Ariana G bested the boys with a world-record performance to win Saturday’s $250,000 Graduate Series championship for 4-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands, defeating Moonshiner Hanover by 3 3/4 lengths in 1:50.2. Sortie finished third.
The time was the fastest ever by a 4-year-old female trotter on a mile track. The previous record of 1:51 was shared by three mares: Mistery Woman in 2014, Hannelore Hanover in 2016, and Emoticon Hanover in 2017.
Ariana G, a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3, also surpassed $2 million in career purses with the triumph. Owned by breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, the mare has won 23 of 30 lifetime races and earned $2.01 million. It was her second victory in four starts this year and came in her second race since returning from illness in June.
"She was awesome tonight," winning trainer Jimmy Takter said. "I’m so glad she’s where she belongs. She went up to Canada (in June) and her blood work was wrong and she scoped bad and I had to give her a little time to rebound from that. She had a good winter, so I knew she was in top-level form, it’s just those things happen when they get sick."
Ariana G, the only mare in the race and 3-2 favorite in the field of 10, started from post eight and was moved to the lead by driver Yannick Gingras prior to reaching the opening quarter-mile in :27.3. International Moni came to challenge Ariana G on the backstretch and got a quarter-length in front as they hit the half in :55.2, but he was unable to clear completely and continued to race on the outside entering the final turn.
From there, Ariana G accelerated and pulled away from the field. She trotted the last quarter-mile in :27, which was the best of the group.
"I wanted to keep (International Moni) out there," Gingras said. "He didn’t look like he had as much trot as I did. My mare felt so strong. I was going to take matters into my own hands and she showed it.
"I told Jimmy it was a taxing half (mile) and I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I was going to win, but in the last turn she started to swell up and felt so, so strong. I knew something would have to happen for her to get beat tonight."
Ariana G, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Cantab It All, paid $5.00 to win. (Ken Weingartner/USTA)