EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Fifty-five contestants vied for $5,000 in prize monies in the 2019 edition of the 18 to 30-year old handicapping challenge at Meadowlands Racetrack on June 1.
The contest offered a $5,000 total prize pool, with prize payouts to the top three finishers furnished by Jeff & Paula Gural’s Allerage Farm.
Emily Nicol of Rahway, NJ, captured the $2,500 top prize with a $234.80 mythical bankroll. She hit long-shot Stimulus Plan in Race #3 for $194.20 which quickly put her into the lead. Nicol remained in first place the entire remainder of the contest.
“I liked his name,” Nicol stated when asked what made her select Stimulus Plan 55-1 long shot. “I just had to pick him with a name like that!”
Christine Kelly of Nutley, N.J., finished in second place with $65.60 earning the $1,500 prize. Kelsie Quintana of Weehawken, N.J., finished in third place with $58.20 to grab $1,000 in prize money.
There was no contest entry fee. The contest format required players to make a mythical $2 "across the board" wager on one horse in races two to 10 at the Meadowlands. The winner was determined by the player that amasses the largest mythical bankroll from their selections.
All contest participants were treated to free hot dogs, hamburgers and other grill items plus soft drinks and water on Victory Terrace, the popular rooftop area at the track.
College students were also given a “stimulus plan” on Saturday. All received a free live program and $5 betting voucher. Plus 10 lucky students were randomly selected to receive a $1,000 college scholarship courtesy of Allerage Farm.
Meadowlands Recap For Saturday, June 1, 2019
The Jenn Bongiorno barn has been on a roll all meeting long at the Meadowlands, and on June 1, ‘J-Bo’ standout Albergo Hanover won his third straight at the Big M and fourth in a row overall by taking the $30,000 featured Preferred pace for 4-year-olds in a lifetime-best 1:49.
“I’m not surprised at how good he’s been,” said Bongiorno, who entered the weekend second in the Big M trainer dash-win standings (with 29) and tops in win percentage (31). “But I am more impressed with him each and every week. He won a Pennsylvania Sire Stake for us last year, so we always knew there was talent there.”
The son of Well Said-Allamerican Celeb, who continued his hot streak despite bumping up from non-winners of six to the Preferred ranks, had that talent on display Saturday, coming first over after leader Hayden Hanover, who had reached the half in :54.4, down the backside. Joe Bongiorno, Jenn’s brother and driver, kept his horse alive racing first over while inching closer to the leader and under serious late urging surged past Hayden Hanover at the conclusion of a heated stretch duel to win by a determined head. Hudson Phil was third.
“Being first up into Hayden — whom I consider a stakes horse — was a little nerve-racking for me,” said Jenn. “But the truth is, this horse is so talented and has such a big heart, I knew he wouldn’t embarrass himself.”
Albergo Hanover, who paid $9.60 as the second choice in the wagering, stayed perfect in four starts this year and has now won 11-of-31 lifetime, good for earnings of $143,409 for owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc.
So is Albergo Hanover as good as his stablemate, None Bettor A, who has won four straight at the Big M in sub-1:50, the most recent in 1:48.4?
“I don’t know,” said Bongiorno. “None Bettor is 6 and Albergo is 4. They both are really nice and, truthfully, I am just so grateful to have these amazing animals under my care.”
All-source wagering came oh-so-close to the magic $3-million mark, as a total of $2,967,772 was bet on the 13 races.
The always popular 50-Cent Pick-4 took huge action, as a total of $120,505 was poured into the pot, good for the second biggest Pick-4 pool of the year, surpassed only by the $134,614 bet on March 2.
Yonkers standout Jason Bartlett drove three winners on the card while George Brennan, Victor Kirby and Joe Bongiorno all had two apiece.
The 50-Cent Pick-5 saw a sequence where winner’s odds were 15-1, 11-1, 58-1, 6-1 and 1-5, and when the dust cleared, one shrewd player betting into the Western NY OTB hub walked away with $32,091.10.
Greenshoe Trots In 1:50.2 In NJ Sires Stakes Final
One week after an incredible start to his 3-year-old campaign, Greenshoe was even more remarkable on May 31, trotting the fastest mile of the year in the sport of 1:50.2 in taking the $200,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final for colts and geldings at the Meadowlands, and in the process, stamped himself as one of the primary contenders for the Aug. 3 Hambletonian.
The son of Father Patrick-Designed To Be began his season last week by scoring for fun in 1:51.2 and was even more impressive this time around.
After a 2-year-old season that saw him break in each of his four starts (he won two of them), Greenshoe is learning how to be a star.
“He only had four starts last year,” said driver Brian Sears. “And every one he gets this year that he stays flat is a step in the right direction. He’s done a lot of maturing.”
Sears had Greenshoe, the 1-5 favorite, sitting in the five-hole early on, before vacating the rail at the three-eighths and making up ground on leader Sheena’s Boy. “He was trotting pretty good,” said Sears of Greenshoe. “I was just biding my time.”
Under no apparent urging from his driver, Greenshoe ($2.40 to win) was inching his way toward the front before using a quick burst of speed to secure the top at three-quarters by an ever-increasing 2½ lengths. He trotted his third quarter in :26.4 before a final explosive split of :27.1 to hit the wire six lengths in front of a rallying Reign Of Honor. Galixton finished third.
In other New Jersey Sire Stakes Finals, Evident Beauty ($2.80 as the 2-5 public choice) stayed perfect in three 2019 starts by taking the 3-year-old filly trot in 1:52.3 for trainer Nifty Norman and driver Dave Miller. Miller got the daughter of Trixton-Struck By Lindy into a third-over flow down the backstretch – with plenty left to do – but powered past her rivals nonetheless to best Sister’s Promise by a length. Starita was third.
“She’s come back really good this year,” said Miller. “She’s pretty easy on herself. Despite the trip, I still felt pretty confident.”
Earlier in the evening in a pair of non-betting NJSS Finals, Hurrikanesky took the 3-year-old filly pace in 1:54.4 for trainer Patrick Hlubik and driver Scott Zeron while Meadowlands Pace hopeful Hurrikane Emperor won the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace in 1:53 for trainer John McDermott Jr. and driver Daniel Dube.
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