Updated to include video of Dry Gulch's victory.
The Newark Star Ledger, in a rare occurrence publishes a positive article regarding the Meadowlands. It talks about the importance the Meadowlands has for harness racing in New Jersey and the nation. More importantly, it talks about how Jeff Gural plans to make racing fun again. Granted, the whales may not be coming back so fast, but wouldn't it be nice to see harness racing a 'must do' event again? This is one of the things I am excited about a Gural takeover of the Meadowlands. The handle will come, but to see the day coming to the track is fun and its revitalization being a model for track operators elsewhere come to fruition. I suspect with him being in charge, wagering will be a whole new game when compared against the current model. Of course, the question is will Gural lease the track with Local 137 so far not on board? Right now, I'll give it a 3-5 shot. First of all I think the union will come on board, but Gural knows how important keeping the Meadowlands alive is and I don't think he is going to let the tellers kill it off. Not that the tellers will beat Gural. Let's just say, if they don't come to an agreement on an extention, things may get a little messy when their contract expires. Again, it is only my opinion and it may very well happen as Harness Racing Update interviewed a teller who is in support of the plan who feels when push comes to shove, the contract will not be approved (they also are saying Gural will still walk away which is still the official line).
Okay, I'll admit it, St Elmo Hero is the real deal. Up to now, I was convinced it was a matter of him beating the winter stock, but he has now won 26 out of 27 starts, the one loss likely caused by losing a shoe in a race. He is now winning against Open company at Woodbine. I am still certain he will have some difficulty against the FFA ranks in the summer, but I don't know anyone who would have problems with owning what could easily be described as a JFA horse. But as I have been wrong before, who knows, he may win a few races against the FFA horses after all. And to think St Elmo Hero almost ended up being sent for slaughter..
Dry Gulch defeated One More Laugh at Vernon Downs Saturday night, in 1:51.1 with Diamond Stick Pin finishing third in a four horse race (there were two late scratches). You may find it surprising that a former $8,000 claimer defeated One More Laugh and paid a generous $10.20. Easiest money I have made in a long time; even the track handicapper had Dry Gulch as the favorite.
I know some are still talking about out how Team Brainard purchased Dry Gulch after he raced in an $8,000 claimer and picked up four seconds at Pompano Park in his first start for the new connections. Now Dry Gulch was in a late closer in Lexington in October last year which suggests the horse had shown signs of talent at three, including picking up a 1:52.1 mark at the Meadowlands over a sloppy track, so maybe the drop into an $8,000 claimer was a move to try to steal a purse (which went wrong when he drew post seven) and Brainard, who had spotted something, decided to buy him. But then since we saw a lot of this last year from certain trainers, I imagine people can't help but talk.
Schnittker was not pleased with the outcome of the race. Plans are for OML to head to Pocono Downs and hopefully not come back to race at Vernon. Granted it was his first start back, but I imagine Ray is somewhat concerned.
Next Saturday night is the first big money night of the season with the finals of the Matchmaker and Levy Memorial series at Yonkers Raceway. We know who the eight finalists will be for the Bluechip Matchmaker series (Ginger and Fred, All Spirit, Save My Shark, Breakheart Pass, Chancey Lady, Tomorrowpan, Hulas Z Tam, Ticket To Rock). While we don't know who the eight finalists will be for the Levy as the points are not yey tabulated for week five, we will be seeing if Foiled Again, the monster of the half mile track who took the week off after winning his first four eliminations, can win his third Levy final; this one worth $495,000. It still pays to be a half mile specialist.
I am beginning to think I am the only person in America not paying attention to the Kentucky Derby. The Derby is one of those races that attracts interest from horseplayers of all breeds. For the fun of it, take my Derby interest poll to the left of the blog and see if you are someone who follows the whole road to the Derby, follow it come Derby week, or are apparently a freak like me who doesn't follow it at all, I must admit I am envious of the thoroughbreds as I don't know if we will ever have a race which attracts the interest of horseplayers all over.