Sunday, April 16, 2023

Red Right Hand and Inaminute Hanover both brought their “A” games on Saturday night, taking the co-featured pacing and trotting events, respectively, at The Meadowlands.

Facing eight top-notch opponents, Red Right Hand needed only a pair of qualifiers to be ready to score in his first parimutuel start of the year for trainer Nancy Takter, taking the $41,500 Open 2/Open 1 Handicap pace.

The 5-year-old son of Captaintreacherous-Preppy Party Girl was ready for the tough task because his trainer wanted to put a hard qualifier on him, which he did in a 1:49.4 clocking on April 7.

“I had told (driver) Scott (Zeron) that I wanted him rolled a little bit in that qualifier because I know in the races here, they are going to go fast,” said Takter. “Sometimes in the qualifiers, the drivers tend to go slow first halves and go quick back halves. It’s nice to protect your horse but sometimes they’re a little short when they go into a race because it’s not the same kind of endurance conditioning for them. He was ready to go tonight. That was a tough mile.”

Red Right Hand rolled by 2-1 favorite Workin Ona Mystery just after the quarter before yielding the point to My Pal Joe, who reached the half in :54.2 over a track rated ‘good’.

Zeron sensed the time was right when he pulled the pocket right before the three-quarter-mile marker, but had no easy task of it from there, battling through the stretch with My Pal Joe before prevailing by a hard-fought neck in 1:49.3. Komodo Beach finished third, Workin Ona Mystery fourth with Southwind Gendry, the 5-2 second choice, a never-in-it seventh while seeking a third straight win.

Red Right Hand returned $14.60 as the 6-1 fourth choice in the wagering. He now has 15 wins from 53 lifetime outings and earnings of $343,223.

One of the more consistent high-caliber trotters in training right now, Inaminute Hanover put up a sixth straight good effort at The Big M in taking the $31,500 Open 2/Open 1 Handicap trot.

“(Trainer) Jake (Huff) has done a terrific job with this horse,” said winning driver Andy McCarthy. “He’s just getting better and better, but I still think there’s room for improvement.”

Since a fourth-place finish in the feature on Feb. 18, the 5-year-old gelded son of Bar Hopping-I’m On Cloud Nine has been third or better in five Big M starts since, and now has two victories over that span.

There was a lot of action early as the horses from posts two through seven (in the seven-horse field) all left the gate hard, but McCarthy was committed to the front regardless of the early log jam.

“(When everybody left the gate) I just wanted to sit out there and wait for the dust to settle,” said McCarthy. “He’s been so good, I wanted to try him on the front, (so around the first turn) I just kept marching.”

Inaminute Hanover didn’t clear the lead until just before the three-eighths, but was nothing short of superb from there, stopping the clock in a lifetime-best 1:52.3. It was a neck back to Delayed Hanover second with 1-2 favorite It’s Academic, who was making his first start of the year, grabbing the show dough.

“There were pretty good horses chasing us through the stretch,” said McCarthy. “So I had to get after him a little bit, but halfway down the stretch I was confident enough.”

Inaminute Hanover now has 13 wins from 53 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $294,056. He paid $9.00 to win as the 7-2 second choice in the betting.

29? THAT’S FINE: All-source wagering totaled $3,165,692, keeping an impressive Big M betting streak alive.

There have been 29 Friday and Saturday night programs contested at The Meadowlands during 2023, and each one has seen betting bust the $3-million barrier.

During 2022, there were a total of 85 race cards contested at the mile oval, and betting went past the $3-million plateau 23 times.

“THE MONEY MAN” DELIVERS: It was a big night for Zeron, who blew up the tote board before taking the pacing feature.

When Zeron drives the winner of a race, the music that’s played as he returns to the winner’s circle is Pink Floyd’s “Money”, and fans of the 33-year-old pilot had plenty of it at the conclusion of the Early Daily Double after Zeron scored with 34-1 shot Blue Ocean in the first race and 28-1 chance Collector S in the second. Zeron’s following sported big smiles – and big bankrolls – as the double returned $1,172.40 for a $2 bet.

His three winners led the driver colony.

A LITTLE MORE: With Zeron paving the way with his heroics in the double, there was but one winning sold on the 20-cent Pick-5. The payout was $63,836 after the final three legs of the wager saw winner’s odds of 7-2, 9-2 and 2-5. … Takter had a training double. … A powerful thunderstorm caused a 35-minute delay before the start of the second race. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Red Right Hand and driver Scott Zeron hit the wire first in the pacing feature at The Meadowlands Saturday night. (Credit: Lisa Photo)