Saturday, May 13, 2023

McMarkle Sparkle started her season with 11 starts at Yonkers Raceway, and held her own by winning twice, but Per Engblom shipped his trainee to The Meadowlands Friday night and the move to the mile track paid off with a victory in the featured $17,000 high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares.
In the abbreviated six-horse field, slight 8-5 favorite Jody was predictably put on the point by driver Yannick Gingras and hit the quarter in :27 and the half in :55.1 as McMarkle Sparkle bided her time in the three-hole.
Heading for three-quarters, Laurie Lee was making up ground on the rim and applied token pressure to Jody as three-quarters was timed in 1:24.1 while McMarkle Sparkle advanced along the inside with no place to race.
At the head of the stretch, it was clear that Laurie Lee wasn’t going to get to the winner, but McMarkle Sparkle was behind 8-5 second choice Hot Mess Express, who was backing up with no excuse after going a pocket trip.
Winning driver Andy McCarthy saved the day with a sparkling drive through the stretch, finding some space once he got around an exhausted Hot Mess Express before darting to the inside to nip Jody by a head in 1:51.3. Two Proud was third.
“I just wanted to push off the gate and get away third, and that’s how it happened,” said McCarthy. “She was loaded on the far turn. She had a ton of pace. I just needed some room, and when I squeezed out of there, she did have some pace. I finally got a chance to get her head down and get her to pace properly.”
As the 6-1 fourth choice in the betting, McMarkle Sparkle, a 6-year-old daughter of McArdle-It’s Ladies Nite, returned $14.80 to win. She’s now taken 28-of-101 lifetime outings and earned just over $590,000 for owner Laura Baker.
THE STREAK ENDS: With half of the 14 races on the program offering seven betting interests or less, all-source wagering totaled $2,640,691, ending The Big M’s streak of 34 consecutive nighttime programs during 2023 that saw handle exceed the $3-million mark.
A LITTLE MORE: Ron Burke was the guest on the track’s “In the Sulky” segment during the pregame show, and if you missed it, you can catch it anytime on The Big M’s YouTube channel. … Scott Zeron led the driver colony with three victories on the card. … The 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 remains a great play. Five favorites emerged victorious during the sequence, yet those with winning tickets cashed in for $3,481.60. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. with seven $30,000 divisions of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds serving as the marquee events.

PHOTO: McMarkle Sparkle and driver Andy McCarthy take the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)