Sunday, December 18, 2022

In the post-race interview after the featured high-end conditioned pace at The Meadowlands Saturday night, driver George Brennan was asked about where Crunch Time A’s ceiling is after winning a second consecutive Big M overnight feature.

Brennan said simply: “I don’t know.”

That’s how good Crunch Time A was in the $27,500 pace for non-winners of $20,000, as the Australian import stayed perfect in four North American starts after stopping the clock in a lifetime-best equaling 1:49.4 on a 37-degree New Jersey night where the real-feel temperature was 31 at race time.

“He was a little bit more revved up [before the race] than I remember,” said Brennan, who last drove the 6-year-old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere-The Arch Nemesis on Nov. 19. “He was moving his head and bucking, so I took him to the outrider and tried to relax him. That quieted him down a little bit.”

And then it was crunch time.

Brennan had Crunch Time A in high gear at the start from post nine in the nine-horse field, but Caliber (post five) and Vettel N (post seven) also left alertly, leaving Crunch Time A briefly five-wide around the first turn. Soon thereafter, the other two leavers found spots at the rail, but Brennan had no interest in looking for a spot, ranging up first over to get past leader Fortify at the three-eighths before making it to the half in :54.2.

Then, Crunch Time A showed why he is the current top dog at The Meadowlands, sprinting his third fraction in :27.2 to open up a 1½-length advantage at three-quarters before cruising home a 3¼-length winner over a pair of fast-closing foes, Caliber and The Claw, who finished second and third, respectively.

“He’s definitely not a kid’s horse,” joked winning trainer Nik Drennan about his prized pupil’s propensity to act erratically, like he did during the pre-race warm up. “That comes naturally with an “A” at the end of his name (referring to his Australian heritage) and the fact that he’s a Somebeachsomewhere. But it’s nothing to be concerned about. As far as I’m concerned, he’s pretty push button for me.

“He doesn’t need to race [on the front end], but from the nine hole we are forced to race him like that because of the “no tuck” rule. He can easily come off cover. We trained him off cover and he’s very manageable. George gets along good with him.”

With Yonkers going dark from Dec. 23 until Jan. 16, Drennan hopes that some of the upper-echelon races at The Big M fill. “I’ll enter the horse for New Year’s Eve [at The Meadowlands]. I’d like to keep him here as long as possible. Hopefully, there are races for him.”

As the 4-5 favorite, Crunch Time A paid $3.80 to win. He now has 24 wins from 86 lifetime starts.

A LITTLE MORE: Driver Jordan Stratton showed he’s not just a one-trick, half-mile track pony, as the 35-year-old Yonkers standout won three times on the card. … Dexter Dunn stayed red hot, also winning three. The 33-year-old Kiwi has won at least three on five straight cards, a span over which he’s emerged victorious 19 times. … There will be no live racing at The Meadowlands next weekend (Dec. 23-24) for the Christmas holiday. … Racing resumes Friday, Dec. 30 at 6:20 p.m. All-source handle totaled $2,879,065.

PHOTO: Crunch Time A and driver George Brennan take the Saturday night feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)