East Rutherford, NJ — Talk about no respect. Machnhope, last seen winning the $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final at Yonkers Raceway on April 19, kept on rolling Friday night (April 30) at The Meadowlands, taking the $30,000 Winners Over/Preferred Handicap for fillies and mares on the pace in wire-to-wire fashion despite going off as the fifth choice in the betting in the six-horse field.
“I wasn’t sure how to play it,” said winning driver Andy McCarthy after being asked what was his thought process given how the extremely windy conditions favored speed all night long. “I didn’t have a plan. I saw some of the horses to my inside weren’t leaving, so I decided to step her off the gate.”
A Noel Daley trainee, Machnhope, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Hope For Life, was on the point out of the first turn and cut fractions of :27.4, :55.4 and 1:23.1 on a night that saw eight winners lead from start to finish. A challenge came down the backside from Gia’s Surreal, who won at The Big M on April 17, but Machnhope turned that one away off the far turn before sprinting clear of the field through the stretch on the way to a 2-3/4 length victory in 1:51.2. Sweet Lucy Lou rallied for second, with Major Occasion A, the 2-1 favorite, grabbing the show dough.
“On a windy night like this,” said McCarthy, “you have to follow the car out of posts five and six (Machnhope had the six) and let it break the wind for you. The Blue Chip was a tough series over there, but she’s been terrific. She felt sharp tonight warming up. I figured she’d be good.”
Machnhope, in winning for the fifth time in her last seven starts, now has 31 victories from 105 career starts. Her bankroll stands at a gaudy $536,394 for owners Deo Volente Farms, Thomas Pontone, L.A. Express Stable and Daley. She paid $12.20 to win after going to the gate at odds of 5-1.
Long Layoff, No Problem: With the COVID-19 shutdown continuing in Ontario, several drivers have moved their tacks temporarily to The Big M. One pilot, making his first appearance at the mile oval since 2016, was James MacDonald, who scored wire-to-wire in the first race with 3-5 favorite Majestic Virgin.
Last weekend, two other Woodbine Mohawk Park regulars, Bob McClure and Doug McNair, recorded their first Meadowlands victories of the meeting. McNair added to his total by guiding a pair to victory lane Friday.
Fabulous Friday: All-source wagering totaled $3,516,276, the biggest night of business at The Big M this year on a Friday. It marked the ninth consecutive card to see betting break the $3 million barrier.
Favorites continue to score at a high rate, as over the last six race cards, 41 post-time choices have won the 78 races (53 percent).
With a carryover of just under $10,000, the total pool in the 20-cent Pick-6 was $56,611. Those with winning tickets cashed in for $1,467.06 after odds-on choices took the first, second and sixth legs of the bet.
Gates open at 9 a.m. at The Big M for Kentucky Derby Day. The first race at Churchill Downs goes at 10:30 a.m. The Derby, race 12 on the 14-race card, is slated for 6:57 p.m.
Live harness racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.