12/31/2014 4:58PM

Meadowlands: Winter series action nearing kick-off

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Derick Giwner
Trainer Tony Alagna has top horses lined up for the Super Bowl and Worldly Beauty.

The Meadowlands kicks off the 2015 season on Friday night with a solid 13-race program featuring some trotters and pacers prepping for stakes action in the following week. With the Super Bowl series set to commence on Thursday, January 8 and the Worldly Beauty on the following night, nominees for those events will get a final tune-up.

Super Bowl eligibles will be in force in the daily double on Friday night with 10 nominees going postward in the first two events. Donnie Darko has done nothing wrong during his brief racing career. A four-year-old by Chocolatier, Donnie Darko debuts for the Ron Burke barn in the opener after winning his career debut at Balmoral Park in mid-December.

Seven of the ten in the second race, a $15,000 conditioned event for non-winners of three, are Super Bowl eligible. Opulent Yankee, owned by Jeff Gural’s Little E LLC, has the fastest lifetime record of the group with a 1:51 4/5 effort taken at the Red Mile in the fall. The four-year-old son of Muscles Yankee won his debut for trainer Julie Miller in 1:55 3/5 on December 19 at the Meadowlands and appears to be rounding into form at the opportune time for the Super Bowl.

Steel Curtin, the first foal from Breeders Crown champion Kadealia, makes his four-year-old and Remmen stable debut in the second race. The lightly-raced stallion won twice as a three-year-old including a 1:55 2/5 score at the Meadowlands.

A total of 50 three and four-year-old trotters were named to the Super Bowl with eliminations slated for January 8 and 15 and the $50,000 final to be raced on January 24.

Among the other notable trotters set to race in the Super Bowl will be Royal Ice, a 1:51 3/5 winner at the Meadowlands this past summer and Propulsion, a $250,000 yearling from 2012 with a 1:52 3/5 mark taken at The Red Mile.

Nine of the 21 eligible fillies and mares for the Worldly Beauty will see action on Friday night. The evening’s third race, a conditioned event for non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel races, has four nominees including Lotsa Matzah. The four-year-old by American Ideal is a full sister to the sub-1:49 performers Heston Blue Chip and Sunfire Blue Chip. That fashionable pedigree has not translated to victories as yet for Lotsa Matzah, with just one win in a dozen career starts. She has qualified well for trainer Ed Hart for her four-year-old debut.

Some of the tougher horses prepping for the Worldy Beauty will compete in  race 11, with the rapidly improving Empress Deo looking for her fifth victory in her last five starts for trainer Wayne Givens. The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover was nosed-out in a 1:51 3/5 mile a week ago at the Meadowlands.

The Worldly Beauty is likely to be the next stop for Witch Dali, the 1:51 2/5 winner of the Niagara Series at Woodbine on December 26. Bradley Grant and trainer Tony Alagna own the four-year-old by Dali that won all of her four starts in 2014.

The Worldly Beauty series will open on January 9 with the second leg on January 16 and the $47,600 final slated for January 24.

Post time for the Friday card, which features the usual pair of guaranteed pick fours ($25k/$50k) and a pick five promised at $30k is 7:15 p.m.