East Rutherford, NJ — Pulling off upsets are Cruzado Dela Noche’s specialty, so when he won Saturday night’s (May 4) $175,200 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free for all trotters at The Meadowlands at odds of 8-1, it didn’t come as a shock to his driver Brian Sears.
“I was pretty confident,” said Sears. “I wasn’t concerned that it was his first start since November since he hadn’t raced in three or four months before the International Trot.”
In Yonkers Raceway’s International last October, Cruzado Dela Noche and Sears pulled off a 30-1 shocker, and like in the Cutler, never spent a moment at the rail.
Half of the bulky 12-horse field was away from the gate quickly in the 1-1/8 mile Cutler, and after they settled in after the quarter, Trolley was on the point, I Know My Chip was in the pocket, and Yes Mickey was first over, providing perfect cover for Cruzado Dela Noche.
As Yes Mickey continued to inch closer to the leader at the three-quarters, Cruzado Dela Noche got himself into position to pounce three-wide as they straightened away at the head of the stretch. With confident handling from Sears, Cruzado Dela Noche made his way past Trolley nearing the wire to record a half-length score. Will Take Charge rallied for third. Pinkman, the 8-5 favorite, raced along the rail and never had a chance, finishing seventh (placed sixth).
The time for the added distance of 1-1/8 miles was 2:07.3.
“This horse has raced in Europe all his life,” said Sears. “So he’s good with the distance. He’s got enough stamina to put himself in play and we were never really used that hard. He’s easy on himself.”
As the fifth choice in the wagering, Cruzado Dela Noche, who is trained by Marcus Melander, returned $19.00 to his backers. He’s now won 16 of 60 career outings, good for earnings of $1,295,739 for owner Courant A B of Stockholm, Sweden.
Graduates Impress: The first leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old open pacers had a pair of $50,000 divisions on the Saturday undercard.
Lather Up ($13.20 to win as the third choice) was explosive late to score in 2:02.4 for the 1-1/8 mile distance in the first division while 2018 Meadowlands Pace champion Courtly Choice ($3.60 as the favorite) went parked for the final five-eighths on the way to taking the second division in 2:01.4.
Both were making their first starts of the year.
A Little More: After a slow start at the windows with the Kentucky Derby inquiry delaying the start of the card, betting gathered momentum as the night wore on, and when the action was tallied, all-source handle stood at $3,273,805, the ninth time this year wagering at the Big M exceeded the magic $3 million mark.
Tim Tetrick guided three winners on the card, giving him seven victories over the weekend.
Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.