02/13/2012 1:39PM

Meadowlands: Social Network looks to make amends in Junior Trendsetter final


Sometimes what looks so easy on paper is much different on the racetrack. Case in point: This past Thursday's second leg of the Junior Trendsetter series at the Meadowlands appeared to be a cakewalk for first-round winner Social Network. Sent off a 1-20 odds against a less-than-inspiring collection of 3-year-olds, Social Network turned the race into an adventure right from the start.

First Dave Miller had to check the horse at least twice at the outset, with the son of Tell All getting very sloppily gaited. Once on the backstretch Miller seemed to have things under control, sending his charge to the front and immediately shutting down the pace. Yet despite soft fractions Social Network couldn't sprint off. Instead as 25-1 shot LLC Delight, a well-beaten sixth-place finisher in opening leg action, approached, Miller used all of his savvy to keep Social Network on course. Needless to say nothing worked as the Yannick Gingras-steered LLC Delight put a disastrous end to the chalk-players double in a 1:53.80 mile.

Two other Junior Trendsetter divisions proved more formfull, with first-round winners Take A Walk and Eastwood Blue Chip repeating victories. Take A Walk had some trouble coming off the final turn in his first-round win, perhaps leading John Campbell to opt off the I Am A Fool colt for the second round. Ron Pierce stepped into the bike and he, too, saw the colt steer wide coming off the final turn. Yet Pierce lost no momentum with the colt marching off to a 1:52 career- and series-best clocking. Eastwood Blue Chip, a first-round winner for Pierce, was left at the altar by his driver for second-round action and Dan Dube was the beneficiary, with the colt scoring an easy 1:53.20 victory.

This Saturday's $58,500 final should be a good one, especially if the first-round-winning Social Network shows for the final. John Campbell has to make a choice between Big League and Im The Pied Piper. Both closed well in separate divisions.

The aptly named Winning It will likely be the odds-on favorite in Friday's $47,000 Tender Loving Care final following her second straight preliminary win on Thursday night. Now five-for-five, Winning It scored by a half-length in 1:54.20, the identical clocking to her first round romp. With leading trainer Ron Burke in the barn and leading driver Gingras in the bike, Winning It should get a more serious test in the final.  The Mark Ford-trained Jamie Sue has shown toughness in both legs without benefit of a win. Air Guitar Hanover, an impeccably bred Rocknroll Hanover filly from the champion mare Armbro Amoretto, could be rounding into form for trainer Linda Toscano just in time for the TLC final.

Fillies and mares were at opposite ends of the spectrum on Friday night in two $35,000 divisions of the second Cape & Cutter series leg. Higher And Higher was at her gritty best winning for the fourth time in 2012 for trainer-driver Daryl Bier in the first split, clocked in a tepid 1:53.20. The daughter of Western Terror made the chalk-players happy with a $4.60 win payoff.

Chalk-players got "Mud" in their eyes in the second Cape & Cutter division as near 60-1 shot Mud Pie Hanover supplied the upset with a great drive by Dan Dube. The 6-year-old mare seemed a bit overmatched after finishing fourth in the opening leg of the series. But trainer Jason Robinson's entire barn has come to life in the last seven days and Dube drove with more purpose, working out a three-hole trip which he converted.

Royal Cee Cee N, a runner-up for the second straight week, languished on the final turn before pacing home well in the 1:51.80 mile. Ginger And Fred, a first-round winner and odds-on favorite in this division, tired after cutting rated fractions.

This Friday's $63,750 Cape & Cutter final is certainly to be wide open, with Higher And Higher looking for a sweep but looking anything but dominant at this point. The Burke Stable will send out three for the final, including Rock N Soul, Ginger And Fred and an improving Go On BB.

The richest final of the coming week will be the $74,600 Exit 16W, slated for Saturday. Final elims were contested on Friday with Itrustyou posting his 12th straight victory and fifth of the year. In perhaps the most hotly contested race of the year, driver Gingras didn't let the tote board (1-2) dictate his driving style. Instead Gingras was able to lag at the back early off sizzling fractions of 26:40, 54:10 and 1:22 before calling on his charge in the homestretch. He easily held off a rejuvenated Mickey Hanover in the stretch with Fearless Diablo a spent, but very game third-place finisher.

Clyde Hirt champion Special T Rocks bounced back in a big way, scoring in a career best 1:50.40 clocking in his division giving trainer-driver Daryl Bier a double on the Friday card. Real Flight bounced back for trainer PJ Fraley also with a career mark of 1:50.80 for driver Tim Tetrick on the other Exit 16W division.

The Exit 16W may not only be the richest final, but the best race this coming Saturday night. The streaking Itrustyou will have plenty of company with perhaps Fearless Diablo the horse to be wary of.

As if the Burke-Gingras team didn't have enough power to fill the stakes weekend. Westardho Hanover should be favored to capture Saturday's $57,600 Aquarius final despite winning in less-than-stellar style in this past Saturday's second round. Gingras got the job done but he had to ask his steer for pace at the half to clear the lead and then again late in the mile when it looked as if the son of Dragon Again was about to pull up before the finish wire. Nevertheless he held sway by a head in a 1:51.20 mile over Camaes Fellow, the likely second choice for the final.