Saturday, September 10, 2022

retender and Fashion Schooner were the winners in the first edition $275,000 finals of the New Jersey Classic for “A” level New Jersey-sired trotters Friday night at The Meadowlands.

In the split for 3-year-old colts and geldings, Pretender pulled off a surprise, taking down 1-9 favorite – and Beal winner – Temporal Hanover in a lifetime-best 1:51.3 for driver Andy McCarthy and trainer Nancy Takter.

“He’s not a very big horse,” said Takter. “But he has a very big heart.”

Only four got behind the gate, but there was plenty of action early nonetheless, as 2021 Peter Haughton Memorial winner King Of The North moved quickly to the top while Pretender settled into the two-hole as Temporal Hanover sat third and Periculum fourth.

KOTN hit the quarter in :26.3 before backing the half down to :56.1. Just before the three-quarter mark, McCarthy moved Pretender off the rail to challenge the leader as Temporal Hanover followed that live tow.

Pretender, a colt by Muscle Hill-Maven, then sprinted his final quarter in :26.3 to easily hold off Temporal Hanover by three-quarters-of-a-length. King Of The North was third.

“I thought it was going to work out that way,” said Takter. “I thought Mark (MacDonald, driving King Of The North) would be aggressive. It was just a matter of Pretender out sprinting the horse who made the front. Andy (McCarthy) drove him perfectly. Pretender will head to Canada for the (Sept. 24) Canadian Trotting Classic, and, assuming he stays well, then the (Oct. 9) Kentucky Futurity and the (Oct. 29) Breeders Crown. He’s been racing super all year and hopefully he can add to that and get some more accolades.”

As the 9-2 second choice in the betting, Pretender returned $11.40 to win while raising his lifetime earnings past the $500,000 plateau.

Fashion Schooner continued her divisional dominance, taking the NJC division for sophomore trotting fillies in 1:50.2, just a fifth of a second off her Hambletonian Oaks-winning lifetime best.

The New Jersey Sire Stakes champion upped her seasonal record to seven wins from just 10 starts. Trainer Jim Campbell’s magical 2022 continued as the daughter of Walner-Broadway Schooner upped her lifetime bankroll to $620,962.

After choosing to sit fourth to the quarter, driver Tim Tetrick, who Tuesday pushed his lifetime earnings past the $250-million mark, moved Fashion Schooner to the top with a quick burst of speed and reached the half in :56.

“With her I try to have a clear path,” said Tetrick. “Once I get her started, she kind of has a mind of her own and wants to get to where she wants to be.”

Fashion Schooner turned into the stretch two lengths to the good and appeared on the way to an easy score, but despite closing in :26.4, had to withstand a blistering final sixteenth by second-place finisher – and Hambo elimination winner – Jiggy Jog S, who came up a neck short. Raised By Lindy was third.

“That horse of Ake’s is a really good mare,” said Tetrick of Jiggy Jog S. “But we got the jump on them a little bit. My mare raced great and we got to the wire first. She kept digging, it’s just that the other horse raced really well. My horse has been pretty impressive all year long. It’s just a matter of whether she can keep her mind straight. Jim and the connections have done a great job with her.”

Fashion Schooner paid $2.40 as the 1-5 public choice.

IT’S CAMPBELL’S WORLD: Winning the NJC wasn’t enough for Campbell. His Next Level Stuff went wire-to-wire in the fifth and final $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility for open mare trotters, hitting the wire in a lifetime-best 1:50.4 to give the trainer two winners on the card.

Finishing second, 1½ lengths back, was 1-5 favorite Bella Bellini, who never threatened after going a three-hole trip.

The $100,000 (est.) Miss Versatility final takes place at the Delaware (OH) Fairgrounds on Little Brown Jug Day (Sept. 22).

DOUBLE CARRYOVER: For a second consecutive program, there were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6, setting up something players truly love, a double carryover.

Saturday’s Pick-6 carryover is $21,218.79, and none of that money is subject to the already low 15 percent takeout. The last time there was a double carryover in the Pick-6 (on April 30), there was $100,000 in “new money” poured into the pot.

The Pick-6 begins with race eight, and free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to Those with five correct on Friday collected $815.58.

A LITTLE MORE: “It’s special that I got to $250 million,” said Tetrick. “I love driving horses and, fortunately, all of my dreams have come true.” … Tetrick, Andy McCarthy, Todd McCarthy and Brian Sears all had driving doubles. … Melander, like Campbell, trained a pair to victory lane. … All-source handle totaled $2,297,168. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Pretender and driver Andy McCarthy take the New Jersey Classic final for 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters at The Meadowlands Friday night. (Credit: Lisa Photo)