Sunday, March 3, 2024

It wasn’t easy, but American Dealer N, one week after finishing a solid second to the hottest horse around, got up at the wire to take the Saturday night pacing feature at The Meadowlands, a $23,000 high-end conditioned event.

The even-money favorite, who finished a close second to Oakwood Ardan IR – a winner of six straight – last week, sat a four-hole trip down the backstretch, but despite picking up live cover, almost failed to get up in the final strides.

Captain Cowboy was the fastest in the early going, leading at the quarter in :27, before yielding the point to 2-1 second choice Oakwood Paddy IR, Oakwood Ardan IR’s stablemate, in :55.2.

Andy McCarthy then moved Dragononthebeach out of the three-hole, and with an explosive burst of speed, grabbed the lead away from Oakwood Paddy IR on the far turn as American Dealer N could not keep up with his live tow despite getting a perfect second-over trip.

Off three-quarters in 1:23.1, Dragononthebeach got clear of Oakwood Paddy IR by a length as they straightened up for the drive to the wire, with American Dealer N starting to gain momentum from third. Dragononthebeach was game right down to the thrilling finish but it was American Dealer N who prevailed by a head in 1:50.3. Oakwood Paddy IR finished third.

“Andy [McCarthy, driving Dragononthebeach] drove a really good race,” said winning driver Jordan Stratton. “Around the last turn, I didn’t know if I was going to get there. [American Dealer N] is such a nice horse to drive. He can leave or chase. I think he’s just a good horse all around. He shows up every week.”

Trained by Hall of Famer – and recent winner of the United States Harness Writers Association’s Good Guy Award – Linda Toscano, American Dealer N, a 7-year-old son of American Ideal-Maddisons Delight, paid $4 to win after upping his lifetime stats to 23 wins from 92 starts, good for earnings of $619,141 for owners Enviro Stables and Kenneth Jacobs.

‘GENIUS’ A SMART-LOOKING WINNER: Stable Genius came from sixth at the half to take the $23,000 featured high-end conditioned trot for driver Todd McCarthy and trainer Jeff Cullipher.

The 5-year-old gelded son of Muscle Mass-Pretty Crafty Here was in a good second-over flow heading to the five-eighths before the horse providing that cover, Dewey Arnold, went off stride. It didn’t matter to Stable Genius, who finished the job in 1:53 as the 1-2 favorite after continuing an extended rally while parked for the final three-eighths.

“I probably would have liked to have been a little closer early,” said McCarthy. “But there was a lot of speed inside of me. But it worked out.”

WHAT’S YOUR HANDLE: For the first time this year, weekend handle surpassed the $7-million mark after $3,568,532 was put in play on the 14-race card. Friday’s action was $3.6 million.

There have been 17 programs at The Big M this year, with 15 of those surpassing the $3-million mark. In addition, the streak of $3-million handles now stands at 11.

A LITTLE MORE: Cullipher led the trainers with three victories on the night. … Jessica Otten led the Big M’s TV crew of handicappers with seven winners on the card, including the Early Pick-4, which returned $195.20 for a $27 investment. … Todd McCarthy and Stratton led the driver colony as each took three walks down victory lane. … In his first day back at work this year, Scott Zeron, the Dan Patch 2023 Driver of the Year, guided Ideal Feeling ($12 to win) to the winner’s circle. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: American Dealer N won the Saturday night pacing feature at The Meadowlands with Jordan Stratton doing the driving. (Credit: Lisa Photo)