For the first time since April 4, 2009 (other than Meadowlands Pace or Hambletonian Day cards), when a near seven-figure Pick 6 pool spurned a massive night, total handle at the Meadowlands eclipsed $4 million on Saturday night (March 1). The total handle on the night was $4,106,609, which was a 14-percent increase over the same program in 2013. This was the third highest handled program in the last 16 months along with the 14-race Meadowlands Pace card in 2013, which handled $4,311,545, and of course, Hambletonian Day 2013.
The Saturday night feature at The Meadowlands came early in the program as Racing Secretary Peter Koch chose race two to showcase the fastest pacers he's got to work with in the $30,000 A-1/Free For All Handicap. Dovuto Hanover scored a mild upset, employing a first-over grind to wear down the favored Golden Receiver to in 1:49.
The race attracted just six horses, a result most likely of the imposing presence of Golden Receiver, who returned to the wars last week in fine fashion. He would go postward as the public choice from the outside post which became the five with the late defection of Abelard Hanover.
Despite the short field the action was hot right from the word "go” as Panesthetic and Easy Again left hard for the pocket behind the fave with Easy Again emerging as the leader when the quarter time flashed up :26.Golden Receiver found himself in the unusual position of not making the front until well past the three eighths pole and cleared just before the half in a demanding :53.3. Corey Callahan tried to steal a breather around the bend and was able to rate a :28.3 third panel but Tim Tetrick used that tactic to the advantage of his mount and had Dovuto Hanover geared up and rolled alongside to engage the leader as they entered the stretch.
Dovuto Hanover eyeballed the veteran through the early stretch drive then edged clear late, widening to a two and a quarter length victory. Golden Receiver was his usual dead-game self and held the place with Easy Again third. The winner is trained by Darran Cassar for owner Martin Scharf and returned a $15.40 win mutual.
In the second leg of the Buddy Gilmour series for 2-year-old pacing males, the heavily favored Dinner At The Met had his way with eight overmatched foes. With both of last Saturday's leg one winners, Capital Account and National Debt, given the week off in anticipation of next week's $60,000 final, a single division was all that was required to accommodate a mere nine entrants.
Unraced at two, Dinner At The Met has quickly picked up the game and was winning for the fourth time in five outings. Corey Callahan picked up the drive for the listed Andy Miller who was absent for the card due to travel complications and the assignment was a simple one. Sent out for the lead from post six Dinner At The Met faced no opposition through very kind fractions then jetted home in :27.2 to close out the mile in 1:53. Recharge took the place and Rock Fame held third.
Trained and owned in part by Erv Miller along with Bert Hochsprung, the Metropolitan gelding will surely have to be dealt with next week in what shapes up to be an interesting contest. Next week, Dinner At The Met will square off with round one winners National Debt and Capital Account in a series finale with Meadowlands Pace implications.
Racing will resume on Thursday evening, with first post time of 7:15 P.M. Thursday features an 11-race program, including the first round of The Winter Survivor Series. (Meadowlands)