Saturday, June 24, 2023

It’s Academic got back into the win column after a two-race losing streak by taking the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands, a $31,500 Open Handicap for trotters.

In all six of his starts this year, the Ron Burke trainee has gone to the gate as the betting favorite, and he’s delivered in half of those races. Three starts back, he was the 7-5 public choice in the Cutler Memorial, only to get gunned down by Venerate in 1:50.1. In most recent, he ended up having too much to do when a close third as the 1-5 choice at Harrah’s Philadelphia after sitting in the three-hole until there was just a quarter-mile to go.

This time around, it was academic what driver Dave Miller had to do: Keep the 6-year-old son of Uncle Peter-Annapolis closer to the action.

In an abbreviated field of five (Amigo Volo was a late scratch), Miller had It’s Academic on the go early into the first turn, keeping stablemate – and 8-5 second choice – Lexus Kody parked to the quarter as ‘Lexus’ poked a head in front in :27.1.

Predictably, there was little movement to the half (:56.3), but on the far turn before the three-quarter-mile marker, Miller moved It’s Academic to the outside and was just a head behind as three-quarters went in 1:25.2.

When they straightened up at the head of the lane, It’s Academic grabbed the slimmest of leads, but appeared poised to outduel Lexus Kody to the wire, which he did by a safe half-length after both horses sprinted home in :26.1. The final time was 1:51.3. Swan In Motion was third.

“I like the horse a lot. He’s a great horse,” said Miller of It’s Academic. “When you get a trip like that, it’s good for later in the year. I figured Yannick would leave and I figured I’d sit on his back. I have a lot of confidence in him and was confident I was going to get by. I wasn’t asking him until halfway through the stretch when I popped the plugs and started yelling at him. Then, he trotted right off.”

Now a winner of 25-of-72 lifetime outings, It’s Academic has earned $1,447,714 for owner Brad Grant. He paid $2.80 to win as the 2-5 public choice.

A LITTLE MORE: Miller led the driver colony with three wins on the night, giving him 73 victories on the year at The Big M, good for second best behind Yannick Gingras, who has 84. … Nancy Takter trained a pair to victory lane as Hambletonian Oaks hopeful Another Like Me ($2.20 to win) and Hambletonian contender Tactical Approach ($2.40) scored in 1:52.2 and 1:51.1, respectively, both lifetime bests. … A carryover of $2,211 led to $17,390 in “new money” being wagered into the 20-cent Pick-6 pool. Those with winning tickets – after five favorites scored during the sequence – collected $809.08. … All-source wagering on the 13-race card totaled $2,612,405. … Edison Hatter clicked on a show parlay for the second time this year to win for the third straight night in the track’s “Battle of The Meadowlands Masterminds” handicapping contest. His $350 three-part parlay resulted in a total bankroll of $600 (a $100 profit) on a night when all four of the other contestants failed to hit anything on the card. Hatter has won the nightly contest four of the first seven nights and is also the overall leader with a total bankroll of just over $4,000. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: It’s Academic and driver Dave Miller score in the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)