Saturday, February 12, 2022

Apparently, Divine Deo had had enough.

After being beaten by JM Betonsix the last two times they faced off, the daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Timber popped out of the pocket in deep stretch and wore down JM Betonsix by a half-length in a lifetime-best 1:51.3 in the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands, a high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares.

“She’s actually a nice mare,” said winning driver Joe Bongiorno. “I liked her when on the front [two weeks ago, when beaten by JM Betonsix] but she was kind of looking around. On the helmet, it seems like she paid a lot more attention. She had a really good burst of speed (pacing a final quarter of :26). Sometimes horses learn with age that they have to pass horses. Once she gets better at passing that last horse, I think the sky’s the limit for her.”

JM Betonsix was attempting to win a fourth straight start, and as a result, was sent to the gate as the 2-5 favorite. Like a week ago, it was a carefree cruise most of the way as the Ron Burke-trained, Yannick Gingras-driven 4-year-old was able to cut out fractions of :27.3, :56.3 and 1:25.2.

The favorite was determined for the stretch drive, but so was Divine Deo, who chipped away at the leader’s edge at the sixteenth pole before finishing the job, and in doing so, lowered her previous fastest-ever mile by two-and-four-fifth seconds. JM Betonsix, who took some rough steps nearing the wire, survived an inquiry to finish second. Bettors Heart N was a fast-closing third.

Divine Deo now has nine wins from 31 career outings for trainer Burke – whose horses finished 1-2 – and owners Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi. Her bank account now stands at $70,878. She rewarded her backers with a win payout of $18.60. Surprisingly, she was the third choice in the wagering.

“She got a really good trip, the fractions were really soft,” said Bongiorno. “Yannick [Gingras, driving JM Betonsix] turned it into a two-horse race and we went :26.1 on the board for the final quarter. If Yannick’s horse doesn’t do that little bobble in the stretch, I don’t get there, but sometimes you need a little luck. [JM Betonsix] was giving it all she had, and some horses put in a little bobble. That was just enough.”

BIG PICK-6 HIT: With a modest carryover of $8,572 leading to a total pool of just over $47,000, winning 20-cent Pick-6 players found themselves with plenty of green to bet on Sunday’s big game, as three shrewd bettors walked away with a payout of $13,748.98.

The odds of the winning horses in the sequence were 15-1, 6-1, 8-1, 8-5, 6-5 and 5-2.

A LITTLE MORE: Gingras won his second race of the night in the 13th and final, keeping his streak alive of winning at least twice on all nine race cards in 2022. His 33 wins lead the driver colony. … Bongiorno also had two on the night. He is second in the standings with 19 victories. … Scott Zeron led the colony for the evening, guiding three to victory lane. … All-source handle totaled $2,533,948. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Divine Deo and driver Joe Bongiorno are up in time in the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)