JL Cruze takes top trot Friday at Meadowlands
December 12, 2020
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It’s been five years since JL Cruze became the first trotter to break the 1:50 barrier at The Meadowlands, and while the 9-year-old Eric Ell trainee may have lost a step or two over the years, he once again found his way to the mile-oval’s winner’s circle Friday night in the featured $20,000 high-end conditioned trot.
After getting gunned down a week ago when encountering bitter pressure while on the lead, driver Dexter Dunn opted to race in the pocket behind confirmed speedball Warrior One, who four starts ago was positively electric in a wire-to-wire 1:51.4 lifetime score.
Sent to the gate as the 3-1 second choice, Warrior One put JL Cruze in the pocket out of the first turn and cut out fractions of :27, :55.4 and 1:24.4 on the point. JL Cruze gradually made his way off the rail on the far turn and steadily wore down Warrior One through the lane on the way to a 1¾-length score in 1:51.4. The consistent gelded son of Crazed-Topcat Hall won for the fifth time in 2020 from 21 starts while hitting the board 17 times.
“He’s unbelievable,” said Ell. “He still loves what he’s doing. I didn’t think he left as well last week, so we injected his hocks, which is like putting some grease in his joints. It allows him to move a bit better.”
Owned by William Kenneth Wood, William J. Dittmar Jr. and Stephen J. Iaquinta, JL Cruze paid $4.20 as the even-money favorite in recording his 40th win from 122 lifetime starts to up his bulging bank account to $1,534,267.
“Honestly, I think he’s a better horse from behind but he’s got great gate speed and it seems he ends up on the point a lot,” said Ell. “Tonight, out of the two-hole he was raging, but can do it either way. I’d like to keep racing him at The Meadowlands if there’s a race for him. We’re going to keep trying.”
Dunn upped his driver-colony leading win total at the Fall Meeting to 41 after scoring three times on the card. Todd McCarthy, Andy McCarthy and Scott Zeron all had driving doubles. All it took for two sharp players was six out of seven to cash in for $5,568 in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7. … Chalk players ruled the night as eight post-time choices hit victory lane. All-source handle on the 13-race card totaled $2,446,627. (Meadowlands)