In what was the most thrilling finish of the year at the Meadowlands, Highalator outlasted a stubborn Bettor’s Edge by the smallest of noses in the Saturday night feature (June 30), in the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers. Western Joe was third.
Driver Eric Abbatiello asked Highalator for early speed, and the Jenny Bier trainee responded big time, reaching the quarter in :26.2 while parked out. As the cadence slowed, Jennifer Lappe put Bettor’s Edge in play, moving the veteran three wide at three-eighths to go up after the leader, who hit the half in :55.2.
The battle was now on.
Highalator was at the rail with Bettor’s Edge right alongside as the duo dueled nose-to-nose past the five-eighths and three-quarters (1:21.3) before Highalator gained a length lead at the head of the stretch.
The pair continued to go at it as Bettor’s Edge inched closer through the lane and when he took one last lunge at the wire, it appeared he may have gotten there in time. But he just missed.
Apparently, Abbatiello thought he got caught. He had taken Highalator back to the paddock and had to be summoned to the winner’s circle after his number was posted after the judges took several minutes to examine the photo.
The winning time of 1:48 was a lifetime best for Highalator, a 4-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere, who won at the Big M on June 2 in 1:48.1. He’s now won seven-of-17 starts this year and 19-of-38 overall. He has lifetime earnings of $233,218 for owners Jenny Bier, Joann Dombeck and Midsize Construction. As the 4-5 favorite, Highalator paid $3.80 to win.
MONEY MAKIN’ MILLENNIALS: New Jersey residents Aaron Staluzzi of Wayne ($2,500), Dennis J. McKeon III ($1,500) of Keansburg and Eric Pollari of Morris Plains ($1,000) were the big winners in the Big M’s free-to-enter handicapping contest for patrons 18-30 years of age. The $5,000 in prize money was sponsored by Jeff and Paula Gural’s Allerage Farms.
A LITTLE MORE: Andy Miller drove four winners on the card while Abbatiello had three. … The hot temperatures led to a lightning-fast track that produced eight lifetime-best miles and one lifetime-best equaling effort. … One lucky player was sharp enough to survive eight legs of the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and collected $10,813. … The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover to $272,052. … All-source wagering on the 12-race card totaled $1,975,759. … Racing resumes at the Big M Friday at 7:15 p.m. … Saturday’s card gets underway at 6:35 p.m. and features eliminations for the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. (Meadowlands)