04/30/2013 2:42PM

Meadowlands: My MVP looks for a strong start in $100,000 Maturity

Derick Giwner
My MVP hopes to build on a strong 2012 season.

With the improvement he showed from age 2 to 3, My MVP proved to be a most valuable trotter. And trainer Tony Alagna thinks the horse can continue to make strides this season as a 4-year-old.

My MVP will make his seasonal debut in Saturday night’s inaugural $100,000 Meadowlands Maturity for 4-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. He will be joined in the field by Another Amaretto, Googoo Gaagaa, Guccio, Harbor Point, Little Brown Fox, Magic Tonight, Modern Family, Solvato and Uncle Peter.

The draw was unkind to My MVP and regular driver Mike Lachance, who will start from post 10. My MVP and Googoo Gaagaa are the only horses in the field yet to have raced this season.

Last year, My MVP won the Kentucky Futurity – one of the three jewels in the Trotting Triple Crown – and earned $721,999 for Alagna and owners Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco and Modern Family Partners.

He won five times, finished second to Magic Tonight in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, third behind Market Share and Guccio in the Hambletonian (the three were separated by a neck) and picked up a paycheck in 19 of 21 starts. As a 2-year-old, My MVP won one of five races and earned $9,795.

“I was tickled to death with his season last year,” Alagna said. “Mike did a tremendous job managing him and putting money on his card.

“He was very weak behind at (age) 2 and he got stronger going into his 3-year-old year. He’s even stronger and more mature this year. As much as I’ve seen him change from (age) 3 to 4, I expect him to have a nice year this year and an even better year at 5.”

For My MVP, maturity was more physical than mental.

“The two usually go hand-in-hand, but it’s more physical with him,” Alagna said. “You can see it with his balance; he’s really come together.”

My MVP was an $85,000 purchase at the Lexington Selected sale. A son of stallion Cantab Hall, he was the first foal out of the mare Exceed Expectation, who is a half-sister to 1997 Hambletonian Oaks winner Must Be Victory. The family also includes 1998 Merrie Annabelle winner Rae.

The Meadowlands Maturity was created to give 4-year-olds a chance to gradually transition into racing against older horses. The Maturity is limited to 10 starters based on lifetime earnings. A race for 4-year-old pacers is scheduled May 18.

Jimmy Takter sends out Guccio, Little Brown Fox and Uncle Peter. Guccio, who starts from post one, won last year’s Matron Stakes and earned $751,561. He has one victory and one second-place finish in two starts this season; in both Guccio was the only 4-year-old in the race.

Googoo Gaagaa won last year’s Earl Beal Jr. Memorial at Pocono Downs in 1:50 4/5, which is the fastest mile ever trotted on a five-eighths-mile oval. A week earlier, he won his Beal elimination in a then-world-record 1:51 3/5. He also won the $500,000 Colonial Trot at Harrah’s Philadelphia in a stakes- and track-record 1:52 1/5 and the Maryland Sire Stakes championship at Rosecroft Raceway in a stakes- and track-record 1:54 1/5.

“The more 4-year-old races, the better,” Alagna said. “That’s key to bringing these horses back (at age 4). You don’t really want to go against older, more experienced horses right at the start of the year. Later in the season it’s a different story, but at this stage it gives them a chance to get going and mature.”

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