River Ness takes Big M feature

East Rutherford, NJ — River Ness got his last win on May 25 after going a huge mile and getting up in a three-horse scrum at the wire. He came back with slightly better stock Saturday night (June 15) at The Meadowlands and pulled another rabbit out of the hat, sneaking up the inside to take the featured $15,000 TrackMaster pace for horses with a rating of 86.5 or less.

River Ness and driver Jason Bartlett won the Saturday night feature. Lisa photo.

The Per Engblom trainee was away quickly from post seven in the nine-horse field and motored past the quarter on the point in :26.3, before yielding the top to Congressional, who bulled his way out of the three-hole before the three-eighths and sprinted to the lead, reaching the half in :55.

Congressional took big-time pressure from Pinebushdragonroll — who was in search of a sixth straight Meadowlands score — around the far turn as they hit three-quarters in 1:22.3, which may have made the difference in the outcome.

Through the stretch, Congressional was determined, but driver Jason Bartlett found enough space along the cones with River Ness in deep stretch to gun down the leader in a thriller by three-quarters of a length in 1:49.4, just a fifth of a second off his lifetime best set three weeks ago. It’s In The Stars was third.

“My horse got out of the gate really well, and then, when Kevin (Wallis, driving Congressional) came over, we were following the right helmet,” said Bartlett. “Kevin’s horse was running out a bit, so I thought I might have some room in the stretch. He got a little tired and we got some room. My horse is very versatile and loves his job.”

A 5-year-old Huntsville-Summertime Lea gelding who is owned by Canarsie Stable, River Ness returned $11.20 to his backers as the 9-2 third choice in the betting. He now has 12 wins from 70 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $346,447.

Otten’s Awesome: Saturday night was the night to follow Big M TV talent Jessica Otten’s picks, as she correctly selected seven winners on top, which included 16-1 shot Kingston Panic (who paid $35.00 to win) in the fourth race and 5-1 chance Rock Jagger ($13.40) in the eighth. She also tabbed 9-1 shot Final Justice ($20.40) in the 14th race to cap a cold Pick-3 ($54.90 for a $1 bet) and the Late Double ($34.40).

A $20 win bet on all of her selections resulted in a profit of $662.

In addition, Otten was on target in the track’s Battle of The Meadowlands Masterminds contest, turning her $500 bankroll into $1,207.50 by the end of the night.

Finally, Otten also correctly selected the winner of the North America Cup, Nijinsky, who returned $7.90 to his backers.

A Little More: Tyler Buter and Bartlett led the driver colony with three winners apiece while Engblom was the top trainer with two jaunts down victory lane.

With a modest carryover of $4,615 leading to a total pool of just under $27,000, one lucky patron walked away with a handsome payout of $23,540 in the 20-cent Pick-6.

All-source handle on the 14-race card totaled $2,512,302.

Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

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