01/09/2013 10:52PM

Meadowlands: Cassar has Presidential hopeful in Mr Hasani N

Lisa Photo
Golden Receiver pictured winning the 2012 Presidential Final.

Five weeks ago trainer Darran Cassar appeared to have no interest in racing his improving import Mr Hasani N against Golden Receiver.

That was then.

On Saturday night, Mr Hasani N will make his Meadowlands debut in the Presidential, a race in which defending champion Golden Receiver was also entered. Cassar’s charge won’t be facing Golden Receiver just yet, as racing secretary Peter Koch had to split the 13 horses into a pair of $40,000 divisions, races two and six on the 13-race program.

Though Mr Hasani N won’t be facing Golden Receiver, he will be on the outside looking in from post seven in the sixth race division. Since arriving on these shores in late September, Mr Hasani N has rapidly climbed the class ladder culminating in a victory in the $75,000 Open Handicap at Harrah’s Philadelphia on December 21.

“He got sick after that start and I kept him out over Christmas week,” said Cassar.

But Cassar has had enough time to train his horse back for competition and expects his New Zealand import to be ready for battle when the gate swings open on Saturday.

“He just keeps improving,” said Cassar, who feels that the five-year-old son of Christian Cullen will be as good on the mile track as he’s been on the five-eighths oval in Philadelphia.

Mr Hasani N has been nearly flawless since arriving in this hemisphere for owner Muscara Racing Trust. He’s won six of his eight starts in the U.S. worth $107,000. Not bad at all for a rather inexpensive purchase.

Cassar has tried to be careful with his horse for the most part, racing him from off the pace when possible. But the trainer confides “I don’t think he’s been beaten on the front end in his career,” said Cassar.

But don’t expect to see Mr Hasani N looking to try the front on a regular basis at the Meadowlands.

“I don’t want to see him getting down to the half in (1):53 and a piece,” Cassar said.

While the trainer had tried to avoid racing Mr Hasani N in the Presidential just a short time ago, he realized that there really was no place else he could race this horse.

“With the amount of money he’s won in the last six starts he doesn’t fit any class,” said Cassar.

Considering that Golden Receiver, who drew the rail in the first division (race 2), is not in the field you’d have to believe that this Presidential division is the easier one, but that doesn’t mean it will be a piece of cake for Mr Hasani N. The red-hot Dial Or Nodial drew post four for trainer Jim Campbell and driver Dave Miller. The seven-year-old tried to rough it going without cover into a :25 4/5 final quarter posted by Golden Receiver last week and paid for it dearly finishing third. He defeated Mr Hasani N at Harrah’s Philadelphia on December 14 despite starting from post eight in that race.

Trainer Ron Burke has an inordinate supply of aged pacing stock with four entered in the Presidential. Annieswesterncard (post 3) and Rockin The House (post 5) are an entry in this division. The former is a $1.1 million career winner that has been absent since winning at Saratoga on December 15. Rockin The House, third behind Mr Hasani N and Dial Or Nodial at Harrah’s Philadelphia on December 21, fits this class very well.

Second Wind N, another import with impressive credentials, landed post two for his Meadowlands debut. The seven-year-old won four straight races this fall at Harrah’s Philadelphia, all in 1:50 2/5 or faster.

Golden Receiver is likely to be a 1/5 favorite or lower in the first Presidential division field of six. The now eight-year-old showed no rust at all carving out a 1:48 4/5 mile in last Saturday’s FFA pace at the Meadowlands. Tim Tetrick will again pilot him from the pole for trainer Mark Harder.

Meirs Hanover appears the obvious second choice in this division from post four. Malak Uswaad N, an imported son of Bettors Delight, exhibited high class potential at the end of the summer meet at the Meadowlands in 2012. He’s prepped twice at Dover for trainer-owner Peter Tritton and appears primed for the Presidential. Malak Uswaad N landed post six.

Trainer Cassar has two other imports entered on Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Though he didn’t sound as if he is expecting much from either Cromac Johnny N (post 3) in race five or Eridanus N (post 11) in race 10.

“They are just recovering from sickness and I think they’re going to need some time before they get back to top condition,” Cassar said.

The Meadowlands 13-race Saturday program has a 7:15 p.m. first post. There will be a $25,000 guaranteed pool early Pick 4 in races (3-6) and a $75,000 guaranteed Pick 4 in races (7-10).