Sunday, March 12, 2023

A pair of veterans with gawdy resumes reigned supreme in the co-features at The Meadowlands Saturday night, as Backstreet Shadow took the $45,000 Open 1 for pacers and Ahundreddollarbill emerged victorious in the $40,500 Open 2/Open 1 Handicap for trotters.

Backstreet Shadow, his bankroll now at $1,294,042, followed a live tow from even-money favorite Belmont Royale N to score in the pace for driver Jordan Stratton in 1:50.1 racing out of the Travis Alexander barn for just the second time.

“The trip worked out really well,” said Stratton.

The 8-year-old gelded son of Shadow Play-Backstreet Sweetie raced in the four-hole as American Dealer N took the field past the quarter in :27.2 before Grand Cayman grabbed the top at the half in :55.2.

Belmont Royale N moved to the outside from the four-hole at the half and had to rough it first over, but managed to make steady progress on the leader and raced just off that one’s flank as three-quarters was timed in 1:22.4. Stratton then moved Backstreet Shadow, who recorded his lifetime best of 1:47.2 at The Big M last year, three wide for the stretch drive.

“He’s a really good horse. He raced on the Grand Circuit last year,” said Stratton. “Dave’s (Miller, driving Belmont Royale N) horse kicked on better than I thought he would. But my horse finished up pretty well.”

Backstreet Shadow made the lead soon after they straightened up for the stretch drive before holding off a stubborn Belmont Royale N by a neck. Southwind Gendry rallied for third.

As the 6-1 fourth choice in the wagering, Backstreet Shadow returned $14.80 to his backers while winning for the 36th time from 110 career starts for owner Robert DiNozzi.

After beginning the Winter Meet 0-for-61, driver Todd McCarthy finally got into the win column in the trot, guiding 2-1 second choice Ahundreddollarbill to his 15th victory from 38 career outings after stopping the clock in 1:53.2.

“He was terrific,” said McCarthy. “He’s been racing very well and the trip worked out.”

Lindy The Great led them to the quarter in :27.4 before 8-5 favorite Mississippi Storm took the lead before the three-eighths. Ahundreddollarbill tracked that one from the get-go and made it to the top before the half, which went in :56.1.

McCarthy was then able to rate the third fraction to a tepid :29 to get some separation on the pocket-sitter at the head of the stretch, and it became clear soon thereafter that Mississippi Storm did not have it on this night, as Ahundreddollarbill cruised to the line an easy 1-length winner. Inaminute Hanover was sharp late to get second, with another fast-closer, Platinum As, claiming the show dough. Mississippi Storm was fifth.

“I figured I could follow (Mississippi Storm) all the way to the lead,” said McCarthy. “I was happy with the fractions and was hoping we’d have enough kick. He finished up pretty good there. He was pretty comfortable.”

While lifting his lifetime earnings to $843,219, Ahundreddollarbill paid $6.20 as the 2-1 second choice. The 5-year-old gelded son of Chapter Seven-Swinging Royalty is owned by Crawford Farms Racing and James Crawford and is trained by Tony Alagna.

Was it nice to get your first win of the year?

“It’s been a little bit of a slow start,” said McCarthy with a chuckle. “It’s nice to get one. The worst thing has been (fellow driver) Mark MacDonald. He hasn’t let me forget.”

19 STRAIGHT: All-source betting totaled $3,638,285 on the 14-race card, keeping The Big M’s streak of surpassing the magic $3-million mark intact.

There have been 19 Friday and Saturday night programs conducted during 2023 and every one has seen wagering exceed $3 million.

During 2022, betting went past the $3-million mark 23 times during the 85-program season.

A LITTLE MORE: There were no winning tickets sold on the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover of $10,174 for the next time the wager is offered, which will be Friday’s eighth race. Those with five winning selections collected $1,695.90. … Stratton led the driver colony with three victories. … Stacy Chiodo trained a pair to victory lane. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO1: Backstreet Shadow and driver Jordan Stratton take the Saturday night pacing feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)