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MEL MARA AIRS IT OUT IN BIG M FEATURE

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rain showers loomed over the morning qualifying session at The Meadowlands, but overcast conditions settled in over the afternoon and into Saturday night's 11-race program.
Saturday night's main event was the $20,000 Preferred Pace, scratched down to a field of six, with Odds on Equuleus out sick. Three of the six arrived into the Saturday's event riding back-to-back wins, with all six starters finishing first or second in their most recent start.

Mel Mara had the pole position and driver Corey Callahan took full advantage, winning the early skirmish into the opening turn to put Bushwacker (John Campbell) in the two-hole, with Rockeyed Optimist (Andy Miller) dropping into third. They raced that way by the quarter in 26.4, and through a very reasonable half-mile in 55 seconds.

The tactical advantage was with Mel Mara after the 28.1 second-quarter breather, and he unleashed a wicked 53 second back half on the lead, easily rebuffing a mild challenge around the far turn from Rockeyed Optimist, to cruise home to a three length win in 1:48. Rockeyed Optimist prevailed in a narrow photo over Bushwacker to hold second.

It was the 20th career win for Mel Mara, the second in three starts this season. Mel Mara is trained by Dylan Davis for the Robert Cooper Stables LLC and the J&T Silva Stables LLC. He returned $3.80 as the 4-5 betting favorite.

Andy Miller had a driving triple and was the only driver with multiple wins on the 11-race program. Kelvin Harrison had a pair of training wins.

Total handle on the 11-race card was $1,986,010. Live racing resumes next Friday. Post time is 7:15 p.m.

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