05/29/2013 11:22AM

Meadowlands: New Jersey Sire Stakes Finals highlight strong Saturday card

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Rockin Image (2) held off Wake Up Peter in last year's Breeders Crown.

The Meadowlands will host four individual $150,000 finals for the New Jersey Sire Stakes on Saturday night as part of a mega-stakes program. The state-bred races highlight the sophomore crop with finals for both sexes and gaits.

Generally these finals showcase some of last year’s better two-year-olds taking their first steps towards major stakes engagements. On the pacing side that’s the case, as defending Breeders Crown champion Rockin Amadeus appears the horse to beat in the final for sophomore pacing colts. The son of the late-great New Jersey stallion Rocknroll Hanover cruised to an effortless 1:49 4/5 victory in the first Sire Stakes leg for driver Yannick Gingras. He drew the pole position in Saturday’s contest (race 8) and is a likely odds-on favorite to score as he makes his final prep for next week’s (June 8) $1,000,000 North America Cup eliminations at Mohawk.

Emeritus Maximus (post 5) and Johny Rock (post 7) have both captured preliminary legs and are contenders.  The lightly-raced Lucan Hanover (post 9) showed high speed in the opening leg and could surprise for trainer Casie Coleman.

I Luv The Nitelife was one of last year’s premier two-year-old filly pacers. She scored for driver Tim Tetrick in the opening sire stakes leg and could dominate in the $150,000 final for sophomore filly pacers (race 11). Trainer Chris Ryder has the filly ready for just six rivals, including last week’s upset winner Ms Caila J Fra and the 8-time winner in 2013, Jerseylicious. I Luv The Nitelife will start from the rail.

Muscles Yankee is the dominant sire in New Jersey on the trotting side and all seven in Saturday’s second race are his sons. Leading the pack is Smilin Eli. Unraced as a freshman, Smilin Eli has emerged with consecutive Sire Stakes victories for trainer Deshawn Minor and driver Tetrick. The fluidly-gaited colt did it from off the pace in opening round action and then improved his career best to 1:54 2/5 with a dominant front end score in the May 24 second preliminary leg.

Corky, a near quarter-million dollar winner in his brief career, hopes to regain winning form in this contest. The Jimmy Takter-trained colt was first or second in all of his seven juvenile starts a year ago but has gone winless in three stakes races to date in 2013.  Corky hopes to rebound from post two.

The $150,000 sire stakes final for three-year-old trotting fillies shapes up as the most competitive of the four on the card. That’s because the two elimination winners, Silver Credit and Shared Past, landed posts eight and nine respectively in the evening’s fourth race.

Silver Credit, a grey daughter of Muscles Yankee, has finished with solid trot in all three of her sophomore races. Last week with Corey Callahan in the bike, she rallied brilliantly to win going away in a 1:56 clocking. Shared Past matched her win total of a year ago with a victory in opening leg action. The well-bred daughter of Chocolatier earned nearly $150,000 in her first year of racing, but won just once in a dozen starts. Her opening leg victory was a personal best 1:53 4/5 clocking and she looks to improve on that effort Saturday with Yannick Gingras in the bike.

The Meadowlands first post is slated for 7:15 p.m. with a 14-race program that offers two divisions of the Golden Girls for the top aged pacing mares in the sport and a leg of the TVG FFA series, which pits the top-rated Golden Receiver against 11 rivals in the $50,000 contest (race 10).

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