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Napolitano wins five at Big M; Rockeyed Optimist repeats

IdaBet Players ought to know that after Scott Zeron’s grand slam on Friday, driver Anthony Napolitano one-upped his youthful rival on Saturday (March 5) evening at The Meadowlands, winning five of the 13 races.

 

After a pillar-to-post win in the opener with Sweet Justice ($10.80, 1:55.2), the 34-year-old Napolitano prevailed with odds-on favorite Honey I’m Home ($3.40, 1:52) in the third before back-to-back minor upsets in the seventh and eighth with K Slater ($19.80, 1:52.2) and K-Lees Shakenbake ($15.80, 1:50.1) respectively.  Napolitano closed the night on a winning note, teaming up with Alex Bullville ($5.20, 1:53.4) in the finale.

 

In the featured $25,000 Open Handicap Pace, Rockeyed Optimist ($3.00) lived up to odds-on billing, holding off a ferocious late rally from Dovuto Hanover for a 1:50.2 triumph.  The 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding floated into midfield from his outside post in the sextet, settling four lengths behind early pacesetter Real Nice (Anthony Napolitano) through a :27 first quarter before Andy McCarthy brushed Rockeyed Optimist to the fore up the backstretch.  Rockeyed Optimist’s lead was never in jeopardy until the final sixteenth, as 3-1 second choice Dovuto Hanover (Scott Zeron) surged off the cover of Take It Back Terry (Joe Bongiorno) to give chase.  Rockeyed Optimist had enough left to hold sway, prevailing by a diminishing half length.  Take It Back Terry, who flattened off the far turn, found more in the stretch, saving third.

 

Steve Elliott trains 17-time winner Rockeyed Optimist for Anthony Perretti, Virginia Berkner, the A and B Stable, and Joseph Battaglia.  For Rockeyed Optimist, it was his second win in three starts this season.

 

Total handle for the 13-race card was $3,015,013, marking an increase of $41,167 over the corresponding Saturday in 2015 and the tenth program in the last 11 at The Meadowlands with over $3 million in betting turnover.   Racing continues to be competitive in northern New Jersey, with 17 of 26 favorites defeated in the first weekend of March.

 

Heading to next Friday’s (March 11) program, over $124,500 will carry over into the final-race 20¢ Jackpot High 5.  Punters and horsemen alike are reminded that post time at The Meadowlands shifts to 7:15 p.m. Eastern effective next week.