Sunday, March 10, 2024

Making his 2024 debut, the Nancy Takter-trained Red Right Hand held off harness racing’s hottest horse, Oakwood Ardan IR, on a ridiculously rain-soaked Saturday night at The Meadowlands in a thrilling $18,000 featured high-end conditioned pace.

“He’s usually good off a layoff,” said winning driver Yannick Gingras. “I thought the qualifier last week [a win in 1:54.4] was really, really sharp. The horse that he beat in the qualifier, Linedrive Hanover, came back and qualified in [1:]50[.4] earlier today, so I thought my horse was the one to beat and he raced great.”

He needed to be great to beat Oakwood Ardan IR, who came into the night seeking a seventh consecutive victory for the team of driver Andy McCarthy and trainer Robert Cleary.

And he was.

Red Right Hand was in the early fray from post four in the eight-horse field, and appeared willing to tuck behind early leader Rockin On Venus before Gingras opted to go on with it, clearing to the lead at the three-eighths after a quick opening fraction of :27.

Gingras was able to rate the second fraction as the half went in :55.3 while 3-5 favorite Oakwood Ardan IR was sitting sixth along the rail. Dragononthebeach, so valiant in a second-place finish a week ago, was now put in motion from the three-hole by Jason Bartlett, which created a live flow on the rim as Oakwood Ardan IR started to rally from third-over.

Dragononthebeach was at the throat of Red Right Hand at three-quarters, which was timed in 1:24. The battle between the top two was on, and in mid-stretch, Red Right Hand finally shrugged off Dragononthebeach, but then had to contend with Oakwood Ardan IR, who looked as if he was shot from a cannon on the far outside. He came up just short, as Red Right Hand won it by a fast-diminishing neck in 1:50.3 over a ‘sloppy’ track with a -2 variant. Dragononthbeach finished third.

“I did expect him to be this good,” said Gingras. “Of course, Andy’s horse has been crazy good, so you don’t know how far back he was going to be and if he was going to be able to reach.

“I was happy with my horse. I saw Andy coming but I didn’t know how far back he was. That’s what I told him after the wire, that he must have been coming from nowheresland. Yeah, I saw him coming, but, thankfully, the wire was coming, too.”

A 6-year-old son of Captaintreacherous-Preppy Party Girl who is owned by Christina Takter, Nancy Takter & Jaf Racing, Joe Sbrocco and R A W Equine Inc., Red Right Hand returned $9.60 to his backers as the 7-2 second choice in the wagering. He’s now won 18 of 75 lifetime starts and earned $442,721.

CARRY ON: There will be a pair of carryovers to titillate the pallets of multi-leg players on Friday night.

The 20-cent Pick-8, which paid out $437.24 to those with seven winning selections, will start out with $6,980.20 up for grabs, while the 20-cent Pick-6, which returned $121.30 to those with five winners, will begin with $6,535.74 in the hat.

TOTE PROBLEMS: Due to major parimutuel betting platform problems, wagering at not just The Meadowlands, but throughout North America, was severely diminished. Action on The Big M’s 14-race program totaled $2,662,641.

A LITTLE MORE: Jordan Stratton led the driver colony with three strolls down victory lane. … Annie Stoebe (Alta Blues A, race five, $10.60 to win) and Devan Miller (Beach Vibes, race seven, $7.40) were the winning drivers in the two races that featured all-female pilots as part of The Big M’s International Women’s Day celebration. Jenna Otten joined sister Jessica on the live broadcast while Dawnelle Mock handled back paddock interviews. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Red Right Hand won the Saturday night feature at The Meadowlands. Yannick Gingras was in the sulky. (Credit: Lisa Photo)