping to be second and he just dug in. It was an incredible effort. Going into the race, I really did think I had a good chance to win the race, but certainly not with that kind of trip. The horse was just great tonight."
The Haughton was a perfect bookend to the meet for Alexie Mattosie, who captured the first stakes event of the year, the Presidential, in January. The son of No Pan Intended has won seven of 21 starts this season for trainer Nik Drennan and owners Donald Lindsey of Fergus, Ont., Paul Kleinpaste of Orangeville, Ont., Dennis Mavrin of Woodbridge, Ont., and Portland Meadows General Manager William Alempijevic of Portland, Oregon. Alexie Mattosie's career bankroll now exceeds $825,000.
The rich undercard featured the $235,750 Golden Girls for pacing mares and the $317,800 Woodrow Wilson and $363,900 Sweetheart for two-year-old pacers.
Dreamfair Eternal gave 2011 leading driver Brian Sears one of two stakes wins on the card in the Golden Girls. The seven-year-old mare followed up her triumph in the Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day with a decisive 1:50 score. Trained by Patrick Fletcher and owned by John Lamers of Ingersoll, Ont., Dreamfair Eternal improved her record to six wins in 10 starts this season. The daughter of Camluck's career earnings now total $2.2 million.
"With the trip she had tonight, she really fired home," Sears said. "She raced super. She's definitely on her game right now."
Major Bombay capitalized on a three-hole trip to win the Wilson final, the first of Sears' stakes wins, in 1:51.3. The son of Art Major-Armbro Bombay improved his record to two wins in five career starts for trainer Tony Alagna. The colt is owned by Aaron Waxman of Burlington, Ont., Louis Willinger of Louisville, Kentucky, John Fodera of Staten Island, New York and the Major Bombay Partners of Fort Lee, New Jersey.
"I knew he had some good kick late if we got lucky enough to get some room," Sears said. "He's all racehorse and Tony's done a great job with him. He's had a good year and I appreciate the drive on him."
Pirouette Hanover gamely fought back after a lengthy stretch duel with Handsoffmycookie to win the Sweetheart for pacing fillies in a stakes record 1:51.3. Driven by Ron Pierce, Pirouette Hanover posted her third win in six career starts. Ed Hart trains the daughter of Western Ideal-Paula's Best for owner New York's Jeff Snyder.
"I was thinking I gave her a good enough breather to where she would be able to hold [Handsoffmycookie] off," Pierce noted. "We hit the lane and Pirouette just wanted to watch the race on the tote board. She was running out just a little bit, more than usual. She was looking at something and I wasn't sure what it was. Then the other filly went by her and she was able to see her and remember that she was in a horse race. She dug back in and just got her nose up."
For results from Saturday's harness racing card, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Meadowlands Racetrack.
(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)