East Rutherford, NJ — Dover Downs shipper Highalator rose to the top of the horse colony at the Meadowlands by putting together a pair of dominant wins, but his quest for a third straight score was thwarted by another Dover invader in the Big M’s Saturday (April 13) night feature, the $30,000 Preferred for pacers.
Sweet Rock, a Wayne Givens trainee who shipped in from Delaware off a pair of hard-fought wins, got a perfect ground-saving trip and pulled off a 24-1 upset, and in the process, became the fastest performer in the sport this year when he stopped the clock in 1:48.1.
The script played out differently than expected as a group of leavers left 4-5 favorite Highalator four-wide into the first turn. Driver Richard Still opted to take back and sit a three-hole to the quarter as Sunfire Blue Chip hit the first split in :26.
Another Dover invader, Bags To Riches, had designs on the lead, but Sunfire Blue Chip was not in a yielding frame of mind and parked that foe to the half in :53. At three-quarters, Bags To Riches started to back out of it as the pocket-sitting New Talent took second. Highalator was now second-over and swung three wide around a struggling Bags To Riches while Sweet Rock and driver Dexter Dunn sat in the three-hole.
After hitting three-quarters in 1:21.1, Sunfire Blue Chip was done for the night. Highalator was in full flight on the outside while Sweet Rock was closing along the pylons after New Talent had angled off the rail. In deep stretch, it would be Sweet Rock, the eighth choice in the nine-horse field, grabbing the lead and holding off Highalator – who went a huge mile – by a half-length. New Talent held third.
Sweet Rock, an 8-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover-Penny For Nickel, returned $51.00 to his appreciative backers while lowering his previous lifetime-best by one-and-one-fifth seconds. For his career, he now has 31 wins from 169 starts and earnings of $719,106 for owners Legacy Racing of Delaware, Reginald Hazzard II and Gary Calloway.
BETTING REACHES $3 MILLION: Players who don’t care for favorites bet with both hands all night long, as no post-time choices hit the winner’s circle after 3-5 chance Abigail Dawn took the first race. All-source wagering exceeded the magic $3-million mark for the sixth time this year, as $3,025,740 was pushed through the windows during the 13-race card.
A LITTLE MORE: Dunn, Yannick Gingras and Dave Miller all drove three winners on the program while Chris Ryder had a training double. … Blood Line made his seasonal debut a winning one, gunning down 2-5 shot Wheels On Fire in the second race high-range conditioned pace. Wheels On Fire had won two weeks ago in 1:49.1, at the time the fastest Big M mile of the year. … Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. as the fifth edition of the Can-Am Pick-4 will take center stage.