Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Roxbury and Odds On Steno won their respective divisions of the New Jersey Garden State and New Jersey Home Grown for 2-year-olds at The Meadowlands Saturday night. The two events had a total of five dashes for combined purses of $250,000.

The Roxbury (Walner-Paint The Corners) used a typically patient drive from Hall of Famer Dave Miller to score in the second of two Garden State filly trots. The Carter Pinske trainee was kept close to the action before moving three-wide at three-quarters to get into serious contention.

The stretch drive was a heavyweight battle with The Roxbury between rivals, 7-5 favorite Walcango on the outside and Ice Cream at the rail exchanging blows nearing the finish with The Roxbury prevailing by a neck over Walcango in 1:56. Ice Cream finished third in the three-horse photo.

“She’s still a bit green, a little immature,” said Miller. “But she’s starting to get the hang of it and is becoming a racehorse. I wasn’t too worried [about where I was, racing on the outside], she felt good. I thought she had a real good shot of winning. I had to go three wide but she put a good effort in. She was still going [in deep stretch]. I felt like she was going to get there.”

The Roxbury returned $9.60 as the second choice in the betting.

Andy McCarthy gave Odds On Steno a perfect steer, and the daughter of Bettor’s Wish-Odds On St Lucie delivered an upset score for her backers as a 34-1 outsider in the Home Grown filly pace.

The Tony Alagna trainee raced in the four-hole most of the way, was able to able to advance to the pocket after the two foes in front of her vacated the pylons to go after leader – and 1-9 favorite – Blue Pacific in upper stretch, swerved off the rail to get around Blue Pacific and Miki In Luv nearing the wire and charged past that duo before holding off a fast-closing Pulp Fiction by a neck in a lifetime-best 1:52.2. Blue Pacific was third.

“It kind of worked out,” said McCarthy. “I wanted to get out there [for some early position]. She’s been good all year. I knew I had pace [in deep stretch], I just had to get out. We finally shook loose.”

Odds On Steno returned $70.80 to win.

AND THE OTHER WINNERS WERE: In a non-betting event contested before the parimutuel races, Life On The Bluf (Walner-Bluff) took the Garden State for colt and gelding trotters in a lifetime-best 1:55 for driver Dexter Dunn and trainer Lucas Wallin.

The other Garden State filly trot was taken by 16-1 chance Marg In Charge (Tactical Landing-Margie Seelster) for Dunn and Nifty Norman in a lifetime-best 1:54.2 before Wish You Well (Bettor’s Wish-Where’s Alice) scored in the Home Grown for pacing colts and geldings in 1:53 for Miller and Norman as the 1-5 public choice.

CHALK-HATERS DELIGHT: Over the course of the 28-race weekend of action, only six post-time favorites found their way to the winner’s circle (21 percent).

As a result, on Saturday, the 20-cent Pick-5 returned a hefty $5,711, the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 paid $1,730 (for five out of seven correct) and the Late 50-cent Pick-4 came back $1,216.

CARRY, CARRY: For a second straight race program, neither the 20-cent Pick-8 nor the 20-cent Pick-6 were hit, creating carryovers that continue to expand.

On Friday, the Pick-8 will start with $3,432 in the pot while the Pick-6 will offer $18,334.

TO BE CLEAR, BRADLEY: On Friday night, Bradley Chisholm recorded his first-ever driving win at The Big M. It was reported in this space that in his driving career, he has six wins. That’s true in North America, but Chisholm does have 178 wins in his native Australia.

A LITTLE MORE: Miller led the driver colony with three winners while Norman and Ron Burke led the trainers with two victories apiece. … All-source handle on the 14-race card was $3,179,544, the 52nd time during 2023 from 75 programs that betting battered the $3-million barrier. … Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.