Buy A Round seeks NJSS title repeat

Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ — Buy A Round will be looking to make it a double this weekend at The Meadowlands.

A New Jersey Sire Stakes champion last year at age 2, the Noel Daley-trained filly will go for her second title Friday when she faces nine rivals in this season’s $240,000 final for 3-year-old female trotters. All 10 finalists are eligible to the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks on Aug. 3 at the Big M.

On the boys’ side, returning Dan Patch Award-winner Karl is the 1-5 morning-line favorite in the $240,000 NJSS championship for 3-year-old male trotters. Nine of the 10 finalists in that race are eligible to the $1 million Hambletonian, also Aug. 3 at The Meadowlands.

Buy A Round won her first NJSS prelim by three-quarters of a length over Volcanic Blue Chip in 1:55.1. Lisa photo.

Buy A Round enters Friday’s start having hit the board in all 11 of her career races, winning seven and earning $378,100 for breeder/owner Frederick Hertrich III. She will leave from post eight with driver Andy McCarthy and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.

Spy Coast, who is 3-for-3 this year and won her two NJSS prelims by a total of 5-1/4 lengths for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke, is the 5-2 favorite. She will leave from post three.

Buy A Round won her first NJSS prelim by three-quarters of a length over Volcanic Blue Chip in 1:55.1, then was second in the second round as Glamorous Hanover posted a 1:52.3 victory. Buy A Round was fifth for most of the mile before rallying for second with a race-best :26.4 last quarter.

“She’s been very good,” Daley said about the daughter of Walner-On Your Tab. “She just got a little too far out of it last week. She’s very versatile, (McCarthy) can really do what he wants with her, he just didn’t want to come first-over with her. He got stuck behind one that was too far back, and they just got away from her last week. I’m sure he won’t be as far back with her this week.”

In addition to winning last year’s NJSS championship, Buy A Round won divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes, as well as her elimination for the Breeders Crown. She was third in the Breeders Crown final, beaten by a neck.

As for the group the filly will face Friday, Daley said, “They’re a strong group.”

“Personally, I think Buy A Round is the best of them, but definitely not dominant there,” he said. “Any of a handful can win with the right trip.”

Joe Bongiorno drove Miss I La twice last year, including winning a preliminary round of the Kindergarten Classic Series. Lisa photo.

One of the handful includes Daley’s second participant in the race, Miss I La. She was second in both of her NJSS prelims. The daughter of Walner-Southwind Venus will have Joe Bongiorno in the sulky on Friday, leaving from post two. The Ken Jacobs-owned filly is 12-1 on the morning line.

Bongiorno drove Miss I La twice last year, winning a preliminary round of the Kindergarten Classic Series and finishing fourth from post 10 in the event’s final.

“She’s improving, and she will keep getting better, I think,” Daley said. “She has been excellent to deal with here at home. She does everything right. Right now, she’s probably not quite as fast as Buy A Round, but she’s beautiful to drive. She can definitely trip out and surprise there.

“We might make a few changes on her. I might close her up a little bit, I might even take some shoes off her, just to help her a little bit, give her that little extra. I think if you can time it right where you just have a short, sharp, burst at them, she will sprint with them. I think barring something crazy going wrong, Buy A Round and Miss I La will both be in the picture there.”

Daley captured both NJSS championships for 2-year-old trotters in 2023, with Sig Sauer winning the event for the boys. Daley opted to skip this year’s NJSS with the colt as he looks ahead to the Hambletonian.

Last year, Sig Sauer won his first four races before going off stride in the fifth, a division of the Bluegrass Stakes. It was his final start of the campaign. This past Saturday, the son of Muscle Hill-Sigilwig took his first steps toward his return by winning a qualifier in 1:55.3 at The Meadowlands.

“I was in two minds whether to have him ready for the sire stakes; I decided not to,” Daley said. “I’ve basically decided, all things being good, to go into the Hambo on his fourth or fifth start. We decided to forego doing battle this early in the piece with Karl.

“I was very happy with him at The Meadowlands (Saturday). He seemed like he had a few manners there, which was good because he can be a little tough to deal with.”

Karl, the No. 1-ranked horse in Meadowlands analyst/announcer Ken Warkentin’s “Road to the Hambletonian,” is a nose from being unbeaten in 12 career races. He did not participate in last year’s NJSS, but won the Breeders Crown, Valley Victory Stakes, Kindergarten Classic Series final, a division of the Bluegrass, and the Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series.

After winning his two NJSS prelims this year by a total of 10-3/4 lengths, the son of Tactical Landing-Avalicious will leave from post seven Friday with Gingras driving for trainer Nancy Takter. He has earned $1.07 million lifetime for owner Christina and Nancy Takter, Black Horse Racing, Crawford Farms Racing, and Bender Sweden Inc.

Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT) at The Meadowlands. For free TrackMaster programs for the Big M, click here.

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