East Rutherford, NJ — Val D’Or Farms’ Newsroom made yet another headline in the $150,000 New Jersey Classic final for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings, coasting to a 1:49.4 lifetime best win — his fifth in as many starts to date — on Friday (Sept. 8) at The Meadowlands.
Usual driver David Miller floated Newsroom forward from post five and kept him in the two-path through the first turn while outside rivals Wish You Well (driven by Brian Sears) and Caviart Justice (Dexter Dunn) circled to the fore to control a :27 first quarter. Miller refused a four-hole tuck with the Always B Miki-Well Hello There colt and instead hit the accelerator upon reaching the backstretch, but they had to work to clear Wish You Well at the end of a :54 half.
“He got stretched pretty good there,” said Miller, “and he still felt good around the last turn.”
With five-sixteenths to go, Miller gave Newsroom a couple taps of the whip, and they began to edge clear of Wish You Well at three-quarters in 1:22.1. Newsroom asserted more earnestly in the final eighth and was driven clear to a 5-3/4-length win. Wish You Well was a no-match second; Caviart Justice narrowly protected third from Avellino (Andy McCarthy), who emerged belatedly out of traffic.
“I asked him through the stretch, and he went on,” Miller continued. “I never pulled his plugs, but I was on him. I think if a horse was at him, he’d have gone a little more.”
After reeling off all his wins at The Big M, can the Joe Holloway trainee make the jump to the Grand Circuit?
“I think he can,” Miller said. “He’s gone some big miles here. I think he’s a versatile horse, too. I’m pretty high on him.”
Newsroom, who increased his career bankroll to $115,775, paid $2.20 to win.
Miller, Holloway and Val D’Or Farms also captured the $150,000 Classic final for rookie pacing fillies, partnering with Blue Pacific for a narrow 1:50.3 win over Tarrific.
Making just her second lifetime start, the Sweet Lou-Miss Jones filly sat patiently in midfield off contested early fractions of :27.2 and :55 before circling a breaking Odds On Steno at race’s midpoint to inherit fifth behind 9-5 favorite Pulp Fiction (Todd McCarthy) entering the far turn. Still six lengths off the lead past three-quarters in 1:22.2, Miller angled Blue Pacific four-wide in upper stretch as Tarrific (Dexter Dunn) pulled the pocket to engulf Pulp Fiction at the eighth pole. Tarrific’s push to the fore was just outdone by Blue Pacific, who surged down the grandstand side to nab Tarrific by a neck. Miraculous Deo (Brian Sears) emerged to take third.
Following a pair of winning qualifiers at Gaitway Farm in June, Blue Pacific’s early development was briefly derailed, but her 1:50.3 Classic win — which upped her earnings to $73,050 — confirmed Miller’s early assessments of the filly.
“Her first two baby races, I couldn’t say enough good things about her,” Miller said. “Then she got off and missed time, but she’s a real nice filly. I told Joe (Holloway) when we qualified her back that the fillies she was beating in the baby races ended up being nice horses.
Blue Pacific paid $8.60 to win.
LEE’ NAILS ‘LINDY’: Eternal Lee pulled off a 9-1 surprise in the $40,000 Miss Versatility for open mare trotters. Andy McCarthy handled the 4-year-old daughter of Southwind Frank-Charity Hall perfectly, sitting a pocket trip behind 1-5 favorite Raised By Lindy, who came up a head short in a mile that went in 1:51.4.
The look of the race changed in a big way when 2022 Hambletonian Oaks champion — and 3-1 second choice — Fashion Schooner went off stride before the start, effectively reducing the field to four.
Eternal Lee, a Chris Ryder trainee who is owned by Murray S. Ferguson, won for the 12th time from 34 lifetime starts while lifting her earnings to $486,222. She returned $21.00 to win.
FREAKY FRIDAYS: For an abbreviated meeting that some aren’t even aware is taking place, betting has certainly been big at The Big M.
After last Friday’s (Sept. 1) total wager of $2.97 million represented a 71 percent increase over the corresponding Friday from the year before, wagering this Friday topped the $3-million mark, which was an uptick of 33 percent over a year ago, after $3,055,341 was put in play.
There have now been 66 programs conducted at The Big M during 2023, and on 50 occasions, betting has busted the $3-million barrier.
A LITTLE MORE: Tim Tetrick led the driver colony with three winners. Dave Miller, Andy McCarthy, Scott Zeron and Dexter Dunn all won two apiece.…Joe Holloway and Lucas Wallin both trained a pair to victory lane.
Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. and marks the final harness racing card at The Meadowlands until Oct. 20. Live Thoroughbred turf racing will take place at The Big M while the harness action is on hiatus.
— Dave Little