Dancinginthedark M was positively airborne through the stretch in the Friday night feature at The Meadowlands, taking the $21,000 high-end conditioned trot in 1:52.3, and in the process, marked himself as a Hambletonian contender for trainer Marcus Melander.

He was so good, in fact, he might even have surprised his driver a bit. “He wasn’t mentally strong last year,” said Tim Tetrick. “He wasn’t strong enough to do what he had to do. But tonight, I was super impressed with him.”

Backers of Dancinginthedark M, the 4-5 favorite, were likely a tad concerned down the backside as 16-1 longshot Beyond Ordinary led at the quarter in :27.4 and the half in a leisurely :57. The outer flow did not begin to develop until after the half, when 5-2 second choice Nylander popped out of the four-hole to provide live cover for the eventual winner, but as they straightened up for the stretch drive, Nylander stalled.

But Dancinginthedark M, who still had a lot to do racing in fifth, got the job done.

Racing out in the four path, Dancinginthedark M started to roll as he reached mid-stretch, and the 3-year-old son of Readly Express-Leila powered past an overmatched field by trotting his final quarter in :26.3 to win by a length over a stubborn Beyond Ordinary. Chiplosive was third.

“The big races aren’t until August,” said Tetrick, “so we wanted to win, but it was more important to have him passing horses as we neared the wire. He trotted the lane pretty well tonight.”


Dancinginthedark M, who is owned by Menhammar Stuteri Ab, returned $3.60 to win in his 2021 debut after a 2-year-old season that saw him win three-of-seven starts and bank $91,961.