Bettor’s Wish overcomes eight hole to score in Sam McKee Memorial

East Rutherford, NJ — Bettor’s Wish took the lead on the backstretch and held off all challenges to win Saturday’s (Aug. 8) $229,660 Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers by a neck over Backstreet Shadow in a career best 1:47.3 at The Meadowlands. Century Farroh finished third.

Bettor’s Wish was a 1:47.3 winner in the Sam McKee Memorial. Lisa photo.

Backstreet Shadow took the lead in a :25.3 opening quarter before Bettor’s Wish charged to the front in a :52.1 half. Dancin Lou came first-over to battle Bettor’s Wish into the final turn, but Bettor’s Wish rebuffed his effort as they reached three-quarters in 1:19.4.

The job was not finished, though, as Backstreet Shadow looked to rally in the stretch, but Bettor’s Wish and driver Dexter Dunn fended him off for the victory.

“We were going pretty hard, but he’s just such a tough horse and he never gives in,” Dunn said. “He got a little tired at the end off those fractions, but he stuck his head out.

“He’s done that his whole career. He’s given 110 percent every time and put up some amazing performances. It’s a pleasure to drive him.”

Bettor’s Wish was the sport’s top earning horse in 2019, when he won 13 of 19 races and $1.64 million. He was voted the Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male pacer and was runner-up to Shartin N for Horse of the Year.

This year, the stallion has won two of five starts. He pushed his career earnings to $2.07 million. He is owned by trainer Chris Ryder, Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm and Bettor’s Wish Partners.

Bettor’s Wish, the 3-1 third choice behind 2-1 favorite Dancin Lou, paid $8.80 to win.

The Sam McKee Memorial, formerly the U.S. Pacing Championship, honors the late Meadowlands Racetrack announcer and Communicators Hall of Fame member Sam McKee, who passed away in 2017.

“It’s a great race to win,” Ryder said. “It’s hard to describe. It’s an honor to win it for Sam. I hope he’s looking down on us today.”

Sam McKee Memorial Consolation 

With open road late in the stretch, Filibuster Hanover fired past horses to land a head in front at the finish of the $61,540 Sam McKee Memorial consolation.

Our Majordan A, the 6-5 favorite, launched to the lead from post six while Jesse Duke N pushed from the pylons to race in the pocket. Filibuster Hanover sat fourth to a :25.4 first quarter and stayed put at the pylons as Our Majordan A posted middle fractions of :54 and 1:22.2.

Rounding the final turn, Donttellmeagain advanced first-over to apply with Trump Nation and Geez Joe second- and third-over. Into the stretch, Our Majordan A maintained a narrow lead as Jesse Duke N squeezed through a slim opening at the pylons to take a short mid-stretch lead before Filibuster Hanover charged past to win in the final strides in 1:49.1. Our Majordan A settled for third.

The winner sent off at odds of more than 28-1 returned $58.40. Filibuster Hanover is a 6-year-old gelding trained by Ron Burke and he was driven by Matt Kakaley. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Joseph Di Scala Jr., J&T Stables and Weaver Bruscemi.

— Ray Cotolo wrote the consolation story

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