Saturday, May 6, 2023

Hot Mess Express got into the win column for the first time in five seasonal starts Friday night at The Meadowlands in a mid-level conditioned pace for mares and her driver is hopeful the lifetime earner of over $850,000 can get back to being the kind of horse she was earlier in her career.

“I think (she’ll be able to go with the good horses in her division),” said Scott Zeron. “Half-mile tracks aren’t her specialty. She’s getting her confidence back.”

Hot Mess Express, who is owned by former NBA standout Sam Bowie, started the year with three unspectacular outings in the Blue Chip Matchmaker series at Yonkers, but rebounded with a good third-place finish at The Big M on April 29 before taking her first winner’s circle photo of the year Friday night.

The 5-year-old daughter of Panther Hanover-My Heart Was True had a stellar 3-year-old season during 2021 when she banked over $630,000, which included a win in the Mistletoe Shalee at The Meadowlands in a lifetime-best 1:48.3.

On Friday, she had to overcome post 10, but proved up to the challenge.

“She was great tonight,” said Zeron. “My plan was just to leave and reassess in the first turn. I decided to take a little relief (by sitting a four-hole trip).”

Hot Mess Express went after leader Huntress down the backside, was within 1½ lengths of that foe at the top of the stretch before wearing her down nearing the wire to record a safe three-quarter-length score in 1:51.2. Huntress held second with Miss Chantilly N third.

“She’s a good grinder,” said Zeron, “and I thought she was the class of the field.”

A Tony Alagna trainee, Hot Mess Express has now won precisely one-half of her 46 lifetime starts. As the 6-5 favorite, she returned $4.40 to her backers.

THE STREAK LIVES: Despite a slow start that saw two of first three races see wagering fail to exceed $143,000 and four fields that had seven starters or less, The Meadowlands’ streak of $3-million handles endured.

There have been 33 Friday and Saturday night programs contested at the mile oval during 2023 (not counting one that was canceled after seven races due to bad weather), and each one has seen betting bust the $3-million barrier.

All-source wagering on Friday’s 14-race card was $3,051,780.

During 2022, there were a total of 85 race cards contested at The Big M, with 23 exceeding the $3-million mark.

A LITTLE MORE: The 20-cent Survivor remains one of the better bets at The Big M, as those with winning tickets cashed in for $7,339.30 despite only needing six winning selections. Winner’s odds during the sequence were 6-5, 9-2, 8-5, 8-1, 6-5, 5-2 and 3-1, as five were sent to the gate as the favorite. … The Brett Pelling-trained 3-year-old gelding Command (Captaintreacherous-Fable) used a pocket trip to gun down the previously unbeaten Ants Marching in a sparkling 1:50 as the 6-5 public choice. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Hot Mess Express and driver Scott Zeron take the seventh race at The Meadowlands Friday night. (Credit: Lisa Photo)