05/15/2013 4:43PM

Meadowlands: Modern Family hopes to keep rolling in Cutler Memorial

Lisa Photo
Modern Family looks for his fifth straight win on Saturday.

Earlier this year trainer Daryl Bier said that he had lightly staked his four-year-old trotter Modern Family because he didn’t want to put pressure on the horse to race against older foes. Now, after his smashing victory in the $100,000 Meadowlands Maturity and last Saturday’s 1:51 winning effort in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial elimination, Bier seems to have some regret.

“Sure, I wish I had staked him to a few more races,” said Bier on Tuesday.

“I really didn’t want to race him too much this year. He’s got the Maxie Lee (May 26) next at Harrah’s Philadelphia and then maybe we’ll hang around if there are some four-year-old open races carded, but that’s it.”

For Bier, the pleasant surprise is that Modern Family, purchased for $110,000 in January, has turned into one of the best, if not the best aged trotter in training.

“He raced great for me in Dover earlier this year, but it wasn’t until April 13 at Pocono when I think things changed. I left with him hard that night and gave up the lead. We were trapped in and when he shook free, he really took off,” Bier said of the 1:52 2/5 winning effort.

The trainer and also part-owner believed after that mile that they found the key to racing Modern Family.

“I think we found out the way he likes to race and that’s the way Tim (Tetrick) has been driving him,” said Bier.

Last week Modern Family got the benefit of that pocket trip, as Googoo Gaagaa cut a strong pace and Modern Family rolled by him in the deep stretch. The son of Cantab Hall has won 9 of his 12 starts this year heading into Saturday’s $180,000 Cutler final and has already surpassed his purchase price. He drew post three in the star-studded sixth race and will probably get his most difficult test of the year.

Defending Cutler champion Mister Herbie could be an imposing figure from the rail with Jody Jamieson in the sulky. The Jeff Gillis-trained five-year-old was first or second in 10 of his 12 starts in 2012, earning a shade under $1 million. Last week Mister Herbie rallied from well off the pace, finishing second behind Modern Family in the scorching 1:51 effort. That’s a powerful first start for any horse and should set Mister Herbie up well for the final.

The $1.8 million-winning Wishing Stone made a miraculous late charge to win in the other Cutler elimination heat last week for driver Yannick Gingras. The oldest horse in the field at six, Wishing Stone landed post four in the final for leading trainer Ron Burke and will be looking for his third straight victory.

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Last year My MVP was Modern Family’s more famous stablemate, winning the Kentucky Futurity and finishing third in the Hambletonian for trainer Tony Alagna. The roles are reversed this year, with My MVP looking to catch up to his now more advanced rival. My MVP showed improvement in his second start of the season, finishing fourth less than two lengths behind Modern Family. Hall of Famer Mike Lachance drives My MVP (post 5).

Trainer Jim Campbell has a longshot in Opening Night that could make waves with the right trip. The five-year-old raced without cover for a majority of last week’s trial and was beaten just a head finishing third behind Wishing Stone. Though he drew post eight, he could find his way into the picture with John Campbell in the bike again.

While Bier said he would like to win the Cutler final, he is really looking forward to the Maxie Lee next week.

“Maxie Lee is someone I knew. If I had to describe him in one word I’d say he was a gentleman. That’s a race I would really love to win,” said Bier.

After the Lee there isn’t much left this year, so Bier is looking ahead to racing Modern Family as a five-year-old.

“We’ll quit with him early and bring him back next year. I will probably stake him to everything next year,” said Bier.

Could a trip to Sweden for the Elitlopp be in the 2014 plan book?

“My wife is Swedish and I have to say it’s something I never really thought about until the last few weeks,” said Bier, obviously leaving the door ajar should Modern Family continue to race at this level.

Bier has even started thinking that should Modern Family continue to shine he could be a potential sire.

“He’s by Cantab Hall and he’s out of a great family,” said Bier. Included in that immediate family are the top trotters Maven and Lanson.

The $180,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial is the feature on the 13-race Meadowlands program that also includes the inaugural $100,000 Meadowlands Maturity for four-year-old pacers. First post is 7:15 p.m.