After securing the pocket on the first turn, Crosbys Clam Bake angled off the pegs in mid-stretch and chased down 8-5 favourite Opulent Yankee to take Friday evening’s featured $25,000 Open Handicap Trot at The Meadowlands.
Scott Zeron put the six-year-old Kadabra gelding in play from the outset, outsprinting Appomattox (Andy McCarthy) to the first turn but in turn beaten to the early lead by Opulent Yankee (Andy Miller) through a :27.1 initial quarter mile. Crosbys Clam Bake enjoyed a cozy pocket trip throughout, only briefly boxed by the first-over DWs NY Yank (Joe Bongiorno)–who failed to sustain his bid–on the far turn.
Off the far turn, Crosbys Clam Bake was once again in the clear after Opulent Yankee rated a :57.3 middle half–but had to make up 2-1/2 lengths in the final eighth of a mile after the pacesetter edged clear off the corner. Just outside the sixteenth pole, Opulent Yankee was asked for all he had, but Crosbys Clam Bake ultimately had his measure, driven to prevail by a head in 1:53.1 over fast going. Appomattox stayed on for third off his stalking trip.
Andy Federico trains Crosbys Clam Bake–now a 23-time winner–for Randy Bendis, Jack Piatt, II, and Tom Pollack. The win was Crosbys Clam Bake’s second in his three most recent Open-class events. He paid $7.80 to win.
Zeron swept the evening’s features, also capturing the $15,000 top-level distaff pace with Gweneeee J ($4.60). The four-year-old American Ideal mare sustained a middle move out of mid-pack to take charge just after a :55.4 half, ultimately kicking clear to a 5-3/4 length victory over Inittowinafortune (Marcus Miller, elevated to second) and Sayitall BB (Joe Bongiorno, disqualified from second to third for a pylon violation) in 1:51.1.
Linda Toscano trains Gweneeee J for the KJ Stables, LLC.
The featured wins were part of a grand slam for Zeron, who led all drivers on the 13-race card. Andy McCarthy and Marcus Miller registered driving doubles.
Total handle for the evening’s card was $2,842,825, an increase of $148,408 over the corresponding Friday card in 2015.
Neither 20¢ Jackpot High 5 went to a single winner, so they both carry over to Saturday (March 5) evening’s 13-race card. The seventh-race High 5–just hit last Saturday–will have a newly-established carryover of $1,589, while the closing-race High 5 carryover has built to $120,824. Post time for the Saturday opener at the Big M is slated for 6:35 p.m.