12/20/2012 6:05PM

Meadowlands: Qualifying Insider for 12/20/12

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Lisa Photo
Construction continues to progress on the new grandstand at the Meadowlands.

With the construction of the new Meadowlands grandstand in the backdrop, the first session of winter qualifying action took place on Thursday afternoon at the East Rutherford, New Jersey oval.

The thermometer read a chilly 38 degrees and the horses hit the track under cloudy skies. Eleven races featured few top performers but offered some noteworthy efforts that could lead to cashing tickets when live racing commences at the Meadowlands on December 28.

Here are my horses to watch:

Race 2 – Helios

This 3-year-old owned by Meadowlands operator Jeff Gural was on the move just past the quarter and spent much of the mile on the rim. The colt finished a well-beaten second behind the in-hand winner Swiss Lightning, but raced well considering the two month layoff and tough trip.

Race 4 – Don’t Know Chip

A lot will depend on where Racing Secretary Peter Koch places this veteran gelding, but he tucked early and pounced on the leader to win easily.

Race 5 – Western Shore

This 9-year-old did his own thing on the engine en route to a days-best 1:52 2/5 clocking. It was a sharp mile.

Race 6 – Up Front Foxy

Got away last but picked up cover at the half. Freshman filly finished up nicely under her own power and could be ready to roll.