The New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) finals for 3-year-old trotters and pacers will each be raced for a purse of $100,000 on Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Deo Volente Farms is the title sponsor for all four divisions of the stake.
Among the contenders are the 2-year-old trotting and pacing national divisional leaders from last season, Southwind Frank and Boston Red Rocks, respectively.
The evening's stakes begin in race two, where Boston Red Rocks gets underway from post two for Tim Tetrick in a six-horse field. The strapping Rocknroll Hanover colt took the first leg in 1:50.3, then met with road trouble last week when Tetrick was forced to take up sharply to avoid the breaking Ideal Rocky resulting in a third-place finish. With a hundred grand on the line the surest course to victory is likely a forwardly placed one for Boston Red Rocks and his team of trainer Steve Elliott along with owners Peter Blood and Rick Berks.
Southwind Frank starts from the open outside post eight in the eighth race for Yannick Gingras and finds a pretty good group of horses to his left. This Muscle Hill scion won all the majors last year and is the fastest freshman trotting colt in the long history of harness racing by virtue of his 1:52.2 win in Lexington last fall. He dominated this group with a 1:52.1 romp in the first leg then stayed home while Maven's Way edged Jack Vernon in an eye-popping 1:51.4 last week. Add prospects like Bar Hopping and Brooklyn Hill to the mix and you've got yourself a horse race. Ron Burke trains the favorite, who now races for the eponymous Southwind Frank Partners.
Gingras will also be in the sulky of the consensus choice in the filly trot, directing the fortunes of All The Time (PP #2) for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. Trainer Jimmy Takter also chose to defer last week after her effortless 1:53.2 win in the first leg. A full field of 10 will face the starter in this, the sixth race of the card.
The pacing fillies go forward in the fourth race and Emilio and Maria Rosati's Blue Moon Stride (PP #6) has the favorite's role off a pair of dominant wins against these young ladies the past two weeks. A new shooter appeared last week in Rocknroll Vision who was a good second to the fave and has drawn the outside post seven for the final. Mark Harder trains and Andrew McCarthy is scheduled to drive Blue Moon Stride in her quest to defend her title.
Promotions-wise the action is moving outdoors with the "30 & Under Handicapping Contest" offering $5,000 in prizes to the neophyte crowd on Friday evening. Interested parties may sign up until 7:00 p.m. on the rooftop Victory Terrace. Saturday marks the return of the Jersey Fest Food Truck Mash-Up brings hungry fans from all over the Garden State.
For the experienced horseplayer the standard wagers and guarantees are in place and the last race Hi-5 Super Jackpot carryover stands at $237,882 to start the racing weekend. (Meadowlands)