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BETTING TOPS $4 MILLION AT BIG M

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Powered by a pair of races that featured huge action, all-source handle totaled $4,083,026 Saturday night at The Meadowlands, the second time this month where wagering blew past the $4-million plateau.
During all of 2020, the $4-million barrier was broken three times, the first of which did not occur until June 20.
Saturday’s play marked the second-best night of the year, topped only by Jan. 2, when wagering reached $4.5 million. All five Saturday programs during the month of January have seen action of at least $3.4 million.
The 20-cent Pick-5 got things off to a big start, with $105,890 put in the hat, keying the first race grand total of $379,815. The sixth race 50-cent Early Pick-4 took in a 2020-best $135,815 as a total of $417,983 was pushed through the windows on that dash.
Rarely will wagering top $300,000 on the last race of the night, but that’s just what the Big M faithful put in play (actually $300,670) in the 14th event, keyed by an exacta pool that topped $95,000.
The Late Pick-4 saw $107,428 pushed through the windows, marking the second time this year where both Pick-4s reached six figures. The other night (Jan. 2), Pick-4 betting totaled a little more than $223,000 while on Saturday, the total wager was $243,243.
JL ‘CRUZES’: Fan favorite JL Cruze came back to his favorite track and took the featured $22,500 high-end conditioned trot in impressive fashion.
The Eric Ell-trainee rebounded off a sixth-place finish in the Open Handicap at Dover Downs 18 days ago with a crisp performance to get back into the win column for a second consecutive start at The Big M, hitting the wire in 1:54.4 on a night where the real-feel temperature was 19 degrees.
A 10-year-old gelded son of Crazed-Topcat Hall, driver Dexter Dunn guided JL Cruze away quickly from the rail in the nine-horse field with designs on sitting right in behind speed-burner Warrior One.
It worked to perfection.
After Warrior One cut out fractions of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:26.4, Dunn moved JL Cruze from the pocket well before they completed the far turn, took a 1-length lead with three-sixteenths of a mile to go, and drew clear to 2-length win over Buck Dancer. Scirocco Rob was third. Warrior One weakened to finish seventh.
“We had his knees done,” said Ell. “I thought he was about 80 percent heading into the race. He flipped a palate [in his last race] at Dover. The five-eighths mile track doesn’t suit him, but I took him there to put a line on his card so he wouldn’t have to qualify.”
JL Cruze, who was the first trotter to break the 1:50 barrier at The Big M when he went 1:49.4 six years ago, returned $6.80 to his backers as the lukewarm 2-1 favorite. He now has 42 wins from 125 career starts and a bulky bankroll of $1,555,517 for owners W Kenneth Wood, J Dittmar Jr. and S J Iaquinta.
“I hope The Meadowlands keeps filling races for him to go in,” said Ell. “When Dexter pulled him on the turn and he opened up, I said to myself ‘He’s an unbelievable horse. He loves what he does’.”
A LITTLE MORE: Springsteen took the $22,500 featured pace for Todd McCarthy and trainer Brett Pelling from off the pace in 1:51.2 as the 5-1 third choice. … Dunn and Andy McCarthy both recorded driving triples on the card, while Corey Callahan, Todd McCarthy and Yannick Gingras won two apiece. … For a second straight night, the red-hot Jeff Cullipher barn sent two to the winner’s circle. … Chalk players finally had a good night. After only 10 post-time choices had emerged victorious over the three previous race cards, a total of six chalks scored on the program. … Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m.


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