02/14/2012 5:28PM

New Meadowlands: Higher And Higher is peaking


It may be early in the 2012 season, but Higher And Higher, the likely favorite in Friday's $63,750 Cape & Cutter final (race 4), is already at the top of her game. Undefeated on the season she seeks a sweep as the New Meadowlands offers two consecutive nights of stakes finals this weekend.

Higher And Higher an online purchase of trainer-driver and part owner Daryl Bier for $150,000 in October of her three-year-old season, the now-5-year-old daughter of Western Terror has earned more than $380,000 since the purchase in only 29 starts.

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Bier kept Higher And Higher away from the top mares last year with an eye on a bigger and better 5-year-old campaign. "She was owned by Bulletproof and they were barred from racing in Ontario during her 3-year-old season," said Bier. That fact compromised her racing chances, limiting the filly to just 10 starts as a 3-year-old.

With 23 top-three finishes in 25 starts last year, Higher And Higher did most of her racing on the smaller tracks of Chester, Dover, and Pocono before moving up to the big track for this year's Cape & Cutter and probably the Overbid, which is next on her schedule at the New Meadowlands.

The Cape & Cutter final is certain to test Higher And Higher's (post 6) mettle, with leading trainer Ron Burke sending out an arsenal in the final that includes a still-improving Rock N Soul (post 5) as well as first-round winner Ginger And Fred (post 2). It would also be wise not to count out the Chuck Connor Jr.-trained Oceans Motion (post 9) who finished a nose back in a blistering closing effort in first round action.

While the Burke stable gets credit for its success on the training end, the team has proven to excel at finding and purchasing quality horses. Take the likely favorite for Friday's $47,000 Tender Loving Care final (race 10) Winning It. A meager $7,000 yearling purchase at Harrisburg in 2010, the Dragon Again-sired filly was purchased by her current connections - Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and Panhellenic Stable - following a 26-length victory at Prairie Meadows in Iowa. With back-to-back victories in the TLC preliminaries, the speedy filly looks for a sweep despite starting from post 8 on Friday.

More fashionable pedigrees can be found supporting Air Guitar Hanover (post 7) and Jamie Sue (post 5), two fillies looking to break into the winner's column in Friday's final. Air Guitar Hanover  showed promise in stakes action during a six-race freshman campaign for trainer Linda Toscano. Jamie Sue, a consistent if camera-shy daughter of Art Major from the top-producing mare Road To Pandalay ($1.4 million winner Mypanmar), has proven herself in the prelims. Mark Ford trains the filly for owner Bob DiNozzi.