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MCCARTHY SCHOOLS ‘EM IN KINDERGARTEN FINALS ON OPENING NIGHT AT THE MEADOWLANDS

Saturday, November 4, 2017

When you’re hot, you’re hot, and nobody cut through the chilly 40-degree November air like Andrew McCarthy on Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

McCarthy won three of the four Kindergarten Classic Finals on the opening night of the Fall/Winter Meet at the Big M.

McCarthy kicked off his streak in the $198,000 filly trot by changing tactics with Hey Blondie, who had not shown any gate speed in her previous races, including a fifth-place finish in the Breeders Crown Final last week at Hoosier Park.

“I post paraded her tonight and she felt great so I thought I would take a shot and leave out of there with her,” explained McCarthy. “I didn’t want a slow middle half and have to come first over so I just decided to take a shot and race her from the front. She has always been strong at the end of the mile.”

Hey Blondie held off favored Basquiat to win in 1:53.4 with Dab Hanover third.

McCarthy struck again in the $214,900 Colt Trot with 7/5 favorite Tito. The Erv Miller-trainee battled some sickness in July, but has rounded back in to form and scored the richest win of his young career in 1:55.

Tito will next be pointed to the Valley Victory, part of the Fall Final Four at the Meadowlands with finals on November 25.

The most drama of the night came in the $150,000 final for the pacing colts and geldings. Points North, a Pinske Stables homebred by Somebeachsomewhere out of the family’s Northwest Hanover, held off the late kick of longshot Fashiononthebeach to win in a lifetime-best 1:51.1.

“He’s really good in the stretch,” said McCarthy. “He’ll keep fighting when you’re driving on him. He started a little slow and he has matured as the season has gone on. I figured there would be a big first eighth of a mile. I had to pull him and in the stretch he dug in.”

The most impressive performance of the night came in the filly pace where Kissin in the Sand made up for her disappointing Breeders Crown elimination with an eye-popping score in her $140,550 final.

Kissin in the Sand and Yannick Gingras parked out second-choice I’m Trigger Happy through matching opening quarters of :27.1. I’m Trigger Happy wilted from that taxing half mile while Kissin in the Sand continued on her speed mission. She polished off a lifetime-best 1:50.3 effort with a :27.3 last quarter to hold safe from runner-up Reign on Me.

It was 1/5 of a second off the track record set by JK She’salady, the 2014 Horse of the Year, trained by Nancy Johansson.

“She’s a little more high strung and difficult, but they’re both fast,” said Johansson when asked to compare the two fillies. “She’s been very special from the beginning. Training down she showed a lot of speed but she was always quirky, but the first time we brought her to the Meadowlands she was professional and handled her business. She was very impressive and I don’t think it took anything out of her.”

The highly-anticipated Pick 10 Survivor made its debut on Saturday and handled $11,600. With a tricky early sequence of winners, 33 tickets survived through the first four races and received a payout of $298.66.

Live racing resumes next Saturday with a 7:15 p.m. post time.

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