02/09/2017 12:22AM

Meadowlands: Mann, Miller looking to keep rolling on Thursday

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Mr Big Load seeks his third straight win on Thursday at The Meadowlands.

Brett Miller would like to continue building on the momentum he’s picked up during the past several years. Bill Mann would like to build on the momentum he’s picked up in the past several weeks.

Both drivers will figure prominently in Thursday’s action at the Meadowlands. The final three races of the night, races seven through nine, will be broadcast on “Meadowlands Harness Live” from 9:30-10:30 p.m. on SNY. The finals of the Dash for the “G” Notes overnight series for trotters and pacers will be part of the televised show.

Mann trains and drives the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Dash for the “G” Notes final for claiming pacers, Mr Big Load, who was a winner in both of his preliminary rounds of the event. Miller, who is tied for the Big M lead in wins this year, sits behind I Found My Beach, who is part of a 3-1 entry with stablemate Idealist.

“If he races like he has the last couple starts he definitely should be the one to beat,” Mann said about Mr Big Load, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Friendship Stables. “That being said, he’s also got the seven hole and there are some pretty decent horses inside of him that are sure to probably mix things up a little bit. It depends on how the race sets up.”

I Found My Beach, a son of Mach Three trained by John McIntyre for owner Renee Konefsky, won his “G” Notes division last week and finished second in his opening-round division. Last week was Miller’s first time behind I Found My Beach since 2013, when he won with the horse in a top-level conditioned race at The Meadows.

“I always liked that horse,” Miller said about the 8-year-old I Found My Beach, who finished third in the 2012 Ontario Sire Stakes championship behind Michael’s Power and Warrawee Needy. “It’s been years since I’d driven him, but he acted the same. He’s kind of a high-strung horse out on the racetrack and that hasn’t changed. All his mannerisms are pretty the same.

“He raced very good last week. We got a two-hole trip, he didn’t have to do any work, but that horse is very versatile. He could race about any way. I think he’s got a shot. But (Mr Big Load) is razor sharp. He won last week in the other division as easy as a horse could do it. I’ve definitely got him to beat.”

Mr Big Load, a son of Yankee Skyscaper, has won 14 of 101 career races and earned $138,686. He has a mark of 1:50 4/5, which he established last June at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in winning a $15,000 claiming race. Friendship Stables and Mann have had the horse since November.

“He’s always been kind of a fast horse, but he’s just a little peculiar,” Mann said. “I had some issues getting him rigged up at first. It just seems like he’s coming around now.

“I liked him just because he showed so much speed for him. I thought there was a little bit of potential and if I had a little bit of luck getting him figured out that he’d be a good cheaper horse for me. So far it’s worked out.”

The 40-year-old Mann has a stable of five horses and is based at Wingate Farm in Pennsylvania. Mann grew up in Virginia, where a neighbor had harness racing horses. He started working around the horses at the age of 13 and after graduating from high school began driving at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland.

Mann won a career-best 156 races in 2000 (when he also set a career high with 77 training victories) and has 697 driving triumphs in his career. He left the sport briefly in the late 2000s to sell cars, but slowly returned to the horses and is working on building his stable.

“I’m just trying to get things rolling a little more,” said Mann, who is driving in seven of Thursday’s nine races. “Hopefully the little bit of success I’ve had at the Meadowlands this winter, I’m definitely hoping it carries over a little bit. Hopefully it presents new opportunities. That’s the end goal.

“Thursday I ended up picking up some more drives, which definitely helps because the more you’re out there the better you get. Hopefully some of the momentum can carry on.”

Miller, a native of Ohio, has posted three consecutive $7-million seasons since moving to the East Coast. In 2015 he won his first Breeders Crown, with undefeated Dan Patch Award-winning 2-year-old female pacer Pure Country. Last year, he won a Breeders Crown with Racing Hill, as well as the Adios, Messenger and Hempt Memorial. He added major victories with Pure Country in the Fan Hanover and Lynch Memorial.

Pure Country received her second Dan Patch Award in 2016.

“Racing Hill and Pure Country won me some races that I’ve always dreamt about winning,” said Miller, who has 7,384 lifetime wins as a driver. “It was a very good year. It was very exciting.”

Miller is tied with Jim Marohn Jr. at the top of the Meadowlands standings with 26 wins this year. He has 40 victories overall, with most of the others coming at Freehold Raceway.

“It’s been going good,” Miller said. “I’ve been kind of taking it easy. I’ve been doing the Meadowlands and running over to Freehold once a week.

“I’m looking forward to stakes season. Last year I had Pure Country and Racing Hill going into their 3-year-old seasons and that was really exciting. I don’t feel like I have horses going into their 3-year-old seasons like them, but this business is funny. You could have a good one (at age 2) and it might not come back as good as a 3-year-old, or you may have just a so-so 2-year-old that is a really good 3-year-old. You just kind of have to see how it goes.”

In addition to driving I Found My Beach on Thursday’s Meadowlands card, Miller will drive Never Ever Clever in the Dash for the “G” Notes Series final for conditioned trotters. A 6-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill, Never Ever Clever won her second-round division last week and finished second in the opening round. She is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line, behind the 9-5 entry of Montalbano Bi and Detroit Rapper from the stable of Patti and Rob Harmon.

“She’s a nice horse,” Miller said about the Jonas Czernyson-trained mare. “She was just a little tricky leaving the gate a couple weeks ago when I drove her. She was coming off a break, so I didn’t want her to break stride again.

“Last week, I was a little more aggressive with her and she got out of there pretty good. That’s my plan for Thursday, to get her out of there the best I can. I would love to be able to cut the mile or maybe sit the two hole. She’s definitely got a shot at winning. She’s got enough to go with any horse in there, it’s just a matter of what kind of trip I get.”

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com