Sunday, April 3, 2022

Shvaiko needed a little bit of luck to take the $23,000 feature at The Meadowlands Saturday night, and once he got it, he defeated a talented field in a non-winners of $20,000 pace in a lifetime-best 1:49.1.

On a night that was kind to horses racing on or near the lead, driver Todd McCarthy – who guided four winners on the evening – left the gate like a blur with the 5-year-old gelded son of Art Major-Grace K and grabbed the point around the first turn before yielding to a headstrong Ana Afreet N (who hit the quarter in :27) who then yielded to I’m A Big Deal before the half (:55.2).

“I was happy to get away third,” said McCarthy. “He leaves like a Ferrari.”

I’m A Big Deal still had the lead at three-quarters (1:22.2) but had been hounded down the backside by Fabrizio N, who pressed the leader from the half to the far turn. McCarthy and Shvaiko were still sitting third at the rail when they turned for home, but a good decision and some good fortune would then play a big part in the outcome.

When Ana Afreet N rallied along the inside to come after I’m A Big Deal, who was bearing out while tiring, Shvaiko then found just enough room to Ana Afreet N’s inside to get the win by a neck in a thrilling finish. Ana Afreet N finished second with I’m A Big Deal third.

“(In the stretch) a couple of the ones on the outside were getting tired,” said McCarthy. “It was a matter of which way was I going to go. We got lucky and never had to leave the rail.”

Shvaiko, who paid $6.20 as the 2-1 favorite in the field of nine, recorded his 13th career win from 33 starts. The Scott Betts trainee has now earned $113,967 for owners T. Betts, Tar Heel Racing, S. Moss and Lone Wolf Stable.

THAT’S A HALF-DOZEN, COUSIN: Wagering surpassed the $3-million plateau for a third straight program – and sixth over the last 11 – as all-source action on the 13-race card totaled $3,243,536. Wagering for the weekend was just over $6.3 million.

IT WAS A GOOD RUN: For the first time this year, driver Yannick Gingras failed to win a race on a Meadowlands program. He had recorded at least one victory on the first 22 cards of 2022.

A LITTLE MORE: Dexter Dunn stayed hot by guiding three horses to victory lane. … Despite favorites winning each of the last four races, the 20-cent Pick-6 returned $2,086.30. … Both 50-cent Pick-4s took in just over $95,000 in action, with payoffs that were opposites to say the least. The Early P4 returned $1,658.35 while the Late P4 came back $33.90. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: Shvaiko and driver Todd McCarthy sneak up the inside to take the Saturday night feature at The Meadowlands. McCarthy would finish the card with four winners. (Credit: Lisa Photo)