Sunday, February 4, 2024

When last seen in the winner’s circle at The Meadowlands, Rich And Miserable had just beaten open-class horses in 1:52.4.

But that was a long time ago.

On Saturday night, against high-end conditioned trotters, the 9-year-old gelded son of Explosive Matter-Wishful Me nabbed his first Big M win since March 4 of last year in determined fashion, stopping the clock in 1:55.1 to record his 50th lifetime victory from 158 starts.

Rich And Miserable was on the go early in the six-horse field (there was one scratch) and took the two-hole into the first turn behind Nextroundsonme. After Nextroundsonme stopped the clock at the quarter in :28.1, driver Jim Pantaleano quickly moved Rich And Miserable to the top at the three-eighths before reaching the half in a leisurely :57.

Toccoa Falls, the 3-5 favorite, was now activated from the three-hole and went into attack mode, catching up to and racing alongside the leader at three-quarters, which went in 1:26.3. But Rich And Miserable shrugged that one off with ease with an eighth to go before holding off Nextroundsonme, who closed well very late along the inside to miss a neck. Sidd Finch rallied for third while Toccoa Falls was fourth.

“I just kind of let the horse drive himself because he’s really good at it,” said Pantaleano after explaining that the front end wasn’t necessarily what he had in mind. “He just knows what he’s doing and he knows where the wire is. He likes his job an awful lot.”

As the 4-1 second choice in the betting, Rich And Miserable, a Todd Buter trainee, returned $10.60 to win. He lifted his lifetime bankroll to $816,194 for owners Buter Farm and Lynette Buter.

A LITTLE MORE: Jordan Stratton was the star of the driver colony with four victories. Andy McCarthy was right behind him with a three-bagger. … Action on the 14-race card was fast and furious for a second consecutive Saturday, as a total of $3,631,898 was put in play, the second biggest handle of the year. Last Saturday, the total wager was $3.77 million. Thus far in 2024, handle has surpassed $3 million seven times from just nine programs. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Rich And Miserable takes the Saturday night feature at The Meadowlands with Jim Pantaleano at the controls. (Credit: Lisa Photo)