Saturday, June 4, 2022

The career of JL Cruze continues to write amazing chapter after amazing chapter, with the latest installment coming Friday night at The Meadowlands, when the 11-year-old gelded son of Crazed-Topcat Hall won the $18,000 feature, a high-end conditioned trot.

“He got an easy quarter and an easy half,” said trainer Eric Ell. “If he can get through that last turn, it’s tough to get by him. He’s unbelievable. Once they straighten up [in the stretch], he’ll give you everything he’s got.”

Sent to the gate as the 9-1 fourth choice in the wagering, Corey Callahan asked JL Cruze for his usual early speed, and the veteran provided just that, leading the seven-horse field past the quarter in :28.2 before rating the half back to a sleepy :58.

Cindy Michelle then came calling using a burst of speed around the far turn, and she towed 2-1 second choice Fast As The Wind into the race as the pocket-sitting even-money favorite, Delayed Hanover, was the recipient of a perfect trip.

Through the stretch, Cindy Michelle kept the heat on after actually getting a head up at the top of the lane, leaving Delayed Hanover no place to race as Fast As The Wind tipped off his cover and made a late charge at the leader, but at the wire, it was JL Cruze, aka “The King”, hanging on by a nose in 1:53.2. Fast As The Wind was second with Cindy Michelle third and Delayed Hanover fourth.

“Believe it or not, he’s as sound now as I’ve had him his whole career,” said Ell. “I still don’t like putting him on a five-eighths mile track as it lames him up. He’s had many lameness issues throughout his career, but he is sound right now. Father time is catching up to him as far as soundness. I would love to get him to $2 million [in lifetime earnings], but it gets tougher every year.”

The first horse to ever break the 1:50 barrier on the trot at The Meadowlands with a 1:49.4 clocking seven years ago, JL Cruze paid $20.20 to win. He now has 48 victories from 162 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $1,710,387 for owners W. Kenneth Wood, W.J. Dittmar and S.J. Iaquinta.

BROWER A ‘MASTERMIND’: In the first round of the “Battle of The Meadowlands Masterminds”, Dave Brower cashed three of his four wins bets and turned his $500 bankroll into $1,030 by night’s end.

The competition pits Big M handicappers in a contest where one lucky fan can walk away with $10,000 on Hambletonian Day. In addition, all five track touts are playing for charities that will get a donation regardless of where their handicapper finishes at the conclusion of the contest.

Dave Little went three-for-five and hit a pair of trifectas to walk away with $845.40. Ken Warkentin was next with $321, followed by Jessica Otten and Edison Hatter, who cashed in for $200 each.

The competition takes place every racing night through Friday, August 5. Patrons can pick the handicapper they think will have the biggest bankroll at the end of the night for a chance at $250 in prizes and a shot at the $10,000 grand prize.

For complete information, go to playmeadowlands.com.

A LITTLE MORE: One shrewd player walked away with a big score in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7. After a 5-1 shot won the opening leg of the sequence, the other six winners went off at 5-2 or less, five of them favorites. That lone winning ticket was worth $6,887.24. … All-source handle totaled $2,223,537 for the 11-race card. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: JL Cruze (inside, No. 4) and driver Corey Callahan hang on by a nose to take the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)