03/23/2013 12:50PM

Harness Racing: Top trotters return in Meadowlands qualifiers

Derick Giwner
Guccio steps out on the track with the new Meadowlands Grandstand in the background.

Trotters - young and old - stepped on the track at the Meadowlands for qualifying action on Saturday (March 23). Hambletonian runner-up Guccio and $3,719,704 career earner Arch Madness where just two of the frontline performers to make their first trips to the track during the session.

The 9-year-old Arch Madness was the first of the pair to qualify. Driver/trainer Trond Smedshammer floated away from the gate with Arch Madness and eventually made the front just past the quarter. He set fractions of 28 4/5, 58 3/5 and 1:28 2/5 while facing a moderate backstretch wind.

At the head of the lane Temple Of Doom angled out of the pocket and wore down Arch Madness by a half length at the wire in 1:55 4/5. Wishing Stone, making his first start for new trainer Ron Burke, was a solid third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Arch Madness.

“I have no plans for him this year,” said Smedshammer of Arch Madness, who would not rule out a trip overseas to the Elitlopp in Sweden, a place where he has raced the previous two years.  “He seems as good as ever. He’ll tell us where he wants to go.”

Guccio waited patiently in the pocket before driver/trainer Jimmy Takter edged the now 4-year-old off the cones at the top of the stretch. The son of Yankee Glide-Southern Senorita quickly pounced on the leader and held sway for a 1 1/4 length win over Unefoisdansmavie in 1:57 1/5 under a few taps of the whip.

Takter said he is aiming Guccio for the $100,000 Meadowlands Maturity on May 4. The Hall of Fame trainer also reported that fellow 4-year-old trotters Little Brown Fox and Uncle Peter are also close to qualifying, with Uncle Peter likely to spend time at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs early in the year.

Perhaps the best looking performance was turned in by the undefeated filly Shebestingin. The second-year Bettor’s Delight filly brushed to the front at the three-eighths but soon found herself back in the pocket. Driver David Miller waited patiently until the stretch and when he said GO the talented filly exploded with a 26 4/5 final quarter to cap a 1:55 mile.

“She’ll head to Pocono for a couple of starts in a series (Bobby Weiss Series) ,” said trainer Joe Holloway, who has high hopes for the 3-for-3 career filly.
Other winners of note on the morning where Muscle Mountain and Hugadragon.

Making his first start since November, Muscle Mountain took a seat in third for most of the mile before finishing fast in the stretch to get up at the wire in 1:57 2/5. The 3-year-old trotting colt is eligible to non-winners of 2 races lifetime.

Hugadragon, a Matron and Bluegrass series winner as a 3-year-old in 2011, only made four starts in 2012. He went wire to wire in 1:53 3/5 while under some urging by driver Yannick Gingras in the stretch. It was his third consecutive qualifier.

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