Concert @ MetLife Stadium 5/17 & 5/18. Please allow for extra travel time.


Saturday, April 13, 2024

NJ – On a Friday night at The Meadowlands that required a lot of hat-holding, where wind gusts surged as high as 33 miles an hour, Just A Rocket Man and Paige Perfect completed three-race sweeps of their respective TrackMaster Series for pacers.

‘The Rocket’, who won the first two legs of the series for those with a rating of 71 or less after unhurried beginnings, was explosive from the start this time around, quickly making the top before completing the first turn, and was able to establish a sleepy early pace, hitting the quarter in :29 and half in :57.

“He’s super sharp right now,” said winning driver Braxten Boyd. “And some great trips have helped the last couple of weeks. The wind kind of helped me get that cheap :29 first quarter, and after that, I thought it’d be tough to catch him.”

Just A Rocket Man was able to maintain calm after the half, reaching three-quarters in 1:25.3 while never being pressed on the point, and that left a :27 final quarter in his gas tank to complete an easier-than-it-looked-in-the-chart neck score in 1:52.3, a new lifetime best for the 6-year-old gelded son of He’s Watching-Justanother Day. Baileys Rock N was second with Native Chief third.

“I couldn’t be happier for my friend [trainer] Brian [Quevedo],” said Boyd. “He just got his license and has been working very hard.”

Owned by the 20-year-old Quevedo, Just A Rocket Man returned $5.80 to win as the 9-5 favorite. He now has 16 wins from 110 lifetime starts.

Paige Perfect, off consecutive preliminary wins from well back after starting from post 10, was kept a little closer to the action from post three in the final for fillies and mares who had a rating of 73.5 or less. The 4-year-old daughter of Always B Miki-Miss Jones got up at the wire to score by a nose in 1:52.3, a lifetime best.

Sitting fourth along the rail as Rags To Riches cut out the quarter in :27.2 and half in :56.1, Paige Perfect picked up cover from Miss Italia as that one vacated the three-hole with three-eighths-of-a-mile to go as Rags To Riches took them past three-quarters in 1:25.3.

Through the stretch, Miss Italia moved to the lead, but Paige Perfect had just enough time to get past that foe after tipping off cover with a strong rally in deep stretch to record her third victory in as many 2024 starts. Our Shell Belle rallied for third.

“If I got away as far back as the first two starts, then something went very wrong,” said winning driver Marcus Miller with a laugh. “I definitely wanted to be closer tonight. As far as the trip, I thought everything went as well as it could have. I was able to let David [Miller, driving Miss Italia] tow me and I needed all of the stretch to get there. But one thing she’s good at is pacing through the lane. She feels fresh. Her final quarter was :26.3, and that shows me she has a lot of ability.”

After scoring at odds of 23-1 and 11-1 in the first two legs, Paige Perfect was sent to the gate as the 3-5 favorite and returned $3.40 to win for trainer Bruce Saunders and owner Julie R. Nash.

A LITTLE MORE: The 20-cent Pick-5 got a jolt in its opening leg with a 36-1 winner, leading to a payoff of $10,804.44. … A carryover of just over $8,000 led to more than $30,000 in “new money” being wagered into the 20-cent Pick-6 for a total pool of $39,847, but five winning favorites and a 2-1 shot later, those who collected walked away with just $103.76. … David Miller led the driver colony with three victories on the night. … All-source handle totaled $3,250,330 on the 14-race program, the 24th time this year from 28 race cards that betting bettered the $3-million barrier. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Just A Rocket Man and driver Braxten Boyd won the TrackMaster Series final for pacers with a rating of 71 or less Friday night at The Meadowlands. (Credit: Lisa Photo)