‘The King’ reigns supreme at Big M

East Rutherford, NJ — JL Cruze, aka The King, might be 13 years of age, but he is far from done. Consider what he did Friday night (April 19) in the featured conditioned trot at The Meadowlands and you would draw the same conclusion.

The gelded son of Crazed-Topcat Hall used his considerable back class to record his 66th career win in his 224th career outing while lifting his lifetime earnings just past the $1.93 million mark for owners William Kenneth Wood, William J. Dittmar Jr. and Stephen J. Iaquinta.

JL Cruze won the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands with Todd McCarthy doing the driving.  Lisa photo.

“He loves his job,” said trainer Eric Ell. “Nothing ever changes with him. He has the same routine, jogs the same distance. I don’t train him a lot. He gets a lot of jog miles. I’m going to race him as long as he is sound enough and likes what he’s doing.”

JL Cruze, the first trotter ever to break the 1:50 barrier on a mile track (back in 2015) at The Big M with a clocking of 1:49.4, was away alertly from post nine in the nine-horse field and put 4-5 favorite Instagram Model in the pocket and even-money second choice Duly Resolved in the three-hole before reaching the quarter in :27.3 and half in :57.2. Duly Resolved came calling around the far turn, challenging the leader as three-quarters was reached in 1:26, but still had a length to make up as they turned for home.

“We had a soft middle half there,” said winning driver Todd McCarthy. “(JL Cruze) is one of those horses who’ll give you all he’s got once you ask him.”

With Instagram Model locked in the pocket, JL Cruze moved well through the stretch. Nearing the wire, Instagram Model found clearance, but her late charge came short as JL Cruze, who trotted his final quarter in :26.4, held sway by a neck. Donato Patriot K rallied for third. The time for the mile was 1:52.4.

“It’s honestly a privilege to drive him,” said McCarthy, who has driven JL Cruze three times, two of them wins with one second. “He’s such a nice horse. I was really pleased with him (last week when he was second). He went a big last quarter.”

Sent to the gate as the 10-1 third choice in the wagering, JL Cruze returned $22.80 to win.

A Little More: McCarthy led the driver colony with three winners.

Anna’s Wish ($7.40) defeated Miss Majesty, a Pocono Downs shipper who was seeking her sixth straight win, in the 13th race in a lifetime-best 1:51.2 for trainer Richard Johnson and driver David Miller.

An incredibly competitive card saw only four winning favorites but only one horse who scored at odds longer than 6-1. That was JL Cruze.

All-source handle totaled $3,010,779, the 26th time from 30 race cards that betting went past the $3 million mark in 2024.

Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

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