Opens for Hambo & Oakes Eligibles at The Meadowlands July 9, 2010

Posted by Frank Cotolo on Monday, July 12, 2010 2:43 PM
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The Meadowlands held a rare weekday afternoon program on Friday, July 9, with two races for Hambletonian and "Oask"-eligibles, each worth $25,000.

Perhaps the day of the finals –an afternoon program –will be immersed in the piping-hot weather of this day, one of a string in an east-coast heat wave that has hampered many horses from working. The oppressive temperatures may or may not have played a role in these two events, which attracted eligibles that did not want to take a week off for lack of stakes traffic.

Each race was worth $25,000 and each field was filled with hopefuls.

A chaotic final quarter was the focus of the colts’ episode, won by default by Mystery Photo (7-2). That colt managed to steer clear of the rowdy trotting throughout the field caused by favorite Pilgrim’s Taj, who began to gallop while on the lead.

Break The Bank K (2-1) had a tough trip from the start, leaving from post 9 and getting hung. "Taj" took the lead in a very slow :28 first quarter and cruised through a :57 half before getting serious about trotting home on top.

"Bank" had nowhere to go but to the front to challenge, so he took on Taj through three-quarters in 1:25.3. Up to that point the event was ordinary and the speedy sophomores appeared to be ready for a battle at the wire, giving some closers a shot to participate. But Taj began to gallop, knocking Bank off stride and those behind the jumping duo scurrying for safety.

Meanwhile, up the rail and out of harm’s way, Mystery Photo inherited the lead and kept it, while ineligible Oh No Its Steveo steered clear for second and Pretty Boy Lindy went wide to capture third.

I’ve Got It All skipped at the start and was never in the race. RC Gallant Image, Classic Puzzle and Xclusive were also uninvolved. Taj never regained trot, finishing up the track uncharacteristically. It was Bank that looked best through it all.

The fillies were evenly wagered upon, with Bar Slide going off the favorite at 8-5. The other recently hot gals in pursuit of the Oaks were backed accordingly.

Fashion Feline took the top and went wire to wire at 5-2 in another remarkably speedy mile for the division –1:53. Driver Brian Sears dismissed late challenges without urging his charge, timing her to get home to win by a nose. Bone A Fide, at 4-1 probably due to her recent bouts with missteps, stayed flat and took second with a strong closing move. Bar Slide was third.

Impressive again was Ron Gurfein’s Crown Laurel. The three-time winner at three was a whopping 15-1 and had a strong finishing last quarter skimming the pylons. She could be peaking at just the right time, at least to be an upset contender in the Oaks elims.

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