05/13/2012 9:55AM

Meadowlands: Sears slows down the pace for Golden Receiver in Graduate

Driver Brian Sears slowed things down on the front end, making the job easier for Golden Receiver in the finals of the Graduate series.

When the connections of the Graduate series final  favorite Rockincam selected the rail position, it was supposed to be an advantage. That proved to be the furthest thing from the case on Saturday night as Golden Receiver controlled the pace and the race, scoring with stunning ease at New Meadowlands in the $180,000 stakes.

In what turned into a reverse handicap race, driver Brian Sears lit a fire at the outset as Golden Receiver blasted from post 7 directly to the front, gaining control before the field hit the opening bend. A 26 3/5 seconds  opening quarter wasn’t that taxing for this competition and that’s when the fun really began.

Rockincam and driver Dave Miller were obviously looking for a cover trip so it was little surprise when they allowed last year’s Pacer of the Year Foiled Again to tuck in front of them heading to the opening turn. What looked like a good move in principle and on paper proved the demise of the returning champion and the post time favorite. Golden Receiver and Sears sensed the waiting game going on behind him and were able to slow the pace down effectively before any of the closers began to move. The half of 55 2/5 was all it would take to stop anyone from coming from off the pace in this contest.

Foiled Again did pull but he couldn’t get near the leader as Golden Receiver accelerated powerfully on the final bend speeding a back-half in  53 flat and crushing his rivals.

The victory, the third major final of the season sent Golden Receiver’s career earnings above the $1 million mark for owners Stable 45, Richard Taylor, Stephen Spring , and Nina Simmonds. Golden Receiver finished three lengths ahead of last year’s Breeders Crown champ Bettor Sweet, who chased him the entire mile. Foiled Again was a nose back in third after the difficult trip with Meirs Hanover closing inside for fourth. Rockincam, the 9-5 favorite finished sixth.

Give Meadowlands management credit for seizing the opportunity and carding a $50,000 Invitational for this Saturday.. Trainer Mark Harder suggested Golden Receiver could return. “Maybe he’ll race in an open here next week.”

No doubt Rockincam, Foiled Again, and a very solid finishing OK Commander could make the rematch even more compelling.

Driver Jody Jamieson could have easily fallen victim to the identical situation that plagued Rockincam in the Graduate. However, the quick-thinking Jamieson  went around the stalled 95-1 shot Dig For Dollars before the half and was at least in challenging position with favored Mister Herbie in the $210,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for aged trotters.

The race looked like it was Winning Mister’s race to win after the sharp 6-year-old breezed to the lead into the first turn for driver Tim Tetrick. Sent off as the 9-5 second choice in the field, Winning Mister sizzled the first quarter in  27 and was able to stall the half to a moderate 56 1/5 clip.

Tetrick saw Jamieson and Mister Herbie coming and sprinted hard through a 27 flat third quarter but couldn’t shake free of his tenacious rival. The two battled bitterly through the stretch with Mister Herbie proving his mettle in the final 100 yards before the wire.

Sent off as the 3-2 favorite, Mister Herbie scored by a half-length in the 1:51 3/5 mile. Hot Shot Blue Chip finished three lengths off the winner in third.

Trainer Jeff Gillis didn’t mince his words. “He’s got the heart of a lion. He was probably empty halfway down the stretch with the time off [five weeks] and from the trip, but he refuses to quit.”

Mister Herbie is likely to race next in the Earl Rowe at Georgian Downs in two weeks.

“The big one we’re shooting for is the Maple Leaf Trot in early July,” said Gillis, one of the leading trainers at Woodbine and Mohawk. Gillis shares ownership of Mister Herbie with Mac Nichol.