Sunday, February 18, 2024

Displaying no ill effects after a 3½-month layoff, the Jeff Cullipher-trained Lovedbythemasses put on a show Saturday night at The Meadowlands, winning the $31,500 featured Presidents’ Day Trot for open-caliber horses in powerhouse fashion.

The 7-year-old gelded son of Muscle Mass-Incredibility was making his first parimutuel start since an 8th-place finish in the $600,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot at Hoosier Park on Oct. 28. But he did qualify brilliantly on Feb. 10 in 1:55, a mile that featured a final quarter of :26.1.

“He was pretty good there last week,” said winning driver Todd McCarthy, who walked down victory lane for the first time since his return to the races last week. “I had a good feeling he would go a good mile tonight, since last week, I was slowing him down near the wire.”

Things didn’t go all that well for Lovedbythemasses from a trip perspective, so he had to rely on raw power to get the job done. When the race began, Lovedbythemasses was on the go from post seven in the field of 10, only to be stacked up three wide heading to quarter, where Nextroundsonme had the lead in :28.1.

McCarthy kept applying gas, and LBTM supplied the necessary speed, as the pair hit the half on the point in :57 as Buddy Earl, looking for a third straight score, applied pressure, setting up the pocket-sitting Toccoa Falls and the second-over Ferretti quite well.

But nearing three-quarters, which was clocked in 1:25, Lovedbythemasses started to draw away, inching clear of Buddy Earl on the far turn before opening up a 2¾-length edge on the field as they straightened away at the head of the lane. Lovedbythemasses then hit the wire 3 lengths ahead of Toccoa Falls in 1:52.3. Buddy Earl was third.

“He finished up really well, earplugs in,” said McCarthy. “He was wrapped up at the wire. Jeff has done a great job with him and he should have a really good year.”

Lovedbythemasses, who is owned by Pollack Racing, upped his lifetime stats to 28 wins from 84 starts, good for earnings of $825,276. He paid $4 to win as the even-money favorite.

CASHING CARRYOVERS: After going unhit for seven consecutive race cards, the 20-cent Pick-8 was taken down by one shrewd player who had the winning ticket that returned $32,635.06. A carryover of $19,825 coaxed bettors to put $15,077 of “new money” into the pool for a grand total of $34,902. Winner’s odds during the sequence were 5-1, 7-2, 9-1, 8-1, 3-5, 2-1, 4-1 and even-money.

The 20-cent Pick-6 started with a carryover of $22,945, motivating players to pour $84,769 of new green into the hat for a grand total of $107,714. After a sequence that saw winner’s odds of 3-5, 2-1, 4-1, even-money, 3-1 and 5-2, those with winning tickets collected $1,071.00.

Action in both 50-cent Pick-4s was vigorous. Each pool topped $100,000, totaling $212,087.

A LITTLE MORE: Dexter Dunn drove three winners to complete a six-victory weekend. Andy McCarthy equaled Dunn with three Saturday scores. … All-source handle totaled $3,505,227 on the 14-race program, upping the Big M’s streak of $3-million programs to seven. There have been 13 cards contested at The Big in 2024, and 11 times, wagering has exceeded the $3-million mark. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Lovedbythemasses and driver Todd McCarthy reign supreme in the Saturday night feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)