Western Joe takes Big M feature again
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Western Joe received another good steer from driver Pat Berry on the way to winning the Meadowlands Saturday night feature, the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers, for the third time in four tries.
Ever since finishing fourth to Downbytheseaside in the Progress Pace on Nov. 30, the 4-year-old son of Western Ideal has won five of eight outings, with a total of seven on-the-board finishes.
On Saturday night, Western Joe was on the go early, grabbing the lead from Bettor's Edge just after the quarter, which went in :27.1. Bettor's Edge retook at the three-eighths and the pair stayed that way to the top of the stretch.
Around the far turn, 4-5 favorite Rockin Ron was making his presence felt swinging to the outside for the stretch drive after racing in a live flow third-over. But through the lane, while Rockin Ron was closing in on the far outside, Western Joe found an opening along the inside and powered clear to record a 1¼-length win in 1:50. Rockin Ron finished second, with Bettor's Edge holding third.
As the third choice in the field of seven, Western Joe returned $13.00 to his backers for trainer Chris Choate and owner Anthony Ruggeri. He now has 13 wins in 34 career starts and a bankroll of just over $200,000.
A LITTLE MORE: Leading driver Jim Marohn Jr. won three races on the card. ... One lucky player held the only winning ticket in the fourth-race Trifecta and walked away with $24,961.50 for a $1 base wager. ... The Pick-5 was not hit, resulting in a carryover of $30,202. ... The Pick-4 pool was crushed to the tune of $94,699, and those who hit it cashed in for $454.35 for a 50-cent bet. ... The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High Five again did not result in a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover to $120,134. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,719,591. ... Racing resumes at the Big M Friday at 6:35 p.m.