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WILD WAGERING, GRADUATE SERIES HIGHLIGHT BIG NIGHT AT BIG M

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Wagering that topped the $4-million mark, two $50,000 divisions of the Graduate Series for 4-year-olds on the pace and a pair of top-notch $30,000 Preferreds – one on the pace and one on the trot – highlighted a huge night of racing at The Meadowlands Saturday.
Betting bettered the $4-million plateau for the fourth time this year, as all-source play totaled $4,451,363 (average per race: $342,412), the second highest night of action at The Big M this year, to fall just $100,000 short of what was bet on Jan. 2. Three races saw total pools of over $400,000, with the eighth race the best of the night (and the year), at $498,525.
Action for the weekend totaled $7,967,639, by far a 2021 best.
On the track, continuing to get his campaign off to an extraordinary start was the Tony Alagna-trained Captain Barbossa, who took the first division of the Graduate in a lifetime-best 1:48.4 with Dexter Dunn in the bike.
Poseidon Seelster, in search of his third straight win, was on the front end at three-quarters in 1:21.4, but after making moderate progress around the far turn, Captain Barbossa, who went parked for the final half-mile, found another gear mid-stretch to power his way to a 1¼-length win. Poseidon Seelster was second with Splash Brother third.
“He got a pretty good spot early,” said Dunn, “and once we got past the half, he was ready to go. He’s such a nice horse, in the last 100 [yards] he was drawing away from them.”
Captain Barbossa, whose lone 2020 win came in the Little Brown Jug, upped his seasonal mark to two wins in two starts. He paid $3.40 to win as the 3-5 favorite.
Ruthless Hanover, unseen since winning at The Big M on Dec. 5 in a sparkling 1:48.4, came back from an extended layoff to stop the clock in 1:48.4 again in the Graduate’s second division.
Driver Andy McCarthy was in no hurry early and did not move Ruthless Hanover to the front until after the quarter. The pair sailed down the road from there, using a :26 final panel to keep Warrawee Vital at bay by a safe head. Chief Mate was third.
“His qualifiers were terrific,” said McCarthy of the Tom Cancelliere trainee, “and you’ve got to be fully ready to go before facing these horses. He’s just waiting for horses to come to him, and once they do, he takes off. We cut a pretty comfortable half [of :55.3]. He definitely had a lot more. He wasn’t tired, that’s for sure. I’m expecting good things.”
As the 6-5 public choice, Ruthless Hanover paid $4.60 to win. He’s won four of his last five and seven of 13 lifetime.
PROLIFIC PREFERREDS: Lindy The Great, who banked over $390,000 a year ago despite winning only once, upped his 2021 record to two wins in as many tries in taking the Preferred Handicap for trotters in 1:52.1.
The Andy Miller-driven, Julie Miller-trained 7-year-old got roughed up a bit from post eight before making the lead at the half in :56.3, then kicked home in a final half of :55.3 to hold off the late-surging Mississippi Storm by a nose to up his career earnings to $1,069,199.
He paid $3.60 as the 4-5 public choice.
One week ago, Stars Align A became the fastest performer in harness racing this year with a clocking of 1:48, and the Jenn Bongiorno trainee proved that was no fluke by beating a field of Preferred pacers that included Ana Afreet N (who finished fifth in the six-horse field) and Sintra (fourth as the 3-5 favorite).
Jenn’s brother Joe put the 8-year-old Stars Align A on the point at the half in :55.2 before pacing a back half in a dazzling :53.3. He hit the finish in 1:49, two lengths in front of Colossal Stride A. Wheels On Fire was third.
Stars Align A returned $7.60 to his backers as the second choice in the wagering.
NON-BETTORS: Between races one and two, a pair of New Jersey Breeders Maturity Finals for 4-year-olds on the trot were contested.
The Lucas Wallin-trained, Tim Tetrick-driven Ab’sattitudexpress sat a pocket trip behind lone foe Spoiled Princess before trotting past that one in the stretch on the way to three-quarter-length victory in 1:53.3 in the $30,000 event for mares. The daughter of Trixton-Abbie’sgotattitude now has nine wins from just 18 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $291,141.
Back Of The Neck, a son of Ready Cash-Big Barb who is trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt, scored in the $40,000 dash for horses and geldings in 1:53.4 after leading at every call in the five-horse field. He’s now eight-for-22 for his career and has earnings of $517,357.
A LITTLE MORE: Dunn guided three winners on the card, to up his Big M leading dash-win total to 71. … Jeff Cullipher had a training triple. He currently tops the conditioner standings with 41 victories. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

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