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Trottin' & Pacin': Harness Racing News Roundup

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Western Joe (5) and driver Pat Berry gun down even-money favorite Awesomeness at the wire in the $20,000 Preferred Pace on Feb. 10, 2018 at the Meadowlands. Credits: Lisa Photo
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Meadowlands to Hold Qualifier for World Harness Handicapping Championship

Four spots are up for grabs Saturday, Feb. 17 in Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment’s $400 February Qualifier. The qualifier has a $400 total fee ($200 entry plus a $200 real-money bankroll). The format requires players to bet a minimum of $20 Win, Place, Show or WPS wagers on 10 Meadowlands races. Players can register on-site Saturday up until 7:15 pm.

DerbyWars.com is hosting an online WHHC Qualifier with the winner gaining one $1,000 Final seat. Details can be found at https://www.derbywars.com/tournaments/list/whhc

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Twenty-nine people have already qualified for the World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by DerbyWars.com:

The remaining Meadowlands contest schedule is as follows:

· Saturday, March 10, 2018 - $200 contest with top 2 finishers winning WHHC Final seats

· Saturday, April 7, 2018 - $100 Last Chance contest with top 2 finishers winning WHHC Final seats

On Saturday, March 3 TVG/4NJBets is hosting an online qualifier for customers. The contest includes three seats into the WHHC Final plus travel expenses. Buffalo Raceway is hosting a WHHC Qualifier on Saturday, March 24. Tioga Downs has set qualifiers for March 3 and 17 and Vernon Downs has qualifiers on March 10 and 24 with four people in total qualifying for the WHHC presented by DerbyWars.com Final. Additional qualifiers from partner outlets will be announced in the coming weeks.

The World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by DerbyWars.com Final is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment and has a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000.

For more information contact Rachel Ryan at raryan@playmeadowlands.com or 201-842-5015.

Lappe Wins GSY Amateur Event

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Skies were overcast but with temperatures in the mid 30’s at the start of the 13-race card, on Feb. 9.

As 10 trotters went to post in the GSY Amateur Series race, several left from the start to gain position going into the first turn. As the quarter was clipped off in a brisk :27.1, Jennifer Lappe aboard Here Comes Numbers opened up a five-length lead and never looked back.

Parked on the outside for the first half of the race was Matt Zuccarello, driving Reigningblackswan, who could not find a hole to tuck in. Sitting a loose pocket was the post time favorite, Party On the River, with Rob Harmon in the sulky, who closed the gap in the stretch but could only manage a second place finish. Danish Durango, with Robert Hechkoff holding the lines came from off the pace to finish third. The mile was timed in 1:56.4 and Lappe held on for a length victory.

This 10-year old gelding is owned by Patrick Laiso and Lappe herself and she also trains and the horse.

Pick 4 Proves Popular and Lucrative

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Meadowlands’ signature wager, the 50-Cent Pick 4, is proving highly popular with the betting public.

 “The Meadowlands Pick 4 pool is averaging $81,785 in 2018 and a little more than $93,000 over the last two Saturdays,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir on Feb. 8. “On Jan. 27, the races that made up the Pick 4 sequence saw $938,264 in handle. Those are incredible numbers for our sport. There are also the residual effects of having the most popular wager in the sport.

“The following Saturday, the final Pick 3 pool was over $20,000 and the Late Double pool following our Pick 4 was over $35,000. The final nine races on the card handled over $2 million. These are the type of wagers and pools that we are building our mid-card and late-night audience with and it all starts with the resurgence of our Pick 4 with a 15 percent takeout.”

