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ARIANA G SCORES AT BIG M IN 2018 DEBUT

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Ariana G made her return to the races a winning one, scoring in the first of two divisions of the first leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters Saturday night at the Meadowlands.
The 2017 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown champion was ready to go in her first start as a 4-year-old off a pair of solid qualifiers, marching up to the top just after the quarter, which went in :27.3.
Bill’s Man, the 9-2 second choice in the wagering, came after the leader as he made progress up the backstretch and got into striking position at three-quarters, but Ariana G had been able to rate the middle half in :57.2, leaving her plenty for the stretch drive. After trotting her final quarter in :27.1, she hit the wire three-quarters-of-a-length in front of Dunbar Hall, who had explosive late trot after going a third-over trip. Yes Mickey, one of only three horses to defeat Ariana G a year ago, finished third.
“(Driver) Yannick (Gingras) said she was loaded,” said winning trainer Jimmy Takter. “But I’m always nervous when my horses make their first start of the year.”
He needn’t have been.
As the 2-5 favorite, Ariana G returned $2.80 to her backers for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. She trotted the mile in 1:52.1 and now has 22 wins from 27 lifetime starts and earnings of $1.89 million.
The second Graduate division saw a thrilling stretch duel go to Achille Duharas, who nailed International Moni by a nose on the wire in 1:52.2.
Making his first start of the year, International Moni was sharp, working out an inside trip and looking like a winner in deep stretch, but the Toronto invader Achille Duharas ($8.20 to win), with Jody Jamieson driving, got up as they hit the finish. Lord Cromwell was third.
A LITTLE MORE: The total wager of $2,172,322 represented a 25 percent decrease from the corresponding card from a year ago. A total of only 83 horses participated on Saturday’s program, an average of 8.3 per race for the 10 races. Last year, 112 horses were spread over 12 races, an average of 9.3 per race. … One lucky simulcast player in Toms River, N.J. raked the pot in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10. After surviving nine legs, he or she walked away with $15,257. … Harness racing’s biggest pot of gold got a little bit bigger. The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover to $233,359. … Racing resumes at the Meadowlands Friday at 7:15 p.m.

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