Sunday, March 26, 2023

In an absolute thriller, Whole Lotta Lou proved up to the task of taking the Saturday night pacing feature at The Meadowlands while bumping up in class, extending his win streak to three after some marvelous handling from Hall of Fame driver Dave Miller.

The $23,000 high-end TrackMaster 92.4 event featured a rematch of last week’s marquee dash, when Mike’s Z Tam gunned down Carbine after sitting an ideal pocket trip. This time around, things panned out differently, as Livinthebeachlife ripped out of three hole in the seven-horse field and took the field past the quarter in a quick :26.1 over a track rated ‘sloppy’ on a night that saw a miserable light rain during the early part of the card that led to a 45-minute delay before the start of the fifth race.

Carbine went after the leader and grabbed the point at the three-eighths before Mike’s Z Tam, the 4-5 favorite, took over, hitting the half in a blazing :53.3.

Miller, ever his patient self, had Whole Lotta Lou racing last in the field early but advanced to sit fourth along the rail down the backside as the outer flow developed after three horses directly in front of him vacated the inside.

Three-quarters was reached in 1:22.1, but Mike’s Z Tam was resilient, continuing on the lead through the stretch. Nearing the wire, Livinthebeachlife was back for more splitting rivals charging at the leader while Miller and Whole Lotta Lou were in high gear along the pylons. After the judges examined a tight win photo, Whole Lotta Lou was the winner by a nose in 1:50.3, with Livinthebeachlife second and Mike’s Z Tam a close-up third.

“He’s been very impressive,” said winning trainer Stacy Chiodo of Whole Lotta Lou, who has now won four of his last five. “I went ahead and changed his equipment to an open bridle (one start before he started winning). It’s that simple. I think he’s going to get next week off and then we’ll go from there. Dave did a great job with him. He’s a very handy horse.”

A 5-year-old gelded son of Sweet Lou-Ideal Love, Whole Lotta Lou returned $46.00 to win as the 22-1 sixth choice in the wagering. He’s won five-of-11 this year and 11-of-43 lifetime, good for earnings of $136,610 for owners Timothy Tobias Stable.

‘BOND’ PAYS OFF: Eurobond went gate to wire to pick up his third win in his last four starts for trainer Travis Alexander, taking the featured trot, which was a high-end conditioned race with a purse of $23,000.

The 8-year-old son of Love You-True Diva stopped the clock in 1:53.1 and returned $22.80 as the 10-1 fifth choice in the betting.

“He felt good tonight,” said winning driver Andy McCarthy. “He’s a little tricky sometimes because he has a little bit of a funky gait, but once we got through the first turn, we were good.”

CARRYOVER CRAZED: There was plenty of action in two of the track’s popular multi-leg wagers thanks to carryovers from Friday’s card.

The first 20-cent Pick-5 carryover of 2023 got underway in the first race with $47,294 in the hat, motivating the betting public to pour $223,252 in “new money” into the pool for a grand total of over $270,000. After a sequence that saw winner’s odds of 10-1, 6-5, 5-2, 4-1 and 4-1, those with winning tickets were paid $1,924.24.

Despite a modest carryover of a little more than $6,000, after new money was added to the 20-cent Pick-6, the total pool swelled to $63,822. Winner’s odds for the sequence were 8-5, 1-1, 22-1, 7-5, 12-1 and 5-1, and for a single winning ticket sold on the Oregon Express hub, the reward was a gigantic $55,162.82.

INCREDIBLE ACTION: During the entire 85-program racing season of 2022, handle at The Big M topped the magic $3-million mark 23 times, a good number by any measure.

But 2023 has seen betting that’s been nothing short of explosive.

After Saturday’s 14-race card saw $3,444,415 put in play, it gave The Meadowlands an extremely envious record for the year.

There have been 23 Friday and Saturday night programs conducted at The Big M during 2023, and every one of them has seen wagering exceed the $3-million plateau.

With 65 programs remaining this year (there were two Sunday afternoon cards conducted during January), The Big M has already matched the number of $3-million handles this year that it had all of last year.

A LITTLE MORE: Miller had four winners on the Saturday card to complete a seven-winner weekend. … Yannick Gingras, who did not drive at The Big M Friday, matched Miller’s Saturday four bagger. The 43-year-old Hall of Famer has won 37 times over his last 14 Big M cards and leads the driver colony for the year with 52 victories. Miller is second with 45. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Whole Lotta Lou (inside, purple colors, No. 6) has a nose up at the wire in the Saturday night pacing feature at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)