Saturday, February 10, 2024

Things didn’t go as hoped, but as it turned out, that didn’t matter, as Buddy Earl racked up a second straight score Friday night at The Meadowlands, taking the $15,000 featured mid-range conditioned trot.

Dave Miller, the Hall of Famer who currently sits atop The Big M driver standings, made Plan B work to get the 4-year-old gelded son of Father Patrick-Nixie Volo his seventh lifetime score in 32 tries.

“My plan was to go ahead and leave but the whole field left inside of me,” said Miller. “But the trip worked out really well for us. We had live cover.”

With the field of nine leaving in a straight line, Miller and Buddy Earl had to take back to seventh around the first turn as Conrad DiPoggio IT had the lead at the quarter in :27.4 while 8-5 favorite Outside The Fire raced alongside that one before taking the point.

The action continued to the half as King Alphonso, in search of a second straight score, took over at the half in :56.1. Mon Amour was now up and out of the three-hole and raced on the rim while making progress first-over as Buddy Earl picked up a live tow as three-quarters was reached in 1:25.4.

Miller tipped Buddy Earl off his cover soon after the field straightened up in the stretch and gradually made his way past King Alphonso on the way to an easy 1¼-length win in 1:53.2, just a fifth-of-a-second off his lifetime best. Some Chapter, the 9-5 second choice, fired late to grab second with King Alphonso holding third.

“He’s just so sharp right now I can race him anyway I want to,” said Miller. “Hopefully, he can hold his form and keep it into the summer.”

Buddy Earl, a Richard Johnson trainee, paid $10.60 to win as the 4-1 third choice in the wagering.

A LITTLE MORE: Miller’s three winners led the driver colony and upped his 2024 Big M total to 20. … The 20-cent Pick-8 failed to yield a winning ticket for a fifth straight card, upping the carryover to $8,355 for Saturday. … Despite a sequence that began with a 3-5 and a 2-5 shot, the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 returned $879.88. Five favorites emerged victorious among the seven dashes. … Todd McCarthy returns to action Saturday night after his winter vacation. … All-source handle totaled $3,063,392, the eighth time in 10 cards this year that saw betting bust the $3-million barrier. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Buddy Earl and driver Dave Miller took the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)