Western Joe wins fifth Big M feature
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The king has regained his crown.
The hard-hitting Western Joe reigned supreme once again at the Meadowlands, winning the Saturday night feature – the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers – for a fifth time in eight tries this year.
The 4-year-old son of Western Ideal scored some revenge over arch-rival Bettor's Edge, who gunned down Western Joe at the wire when the pair squared off last week.
This time around, things started out pretty much the same way as they did that night. Western Joe went right to the top. Bettor's Edge, the back. Western Joe cut out fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:24.3 (middle half of :57.2) while Bettor's Edge set sail after the leader from last in the six-horse field, following the cover of Statham N, down the backside.
As they straightened away with three-sixteenths to go, Western Joe had plenty left in the tank, but so did Bettor's Edge, who tipped off his cover and was closing ground while pacing his final quarter in :25.2. But Western Joe had more than enough to keep his foe at bay, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.1. Bettor's Edge was second, giving him seven on-the-board finishes in nine starts in the Preferred ranks. The pocket-sitting Durant finished third.
"I still think my horse gets a little lonely on the lead," said winning trainer Chris Choate. "But you can't always race covered up, so the front end was the place to be. If you can get a head start on Bettor's Edge, it's a good thing, because he raced huge tonight."
Western Joe paid $3.00 to win as the 1-2 public choice and was driven by Jim Marohn Jr. for owner Anthony Ruggeri. He's now won six of nine this year and 15 of 38 overall, good for a lifetime bankroll of $231,548.
A LITTLE MORE:The 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 pool was extremely popular as wagering reached a 2018-high $24,145. When the dust cleared, one lucky bettor wagering into the Twin Spires hub was the only ticket holder to survive six legs, and they cashed in for $20,522. ... Leading driver Marohn and Andrew McCarthy each had three winners on the card. Victor Kirby had two, giving him five victories over the last two Saturdays. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,454,142. ... The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover to $172,812. ... Racing resumes at the Big M Friday at 7:15 p.m.