Back-to-back $5-million weekends at Big M
November 25, 2020
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When a track hosts “event programs” with marquee races such as the Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian, it’s difficult to stack up a third card to match the other two in terms of excitement and impact.
But on Saturday night, Fall Final Four/TVG Finals Night did well to live up to those programs with thrilling racing where divisional honors were won and lost, as well as featuring outstanding performances from some of the game’s best horsemen and horsewomen at the showcase of the sport, the Meadowlands.
The human stars of the night were Dexter Dunn and Nancy Takter, respectively the frontrunners to be voted the United States Harness Writers Association’s driver and trainer of the year.
Of the eight stakes races on the card, Dunn emerged victorious four times, guiding Manchego (TVG Open Trot), Kissin In The Sand (TVG Mares Pace), Always A Miki (Governor’s Cup) and Bettor’s Wish (TVG Open Pace) to victory lane.
Takter scored three victories, as her trainees – Manchego, Kissin In The Sand and Always A Miki – were all handled by Dunn. In addition to that power-packed threesome, Takter also had likely Horse of the Year winner Tall Dark Stranger – the Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup champion – in her barn.
Four horses made the final starts of their careers on Saturday, and, remarkably, all were seen in the winner’s circle at their race's end.
Manchego, a three-time Breeders Crown winner, gunned down arch-rival Atlanta for her 33rd win from 56 career starts while Plunge Blue Chip powered clear of her foes in TVG Mares Trot after a crafty second-quarter rating of :29.1 by trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt.
Kissin In The Sand ended her time on the track with a seventh straight score, taking down defending Horse of the Year Shartin N in 1:48 while Bettor’s Wish, so game in taking The Big M’s Sam McKee Memorial in the summer, had another superb mile-oval performance in closing out his career with a 1:48.1 clocking in the TVG Open Pace.
For a second straight weekend, betting surpassed the $5-million plateau as a total of $5,079,059 was pushed through the windows after $2,334,662 was bet Friday (Nov. 20) and another $2,744,397 on Saturday (Nov. 21).
Saturday saw steady play in the track’s popular multi-leg wagers as $90,865 was poured into the Late 50-cent Pick-4 pool, $74,285 in the 20-cent Pick-5, $73,875 in the Early Pick-4, $42,871 in the 20-cent Pick-6, $23,341 in the 10-cent Pentafecta and $17,839 in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, which might have been the smallest of the featured pools, but yielded by far the biggest payout, as one sharp player wagering into the Nassau-Suffolk Off-Track Betting hub walked away with $15,163.06.
Live racing will continue every Friday and Saturday night through the end of 2020. The one exception is Christmas Day. Post time every night is 7:15 p.m. (Meadowlands)