Trotters Trixton and Heaven's Door, and pacers Doo Wop Hanover and Act Now, captured the quartet of $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Finals for three-year-olds, the featured events on Jerseyfest night, (Saturday, May 31), which brought a big crowd out to the Meadowlands.
This year's Jerseyfest included a competition between 17 food trucks competing for prizes and recognition, as well as vendors and artisans from all over the Garden State on-site sampling and selling their wares. The weather finally cooperated with a pleasant, dry evening.
The festival began around 5pm Saturday evening and the track apron and outfield park filled quickly. A portion of the crowd crept into the grandstand as the evening wore on with many drawn to the racing by the visual displayed on the high definition infield video screen. The design of the new grandstand nicely integrates the racing with events held outside with the track and horses in close proximity to the fans.
An added attraction was the appearance by Victor Espinosa, the jockey set to ride California Chrome in his date with destiny next week in the Belmont Stakes as he tries to be the first winner of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing since 1978. Espinosa greeted fans and signed autographs, joined in a winners circle ceremony that included WNBC sportscaster Bruce Beck and spoke with Sam McKee about the upcoming race.
Even in a field of five, drawing the rail was the key to victory for 9-5 second choice Doo Wop Hanover in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, the second race on card. John Campbell sent Doo Wop Hanover [$5.80] to the lead on the backstretch, relinquished the front to 2-5 favorite Western Vintage as they passed the half and drafted until they straightened out in the homestretch.
Doo Wop Hanover, a son of Rocknroll Hanover, outsprinted Western Vintage [Western Ideal] to the wire in a lifetime best of 1:50 flat. The margin of victory was one-length. Beat The Drum [Tell All] was third by two lengths. There was no show wagering.
"I think the difference was drawing the rail and getting away good, not using him hard,” said Campbell. "I was able to follow Western Vintage into the lane. We beat a very good colt in Western Vintage. I think this colt earned the right to go to Toronto for the North America Cup.”
Trained by Steve Elliott, Doo Wop Hanover now has two wins and one second in three starts this year. The $52,000 Harrisburg Sale purchase has finished in-the-money in nine of 15 career starts, banking $137,013 for the partnership of Peter Blood of Pompano Beach, FL; Rick Berks of Boca Raton, FL and Gary Piontkowski of North Smithfield, RI.
Trixton's six and a half-length victory was no surprise in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings in the third race. The 1-5 favorite romped with a :26.4 final quarter, stopping the clock in 1:52.1, matching the stakes record set by Manofmanymissions in 2011 and equaled by Smilin Eli in 2013.
"He is so nice, a real pleasure to drive,” said winning driver-trainer Jimmy Takter. "He's a [perfect] 10 in every category.”
Takter moved the Muscle Hill colt to the lead on the backstretch and opened up ground in the final eighth of a mile, leaving it to Martiniwithmuscle to edge out Lightning Force, both by Muscle Hill, for minor spoils.
Takter indicated that Trixton [$2.40] would be heading to the Goodtimes in Ontario and not likely to meet his other two trotting standouts, Father Patrick and Nuncio, until the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 12 at the Meadowlands.
Trixton, a $360,000 Lexington Selected Sale purchase, picked up his third straight win in four starts this year and now has seven wins, two seconds and one third in 12 tries. He has now earned $144,583 for the partnership of Brixton Medical AB of Orsundsbro, Sweden and Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ.
Last week, Heaven's Door was disqualified when she raced inside three pylons in the stretch. This week, the daughter of Muscle Hill was straight and true to the wire, winning the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final for three-year-old trotting fillies, the fourth race, in a stakes record 1:52 flat.
Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt guided the filly to a length and a half victory over Lady Suffolk winner Cee Bee Yes [Muscles Yankee]. My Inspiration [Chocolatier] was third by six and a quarter lengths.
Heaven's Door [$10.40] scored a wire-to-wire tally, picking up her first victory in her seventh career start and doubling her lifetime earnings to $100,255 for Mellby Gard Inc of Vero Beach, FL. Bred in Sweden by Winwintrotting AB, she was a $90,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase.
The 1:52 clocking eclipsed the 1:52.4 stakes record established by Passionate Glide in 2006.
Tim Tetrick tested Act Now early and pushed her to the lead with a 26.4 first quarter and 54.3 half and extended that advantage in the stretch to win the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies, the fifth race, in 1:49.3.
Sent off as the even-money favorite, Act Now, a daughter of Western Ideal, paid $4.20, finishing two lengths ahead of Sayitall BB [Tell All]. Fanticipation [Rocknroll Hanover] was third by four and three-quarter lengths.
Act Now, a $40,000 Lexington Selected Sale purchase trained by Nikolas Drennan, posted her second straight win in her third start of the year. She now has five wins, one second and two thirds in 12 lifetime outings. She has banked $256,559 for Joseph Davino of Clarksburg, NJ and Patrick O'Brien of New Hyde Park, NY.--Meadowlands & Carol Hodes/SBOANJ