Sunday, February 11, 2024

The hottest horse anywhere put another beating on his foes Saturday night at The Meadowlands, as the amazing Oakwood Ardan IR registered his fifth consecutive victory at the mile oval, stopping the clock in a lifetime-best 1:50.2 on an unseasonably comfortable winter evening.

The Robert Cleary-trained Irish bred was racing in Great Britain in mid-September of last year before returning to The States and qualifying in impressive fashion at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Nov. 28 in 1:56.4. He then added Lasix for his next charted line – a fourth-place finish in a “Q” at The Big M – on Dec. 9.

And then the fun began.

The 5-year-old gelded son of Sweet Lou-Trend Setter reeled off four wins in a row before nabbing one for the thumb Saturday night.

“We’ll take every week as it comes,” said Cleary. “We’ll enter him in whatever class he fits. We don’t want to stretch him out too much. He’s been really good so far.”

In the early going Saturday, driver Andy McCarthy had Oakwood Ardan IR in a spot where he’s been prospering for the last two months, sitting off the pace, in fourth, as Gretzky The Great hit the quarter in :27.2 before yielding the point to 7-1 second choice Sheer Terror, who led at the half in :55.4.

Century Inspector was then activated from the three-hole and moved toward the leader with a rush, providing the ultimate tow for the 1-20 favorite, as Oakwood Ardan IR set up shop second-over while Sheer Terror went three-quarters in 1:24.1.

Showing zero ill effects from a three-week layoff, McCarthy tipped Oakwood Ardan IR off his cover just after the field straightened up and blew past his defenseless foes as McCarthy sat quietly in the sulky. Oakwood Ardan IR won the $17,500 winners of two but not more than four for pacers by 1¼ lengths. Sheer Terror and Gretzky The Great both raced well, finishing second and third, respectively.

“Professional. I think that’s the perfect word for this horse,” said McCarthy. “He does everything you want him to do. He wants to go to work. It’s been a lot of fun so far. Cleary’s done a great job with him. [In deep stretch] He definitely had a lot more in the tank. This horse, he’s pretty exciting.”

“In the wintertime, the competition is not as tough,” said a cautious Cleary. “I want to keep our feet on the ground and see how far he takes us.”

Oakwood Ardan IR, sent to the gate for a fourth straight outing as an odds-on favorite, returned $2.10 to win after registering his 14th career win from just 33 attempts.

IT’S HOT IN BOCA: Another remarkable performer of late at The Big M is the Dan Morrissey-trained Odds On Boca Raton. A winner at the $7,500 claiming level on Jan. 19, the 8-year-old gelded son of Captaintreacherous-Captiva Island ran his win streak to four after closing like a shot to take a $20,000-$30,000 claiming handicap pace in 1:51.3 as the 5-1 third choice with Corey Callahan in the bike.

SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT: All-source handle totaled $3,456,865 on the 14-race card, keeping Big M business on Saturday night rolling. Over the last three Saturday programs, a total of $10,867,859 has been pushed through the windows, good for an average of $3,622,619 per card.

A LITTLE MORE: The 20-cent Pick-8 failed to yield a winning ticket for a sixth straight card, upping the carryover to $13,550 for Friday. Those with seven correct selections did well, collecting $1,731.78. … Friday will be fun for multi-leg carryover lovers as the 20-cent Pick-6 also went unhit. The carryover will be $4,641. Those with five correct got back $117.04. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Oakwood Ardan IR wins his fifth straight at The Meadowlands Saturday night with Andy McCarthy doing the driving. (Credit: Lisa Photo)