The day-by-day Pick 4 pool totals for 2018 (the wager carries a $50,000 guaranteed pool):

· Jan. 12: $72,239

· Jan. 13: $83,204

· Jan. 19: $73,445

· Jan. 20: $86,996

· Jan. 26: $85,775

· Jan. 27: $101,968

· Feb. 2: $64,991

· Feb. 3: $85,779

“What some players do not know is that you don’t have to be a single-ticket winner to make a score in the High Five. Remarkably, 4-5 favorites won the final race both nights of (the weekend of Feb. 2-3), but the payouts were $2,094 on Saturday and $5,441 on Friday, nonetheless. That is hard to believe and a good reason for Big M fans to always take a shot at the High Five.”

HANDLE HAT TRICK: Total handle at the Big M exceeded $2.7 million for three straight Saturdays. … Pick 5 pools are averaging $72,429 this year, thanks in large part to a $250,000 carryover pool on Opening Night. Even without a carryover, the wager remains strong, averaging $50,635 in action, more than double the pool’s $25,000 guarantee. The Pick 5 is offered with a 15 percent takeout.

Gingras and Burke Have Super Weekend

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As Bill Belichick and Tom Brady prepared for their big game on Feb. 4, another dynamic duo was at work on Feb. 3 at the Meadowlands, as the team of driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke scored in the track’s $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers with Starznheaven by a nose over Bettor’s Edge in 1:50.2 in 28-degree cold that included a minus one-second track variant.

Gingras, who also won the Friday night feature with trotter Theresademoninme, was ultra-patient with Starznheaven, who was sent off by the Big M faithful at a big 22-1 on the tote board, sitting fifth to the half as Western Joe and Bettor’s Edge exchanged stints on the front end.

The Ross Croghan-trained Hug The Wind N, made the 2-1 betting choice off a lone North American win one week ago with far lesser foes, was moving first-over past the five-eighths as Starznheaven picked up cover. Bettor’s Edge and Hug The Wind N were on even terms at the head of the stretch, but the backfield was very much in motion.

Gingras tipped Starznheaven off his cover in mid-stretch, Bettor’s Edge dug in dead game, Hug The Wind N was crisp between rivals while Endeavor and Awesomeness were flying on the outside. At the wire, it Starznheaven prevailing over Bettor’s Edge and Hug The Wind N with Endeavor and Awesomeness cashing the final two checks. The quintet were within three-quarters-of-a-length of each other at the wire.

Starznheaven returned $47.80 as the sixth choice in the wagering in the eight-horse field and now has 24 wins in 113 lifetime starts for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Emond and Karr.

Gingras won eight races over the two weekend racing programs, teaming up to win six of those with Burke. … Jim Marohn Jr. had a three-bagger on the Feb. 3 card. … Favorites won 11 of the 26 weekend races (42.3 percent).

Western Joe Clear Winner At Foggy Big M

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — On a night that saw steady rain and heavy fog for most of the 13-race program, Western Joe emerged from the mist to explode by the field in the Meadowlands Feb. 10 feature, the $20,000 Preferred Pace.

Starznheaven, fresh off an upset win in this event one week ago at 22-1, made his way to the lead after the quarter and was still on the point at three-quarters in 1:23.2 while being pressed by 36-1 longshot Ponyta Boy.

Then the pace fell down.

Awesomeness, the even-money favorite, tipped off his live cover and was raging through the lane, on the way to what appeared to be an easy win.

But Western Joe had other ideas.

The 4-year-old son of Western Ideal, who won this race on Jan. 20 as the even-money choice, was forgotten in the wagering this time around, sent to the gate at 14-1, the sixth choice in the seven-horse field.

Driver Pat Berry handled Western Joe patiently, sitting a three hole from the outset. He swerved off the rail in mid-stretch and exploded past the field using a final quarter of :27 to catch Awesomeness by a neck. Bettor’s Edge finished third.

Western Joe won for the third time in four starts this year and completed the mile in 1:50.4 for trainer Chris Choate and owner Anthony Ruggeri. He returned $30.20 to his backers.

The Early Jackpot Super High Five resulted in a single-ticket winner. Even though 6-5 favorite Big Top Hanover won the ninth race, that one bettor walked away with a payout of $15,071.64.

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