11/12/2015 3:44PM

Meadowlands: Callahan has top colts in stakes elims

Dog Gone Lucky looks for his fourth straight win on Saturday at the Meadowlands.

No matter what time of the year, it pays to be in the right place at the right time. Such was the good fortune of Corey Callahan, one of the sport’s leading drivers. Callahan was available to drive Dog Gone Lucky for trainer Chuck Sylvester when called upon for the $191,500 final of the Kindergarten series at Vernon Downs on October 31 and now is in perfect position to cash in on Saturday in one of two eliminations of the Valley Victory at The Meadowlands.

“Tim (Tetrick) had been driving him but he opted to drive Hollywood Highway so I was happy to pick up the drive,” said Callahan of his good luck.

Since then Dog Gone Lucky has gone on to capture the $216,300 Matron Stakes at Dover last week and enters Saturday’s $20,000 elimination as the likely horse to beat.

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“Without Southwind Frank in the race it’s anybody’s (to win),” said Callahan. “He’s a solid colt that you could do what you want with.”

Dog Gone Lucky, a colt by Lucky Chucky, has come into his own during the latter part of the season while stringing together three victories after losing in a photo at The Red Mile in early October.

“I think he’s best when you could put him on the front end,” said Callahan. “Sometimes after he passes horses he tends to wait on them and gets his neck crooked. They may try to put a burr headpole on him.”

Callahan will guide Dog Gone Lucky from post two in the evening’s fifth race.

The first Valley Victory division includes trainer Jimmy Takter’s Lagerfeld, a winner of nearly $300,000 in his first year on the racetrack. Lagerfeld surprised the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final field on September 11 capturing the rich event in 1:55 3/5 as an 11-1 outsider. Yannick Gingras drives the son of Yankee Glide from post six in the 10-horse field.

Takter also sends out Bar Hopping (post 5) in this division. The Muscle Hill-sired colt was a bridesmaid twice during the Red Mile Grand Circuit meet and now returns to the Meadowlands where he won for the only time during his eight-race career.

Callahan has been high on New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Ideal Rocky from square one and that confidence has not abated. “He was wicked winning the second week at The Red Mile,” said Callahan of a 1:54 winning effort. “I don’t know what happened to him the first week, he wasn’t himself but the second week he flew home in 26 seconds.”

Ideal Rocky, a son of Rocknroll Hanover, faces seven rivals in the second of two $20,000 eliminations for the Governor’s Cup on Saturday, race nine on the program.

“He drew the outside in the Matron last week,” said Callahan. “So I raced him easily knowing that he had this race. He finished strongly for me.”

Indeed Ideal Rocky was moving swiftly late with no chance of catching the leaders in the Matron at Dover.

Trainer John Butenschoen has done a solid job keeping the colt fresh as he makes his 14th juvenile start, the most in the field.

“I think the big track is his strongest suit,” said Callahan. “He likes chasing horses and closing. I think that 26-second last quarter was no fluke and I think he can give you that in a 1:51 mile.”

Ideal Rocky drew in a different division than Breeders Crown winner Boston Red Rocks (Race 2). “Boston Red Rocks is a very good horse,” said Callahan. “But my horse has beaten him the last two times they’ve met.”

Boston Red Rocks will likely have a tougher task reaching the final with a much deeper field that includes the 1:51 3/5 winner Spider Man Hanover (post 1), Sapient Hanover (post 5), a blowout 1:50 3/5 winner for Ake Svanstedt at The Red Mile, and the recent Matron winner and Breeders Crown runner-up Big Top Hanover (post 8).

Boston Red Rocks, also by Rocknroll Hanover drew post three for trainer Steve Elliott and driver Tim Tetrick. He followed up his 18-1 Crown upset victory with a 1:52 2/5 freshening in a qualifier at The Meadowlands on November 6.

The top five finishers in each division of the Valley Victory and Governor’s Cup will qualify for the November 21 finals. The race winners get to draw posts from the inside six positions.

Post time for opening weekend and beyond at the Meadowlands is now 7:00 p.m.