Driver of Year Dunn wins 7 at Meadowlands
January 12, 2020
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The hottest name in harness racing these days is Dexter Dunn, and the recently named United States Harness Writers Association’s Driver of the Year lived up to his considerable current hype at the Meadowlands Saturday night, winning seven times on the 14-race card, falling just one victory short of tying the mark for most wins on a Big M program.
Dunn was red-hot from the start sweeping the Early Daily Double that paid $24.20. The 30-year-old New Zealand native then turned up the volume to “10” by winning five straight races beginning in Race 5.
Among those winners were JL Cruze, the first-ever sub-1:50 trotter in Meadowlands history, and a pair of Down Under pacers from Darren Cassar’s barn.
The first was Italian Delight N, who flew home off cover to take the sixth race before Effronte A, a 7-year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven-Fleur De Lil, exploded home in :25.4 after a cover trip to win in 1:48.3, the fastest mile of the year in the sport.
Dunn’s final two wins were of the close-call variety, as he scored with Harambe Deo in the featured high-range conditioned pace, barely edging out Eddard Hanover, who came back along the inside very late after being passed in deep stretch. In the next race, Dunn and Hurrikane Ali got passed by Whatstroublnurocky only to come back nearing the wire and score by a small neck to give Dunn his seven-bagger.
“JL Cruze was great,” said Dunn. “I was really happy with the way he trotted tonight. He was very smooth. Effronte A was awesome. He got a really good trip. When I asked him halfway down the straight, he knuckled down and was really motoring.
“I was not aware,” said Dunn if he knew about how close he was to making Meadowlands history. “I had some good drives, but it doesn’t always work out. I got some good trips and my horses raced really well tonight.”
In Race 11, it appeared Dunn had the record tied when he and Rock Lights had a 4-length lead with three-sixteenths of a mile to go. But it wasn’t to be. “He just over-raced,” said Dunn. “He got down to the half fast (:53.4) and I was trying to get him to go slower, but he was really fired up.” Rock Lights weakened and finished third.
The record of eight wins on a Meadowlands program is shared by Mike Lachance (July 14, 1995) and Brett Miller (December 16, 2016). The last time a driver had seven on a card was Yannick Gingras, who turned the trick on Feb. 1 of last year.
For those who hit the first 2020 edition of the Can-Am Pick-4 it was a good night, as the payout for the wager with the 20-cent base was $1,413.40. The Late 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover to $105,787. All-source handle totaled $2,567,930. (Meadowlands)