04/30/2016 1:00PM

Giwner: Make Or Miss begins his road to the Hambletonian with qualifying win

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Derick Giwner
Last season's Valley Victory co-champion Make Or Miss was victorious in his first qualifier of 2016 on Saturday at the Meadowlands

Some of the stars of the sport were out at the Meadowlands on a beautiful and windless Saturday morning.

All eyes were on the sixth race, which was supposed to feature 2015 champion 2-year-old trotter Southwind Frank, but he missed his scheduled qualifying debut due to a quarter-crack and is expected to be back in action within the next two weeks.

While the pre-season Hambletonian favorite didn’t show, another Ron Burke-trained hopeful for the big race in August, Make Or Miss, put on a strong display. After sitting patiently in third through fractions of 28 1/5, 57 3/5 and 1:26 2/5, driver Joe Bongiorno angled off the cones and took aim on pacesetter Brooklyn Hill as well as the pocket-sitting Milligan’s School. 

Coming down the center of the track, the son of Donato Hanover cruised under the wire an easy winner in 1:54 2/5.

“He was loaded with trot coming around the final turn, and being this was his first qualifier, I just babied him to make sure he stayed trotting and there were no problems,” said Bongionro, who added that the colt finished with his earplugs in.

“I’m excited,” said Bongiorno about the prospects of driving a Hambo hopeful. “He trained down really well, and recently they made a shoeing adjustment.  He seems even better now.”

Perhaps the most impressive trotting winner on the card was JL Cruze. The 5-year-old Eric Ell-trained gelding won by nearly three lengths in 1:53 with John Campbell in the bike. His next start will come in the Elitlopp Playoff at the Meadowlands on May 8, but ownership still remains undecided on whether the horse would head to Sweden for the Elitlopp if he were to win.

The pacing star was Mcwicked. Winless in 10 starts in 2015, the former Little Brown Jug winner made his debut for new trainer Steve Elliott and was extra impressive.

After setting the opening fractions of 28 and 56 1/5, Mcwicked yielded to near millionaire In The Arsenal as that one took the field through a 28 1/5 third quarter. The 5-year-old Mcwicked was not done yet, though, as he scooted up the cones to win rather easily in 1:50 4/5 (last quarter in 26 1/5).

Other notable qualifiers were:

-Caprice Hill (1:53) bested All The Time in a race that was fast due to another horse setting quick fractions. Both trotting fillies looked good.

-Hambletonian prospect Lagerfeld was urged to a solid 1:56 score, but stablemate Bar Hopping was perhaps even better, finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind while never asked by driver John Campbell.

-Older trotter DW’s NY Yank made two moves during a good 1:53 2/5 triumph.

Prior to the qualifiers, trainer Tony Alagna had top prospects Racing Hill and American Passport on the track for a training session. Word was that American Passport looked exceptional.