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Stars out in force at Big M qualifiers

April 20, 2012

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Besides Check Me Out's impressive in the first of 17 qualifiers Friday at the Meadowlands, there were several other standout effort. Speed-badge honors of 1:52.1 were shared by the 2011 Breeders Crown Older Horse Pace champion Bettor Sweet and the 3-year-old pacer Mel Mara, who has just five career starts under his belt.

Bettor Sweet, who brings a career bankroll of more than $2.2 million into the 2012 season, romped to a 14-length victory for driver John Campbell and trainer Tom Cancelliere in his debut. The 7-year-old son of Bettor's Delight rolled through fractions of :28.2, :56.4 and 1:24.3 before coming home in :27.3 for the easy victory.

Mel Mara, a son of Lis Mara, had one win and two seconds last year at two, and had been off since finishing eighth in his Metro elimination last Aug. 27 at Mohawk. With Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Tony Alagna in the qualifier, Mel Mara moved to the lead before the :57 half and held clear to a two-length win at the finish line.

"He's the fastest horse I've ever been involved with,” Myron Bell, racing manager of co-owner Brittany Farms recently told harnessracing.com of Mel Mara. "He has frightening speed.”

New York Sire Stakes champion Heston Blue Chip, who closed out his 2-year-old campaign last year with a victory in the $177,275 Matron final at Dover Downs, received a perfect steer from driver Tim Tetrick to win his qualifier in 1:53.1. Leaving from post eight, Tetrick dropped in fourth with Heston Blue Chip and then moved his charge to the outside in the final turn before rallying with a final quarter of :26.2 to get the victory.

Linda Toscano trains Heston Blue Chip, a 3-year-old son of American Ideal.

Another returning star sophomore pacer, Hurrikane Kingcole, also won his qualifier with a 1:52.4 effort for driver Tetrick and trainer John McDermott. The son of Cam's Card Shark banked more than a quarter-million dollars last year with his five wins including a $117,699 Nassagaweya division at Mohawk. He also earned a big payday with a third-place finish in the $650,000 Breeders Crown final at Woodbine.

Jezzy, the winner of last year's New York Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly trotters, scored a 1:56 qualifying victory over a field that included older gelding The Chancellor and last year's Breeders Crown and Kentucky Filly Futurity winner Cedar Dover, who finished second and third, respectively.

Trainer Ray Schnittker was in the bike as Jezzy sat second behind The Chancellor for most of the mile before moving past in the stretch to win by a half length. The daughter of Credit Winner has 20 wins in 29 career starts with earnings of $806,790.

Royal Shyster, a $450,000 purchase at last fall's mixed sale at Harrisburg, won his qualifier in 1:57.1, besting stablemate Gym Tan Laundry by 1 ½ lengths. Both sophomore trotters are trained by Noel Daley.

Jim Rattray was in the sulky behind Royal Shyster as the son of RC Royalty made his first appearance for new owners William Weaver III and Jim Winske. A nine-time winner in 14 starts in 2011, Royal Shyster was dominant on the New York Sire Stakes circuit.

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