The two eliminations for the Jim Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old fillies on the trot were not safe for chalk players Friday night at the Meadowlands.
Over a sloppy track that was battered by rain all night long, the first elimination saw the top two betting choices go off stride as Susy (9-5) faltered around the first turn and Speed Titan (5-2) on the final turn. That left the door open for the toteboard to light up.
Special Honor, driven by Andy Miller and trained by his wife Julie, was actually not even in play in the early stages of the race. In fact, at three-quarters she was in front of but one horse (Susy), but the daughter of Father Patrick-Honor Thy Daughter started to gather momentum heading into the stretch, swerved to the two path mid-lane and then found a seam in deep stretch to gun down the fast-closing The Ice Dutchess by a nose in a lifetime-best 1:55.1.
Special Honor returned $38.60 to win. The exacta, comprised of an 18-1 shot over a 17-1 chance, returned $434.40.
Hanna Dreamgirl, Hanovers Best and Jezzys Legacy were the third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers, respectively, and earned a berth in next week’s $357,450 Doherty final.
The second elimination was contested in a deluge, and after 6-1 shot Starita yielded the early lead to 3-5 chalk Beautiful Sin, this result did not appear to be in doubt. The field raced well away from the rail as the rains continued to fall and Beautiful Sin turned for home on a safe 1 1/2-length lead.
Or so it appeared.
In deep stretch, Beautiful Sin got leg weary and drifted away from the rail. That’s when David Miller asked Starita for trot, and she gave him just enough to nip the favorite at the wire by a nose racing along the inside.
Starita, a daughter of Trixton-Morningstar, paid $14 to win after completing the mile in a lifetime-best 1:55.2. The third- through fifth-place finishers earning a spot in the final were Fate Smiled, Swizzle Sticks and Whispering Oaks.
One astute player in Ontario was the only bettor to survive seven legs of the 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 and walked away with $15,469.
David Miller drove three winners on the program, while Brett Miller, Corey Callahan and Andy McCarthy had two apiece.
All-source wagering on the card totaled $1,621,378. (Meadowlands)