The Meadowlands qualifiers on Saturday got underway on a fast track at 60 degrees under skies clearing from an overnight fog with minimal wind.
Trotting fillies started the day and the fastest freshman trotter ever, Cooler Schooner, made her seasonal debut for John Campbell. She appeared composed as she set easy fractions then tacked a :27.2 quarter on the end of a mile in 1:56. Lady Suffolk division winner Fastdownthehill impressed, following the winner around the track, then making a mild gain into the fast final panel on her own for Jim Marshall III.
Race 2--same group, same time--with My Inspiration from the Trond Smedshammer barn with Yannick Gingras aboard, winning from just off the fractions in 1:56/:28 over Moonlight In Miami.
Green Hornut won the third event for trotting colts with Gingras steering his namesake to the first successful mile of his career in 1:55.4 and the colt looked good doing it. The royally bred Muscerene, by Muscle Hill-Queen Serene, unraced at two, looked terrific for Trond Smedshammer while closing to be second.
Father Patrick made his second qualifying start in the next race and he looked great. He sat comfortably behind Well Built through moderate numbers before stepping off under his own power through a :27.4 final quarter, mile in 1:53 for Gingras.
Race 5 and a pair of Muscle Hill colts, Royal Ice and Speak The Truth, flashed some talent in this one. Royal Ice was the winner for Smedshammer in 1:56.1/:27.4 with Speak The Truth closing in nicely late for Tim Tetrick.
After a short break in the action, play resumed with the unbeaten Perfect Alliance taking a 1:52.3 tour of the oval, getting in a little leg stretching in anticipation of the first Miss Versatility leg on May 19 at Woodbine. Gingras was along for the ride.
Bee A Magician raced next and won comfortably in 1:55.3/:27.4 after drafting along behind the classy Celebrity Secret (who is returning to the races after a six year absence) through dawdling fractions. She's getting there.
Next up were the pacers.
Gallie Bythe Beach appeared for the first time since her Breeders Crown elimination win last fall and she looked sharp, cutting the mile in 1:52.4 with a :26.4 sprint tacked on while under John Campbell restraint. Three Diamonds winner Delightful Dragon kicked home well to be second.
Act Now, second in that same Three Diamonds stake last November, went well for Sears today, pacing a 1:53/:26.4 mile on her own in preparation for next week's New Jersey Sires Stakes. Ideal Helen and Caviart Shelly followed her home.
Some really good 3-year-old pacing colts came out this morning and Winds Of Change won the 10th race with Tetrick aboard in 1:52.1, home in :26.1 and looked good doing it in his first go of the spring. Western Vintage disappointed by breaking on the final bend in this one at a high rate of speed. Western Vintage's trainer, Nancy Johansson, posted on Facebook afterward that driver Gingras went a 1:50.3 schooling mile after and "he was very good!"
Tellitlikeitis went some scary last quarter in the 11th race as he ripped from the pocket to zip by Somestarsomewhere in 1:50.1 with a sizzling :25.3 for the last quarter right on the timer. Somestarsomewhere and Journeyman both went well here, they just go so fast! (with files from Meadowlands)