from Meadowlands Media Relations
Mr Muscleman, the 2004 Older Trotter of the Year, opened his 2005 season with a winning effort in the seventh race, the first of two $50,000 Su Mac Lad divisions, on Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands.
In the second division, the ninth race, Don Boss Vita [$6.60, $3.80, $3.00] won the stretch battle with Mohammed Mali [$3.00, $2.40] for a neck victory.
The top 10 money-earners in the series advance to the $154,200 Su Mac Lad Final on Sunday, April 10.
Ron Pierce sent Mr Muscleman [$6.20, $3.80, $3.20] first up into the turn for home to challenge Chucaro Ahijuna [$3.80, $3.20], going on to win by a half-length in 1:53.3 on a track rated sloppy. Hurri Kane Billy G [$4.00] closed for third, four and three-quarter lengths back.
Dink Adoo’s winning streak was snapped at 10 when he broke stride mid-backstretch and finished ninth.
Mr Muscleman, trained by Noel Daley and racing for Adam Victor & Son Stable of New York City, pushed his career earnings over $1.9 million with the victory.
Don Boss Vita, making his first start in 10 months, trotted the mile in 1:55.2 with the surface upgraded to good.
Hunt M Down [$9.20], who followed Don Boss Vita on the outer tier, got up to finish third by a length and three-quarters.
For Don Boss Vita, driven by Brian Sears and trained by Virginia Louthan, the victory was his fifth in a row but first since June 4, 2004. The six-year-old son of Donerail, owned by Alvin Beiler of Felton, Delaware, had been sidelined with a suspensory injury.
Both Brian Sears, driving Red Bullet, and Ron Pierce, with Armbro Tristen, emerged without any serious injuries from a mishap in the fourth race on Sunday. Both were unseated and had some bruising and scrapes but were cleared to drive. Rare Gem, who broke and initiated the chain reaction, was pulled up and did not finish. Both Hearty Vintage and Herb Albert were interfered with as well and broke stride.
Hall of Famer Cat Manzi won three of the first five races on Sunday, capturing the second race with Redstone Ruckus [$8.40], the third race with Flame [$20.60] and the fifth race with Silver Street [$10.60]. Manzi picked up his fourth win of the day in the tenth race with longshot Legend Hall [$35.40].
JIM LANG CAPTURES INAUGURAL NATIONAL HARNESS HANDICAPPING CHAMPIONSHIP
Jim Lang of Cohoes, New York, earned the $50,000 grand prize and the title of “National Harness Handicapping Champion” in the sport’s first national handicapping tournament held at the Meadowlands Racetrack on Saturday, April 2.
Lang, a 47-year-old equipment recovery manager for Time Warner Cable, finished the tournament with a bankroll of $812. He earned his entry into the National Harness Handicapping Championship after finishing second in Capital OTB’s qualifier on March 11.
Lang grew up in Kingston, New York, and attended the races at nearby Yonkers and Monticello racetracks. A racing fan in the truest sense, Lang has logged a lot of miles attending many of the sport’s most prestigious races, including the Little Brown Jug, Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot and Cane Pace. His local track is now Saratoga Harness, but he heads to the Meadowlands about once a month with friends.
“My friend, Doug, talked me into entering Capital’s qualifier and I came in second, beating the third-place finisher by 20 cents,” Lang said. “The way this tournament [the NHHC Final] was set up, with $20 bets per race, I thought I would have a shot.”
The contest format required contestants to bet 10 races. Five were mandatory races from selected NHHC partner tracks – the Meadows, Northfield Park, Woodbine, Balmoral Park and Cal-Expo. Players chose five additional partner outlet races after high winds and torrential rains forced the cancellation of the Meadowlands card. Bets had to be exactly $20 per race and only on one horse per race and could either be win, place or a combination of the two.
The turning point in the contest for Lang came in the ninth race at Woodbine. He bet $20 to win on Buckeye One, who paid $67.60 with Randy Waples in the sulky, and cashed $676.
“He was 9-2 in the program and was going off at 20-1 which I thought was an overlay,” he said. “I was looking for some longshots to get lucky with, and I knew that Randy Waples was one of their best drivers. My goal was to get in the top 10, so then I started betting favorites in the races I had left. Three out of the four tracks I had never bet on before!”
As part of his prize package, Lang will also receive an airline voucher from Continental Airlines good for two tickets anywhere in the continental USA; a guest appearance on the Fox Sports Net’s Racing from the Meadowlands show; and the chance to have his handicapping picks and photo posted on the Meadowlands website every Saturday for the remainder of the year.
Tracks and wagering outlets across North America held NHHC qualifiers, with their winners and runner ups having their entry fees, bankrolls and travel paid for by the host establishment.
Racing outlets that hosted NHHC qualifiers were: Balmoral, Buffalo Raceway, Cal-Expo, Capital-OTB, flamboro downs/The Harness Edge, Freehold, Maywood, Mohegan Sun, the Meadows, Meadowlands, Northfield Park, Saratoga Gaming & Racing, WinTicket.com, Woodbine Entertainment, Xpressbet.com and Youbet.com.
Official Top 10 standings for the NHHC will be available on Wednesday. The prize structure is: 1st – $50,000; 2nd – $15,000; 3rd – $7,500; 4th – $5,000; 5th – $2,500; 6th – 10th – $1,500.