03/11/2012 7:42AM

Meadowlands: Horse & Groom, Overbid finals on tap


The New Meadowlands will change its schedule this week, moving to two nights a week. The change will mean that the best will be focused on Friday and Saturday nights. Following final preliminaries this weekend, the New Meadowlands is poised for some major stakes final action with the Horse & Groom series for improving trotters offering an $82,000 final this Friday and the Overbid, for the top pacing females the sport has to offer, going for a six-figure purse on Saturday night.

The Horse & Groom series, for trotters that were nonwinners of four races or $175,000 lifetime, drew three solid divisions this past Thursday with Fountainbleau Volo emerging as the only horse to capture two prelims. The 4-year-old has Fountainbleau shown versatility, winning from both on and off the pace. This past Thursday, with the wind playing a major factor, Fountainbleau scored in a career-best 1:53 1/5 mile for driver Dave Miller and trainer-part-owner Jeff Dauplaise.

Marcus Bi, second in opening leg action, stamped himself as a serious contender for the final with a solid first-over victory for driver Dan Dube. Rich Bilach trains Marcus Bi, an improving son of Supergill who posted a 1:54 1/5 clocking defeating post time favorite Cameron Chip in the process. The loser will also advance to Friday’s final. First round victor Ice Machine had too far to come but finished a respectable fourth and will advance as well.

Brian Sears will have a tough choice to make following the victory of Here Comes Numbers in the third division. An Ontario-based shipper, Here Comes Numbers flew by rivals in the stretch to win by nearly five lengths in 1:54 1/5. Nick Drennan trains the 4-year-old by Here Comes Herbie. Sears also drives Ice Machine.

Saturday’s $101,750 Overbid shapes up as the best race for aged pacing mares this season. Higher And Higher finally found cover after successful attempts grinding for trainer-driver Daryl Bier. The rugged mare flew by pacesetting Tea Party Princess posting a 26-second final quarter on the way to victory. Put On A Show, disappointing in the first leg of the Overbid, showed more interest this past Friday but may have been too kind on the backstretch when Tea Party Princess brushed to the front. The champion mare appears poised for the final.

First-round winner Rocklamation had a live second over trip but couldn’t deal with the winner this week. The 4-year-old Rocklamation is one of four mares hailing from the Burke stable heading into the final.

Trainer P J Fraley’s pair of Anndrovette and Chancey Lady finished at the back of the pack for different reasons on Friday. Anndrovette was never in the hunt from the outset, while Chancey Lady was used a few times before weakening. Both should be more involved in the final.

Next weekend will also feature the $37,000 Syrinx Hanover final for 3-year-old trotters (Friday) and the $78,400 Four Leaf Clover for 5-year-olds and under.

Fans get a thrill in Rags to Riches

The featured dance on Saturday was the final of the $127,950 Rags to Riches. The race, which pitted former $10,000 claimers up against each other in an elimination style event, managed to live up to its billing as 12-1 outsider Rockin Glass took the field wire to wire fending off the odds-on favorite Oscar Oscar in midstretch and proving too strong for the closers.

“It was a very competitive race,” said driver David Miller. “I was lucky to draw the rail and my horse carried me the whole way.”

Brad Gray of Dundas, Ontario owns and Nat Varty trains the 4-year-old Rockin Glass. He paced the mile in 1:52, holding off Alastair Hanover, who had encountered road trouble and stablemate Colonel Moffitt. The favorite Oscar Oscar faded to fifth in the stretch.

The other big winners in the race were the 11 fans who attended each of the preliminary legs and the final. They each received a random ticket when the series began with 81 horses and earned a 5 percent stake in the final for their efforts, splitting $6,432. Eric Knigge and David Vozzo split the $3,200 grand prize as mock owners of Rockin Glass.