07/25/2012 8:02AM

Meadowlands: Merrie Annabelle and Peter Haughton Memorial eliminations draw top 2-year-old trotters

Lisa Photo
To Dream On is the likely favorite in her $20,000 division of the Merrie Annabelle elimination.

The creation of an incredible stakes program on Aug. 4 at the Meadowlands begins in earnest on Friday when 17 fillies and 20 colts compete in eliminations for the Merrie Annabelle and Peter Haughton Memorial two-year-old trotting races. Each has a $375,000-estimated purse to support the $1.5 million Hambletonian and the $714,050 Hambletonian Oaks on the mega-card.

Friday’s festivities begin with the third race, a nine-filly $20,000 Merrie Annabelle elimination. Trainer Jimmy Takter has the likely favorite in To Dream On, a Credit Winner filly who has matched impeccable breeding with stunning early season performance. In between three qualifying miles, To Dream On has captured the Reynolds and Simpson stakes at the Meadowlands, posting sizzling 1:55 3/5 miles on both occasions. Dave Miller will handle the filly from post four.

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Trainer Rich Banca’s Lady Riviera, a half-sister to older trotting star Chapter Seven, is also a multiple stakes winner this season, having captured a division of the Simpson. Last week she set a track mark of 1:59 2/5 capturing a New York Sire Stakes event at Monticello. Ron Pierce will guide her from post seven.

In this third race division, Find The Magic hopes to continue her unbeaten ways as well. The Chocolatier-sired filly has shown sharp speed closing in consecutive Meadowlands stakes engagements and benefits from post two with Brian Sears in the bike.

Trainer Ray Schnittker’s Check Me Out captured the Merrie Annabelle final last year. He has another quality filly in Royal Assets in the fourth race, second Merrie Annabelle elimination. The Donato Hanover-sired filly showed extreme speed in defeat in a division of the Pa. All Stars at Mohegan Sun Pocono in early July and then followed that up with an easy score at The Meadows last week. Royal Assets landed post four in the eight-filly second division.

Trainer Julie Miller could have a rising star in Miss Steele, a daughter of Muscles Yankee who landed post eight in this division. A Simpson division winner, Miss Steele has exhibited speed and determination in her three starts.

The Haughton trials for juvenile trotting colts, opens with its first $20,000 elimination as race five on the 11-race program. Major Athens ships in with consecutive stakes wins for trainer Rich Gillock. The Andover Hall-sired colt drew the rail.

Aperfectyankee has been brought along perfectly by trainer-driver Jim Oscarsson. The son of Yankee Glide finished powerfully in the Reynolds at the Meadowlands in early July and then followed that up with an explosive 1:56 4/5 mile in a division of the Tompkins at Tioga on July 19. Aperfectyankee landed post seven.

Trainer Jim Campbell sends out two colts in Saturday’s Hambletonian eliminations and appears to have a solid chance in the Haughton with Fashion Blizzard. The homebred Credit Winner colt out of $735,536 winning Fun And Strokes, drew post three with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike in the second elimination, race eight on the card. Fashion Blizzard enters the race after an easy 1:59 4/5 victory at Yonkers last Friday in a New York Sire Stakes division.

Trainer Ray Schnittker has a pair in this division, including Caveat Emptor, a 1:57 winner in a division of the Simpson in late June. He drew post seven.

Jimmy Takter’s unbeaten High Bridge landed post 10 in this division. The son of Cantab Hall has shown improvement in each start this year.

The top five horses in each elimination race will move on to the Aug. 4 finals in both the Merrie Annabelle and Peter Haughton Memorial.

First post for Friday’s 12-race Meadowlands card is set for 7 p.m.