04/20/2012 5:35PM

Meadowlands: Check Me Out leads a parade of stars in qualifying action

Derick Giwner
Hambletonian hopeful Royal Shyster took to the track for his first qualifier of 2012.

The April qualifying action was hot and heavy at New Meadowlands on Friday April 20. Each race seemed to feature a returning star from the previous year or a newcomer looking to stamp themselves as a serious stakes contender.

The track played a bit slow, perhaps off by one second. Let’s look at the action.

Champion trotting filly Check Me Out was the first star to step on the track. Leaving from post six against five others, the 3-year-old left slowly to make the front past the quarter in 30 3/5 seconds. Once securing command driver Ray Schnittker was quick to put the whip on her back and she accelerated with a huge third quarter time of :26 3/5 (half time was :59 3/5). Following that impressive display of speed she slowed the pace a bit but still trotted home strong to an easy score in 1:54 4/5.

Chasing Check Me Out and finishing a well beaten third was Miss Paris, who earned over $480k during her freshman trotting campaign.

 An interesting performer from the second qualifier was Riverfest. The 3-year-old filly by Windsong’s Legacy saved all the ground along the inside and finished up with very good trot up the cones while under a good hold by driver David Miller.

The undefeated colt Market Share did nothing to tarnish his image with a strong wire to wire victory in 1:57. The Revenue S-sired sophomore was on cruise control the entire mile and driver Jeff Gregory never lifted his whip.

Hambletonian hopeful Royal Shyster made his first trip to the track for new trainer Noel Daley. The 3-year-old colt was reserved early in the mile before being asked for a bit of speed approaching the three quarter call. Once called upon he took off with a strong :27 4/5 final quarter to win going away in 1:57 1/5.

A pair of standouts 4-year-olds took to the track in the 10th of the 17 morning contests. Breeders Crown champion mare Cedar Dove finished a strong third behind fellow 2011 $543k earner Jezzy, who sat the pocket and posted a 1:56 mile under a few light taps of the whip.

One race later, $531k winner Pirouette Hanover was a steady fourth in a final time of 1:54 3/5. Perhaps a more interesting effort was turned in by another 3-year-old filly, Double Major. The Linda Toscano trainee finished third in 1:54 2/5 while under a snug hold by driver Tim Tetrick.

New York Sire Stakes champion Heston Blue Chip tucked in fourth before exploding off cover to post a 1:53 1/5 score. His stablemate Machapelo, a career winner of $509k, finished a steady fifth. Out of the same race, Mcboogie put in a good effort. He displayed a nice early turn of speed and had to wait for clearance in the stretch before finishing up with pace.

Kiss Don’t Bite, a 3-year-old filly, went a huge mile against mostly boys and more importantly older foes. The Noel Daley-trained charge tucked fourth before attacking and assuming command. In the stretch she dug in very gamely while fending off a stakes caliber 4-year-old in $404k lifetime earner High Noon.

Bettor Sweet, one of the top older horses in training, cruised around the East Rutherford oval in a co-fastest-mile-of-the-day 1:52 1/5. Driven by John Campbell, the now 7-year-old gelding was barely asked during the performance.

Hurrikane Kingcole put up a strong winning time of 1:52 4/5 but was locked on a line through most of the stretch and battled with driver Tetrick before straightening out in the final strides.

Mel Mara, a potential standout from the Tony Alagna barn, put in his second qualifier of the year. The 3-year-old brushed to the front and never looked back in a strong 1:52 1/5 mile. Shadowing him the entire stretch was Mortal Zin, who appeared to have plenty in the tank and was never asked.