by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
A big night awaits as the annual Arthur Cutler Memorial Trot takes place at The Big M. Normally held on the first Saturday evening in May (there is a famous thoroughbred race that day, too), the Cutler has always featured some of the best veteran trotters at the famed Meadowlands oval. Like many events, the pandemic has pushed things back and in this case cut the purse to $170,900, but postponing beats cancelling any day of the week.
This year’s field is headlined by two superfillies—2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta and rival Manchego, who on that same day captured the Hambletonian Oaks. Atlanta is 0-1-0 in her only start this year while Manchego has two wins in two starts this year.
This year’s race was limited to 11 and thus, will run at the conventional one-mile distance. In the past, the race allowed for 12 starters and because of that was contested at 1 1/8 miles, but Meadowlands track owner Jeff Gural vowed to get away from longer distance races and try to keep the classic mile distance intact.
The field is solid. Another filly, Plunge Blue Chip is making her 2020 debut and back in 2018, she, along with Manchego and Atlanta were the top fillies. In fact, pundits joked that Atlanta ran in the Hambletonian to avoid matching up with Plunge Blue Chip and Manchego, the latter who blazed home in 1:50 to win the Oaks.
Atlanta is trained by Ron Burke and will be driven by Yannick Gingras, with Dexter Dunn driving Manchego for Nancy Takter.
Southwind Chrome is 2-1-0 in three starts his $28,937 in earnings this year is second only to Manchego. Scott Zeron is in the bike for Jeff Cullipher.
The full field with driver/trainer:
- Mission Accepted Kakaley/Burke
- Chin Chin Hall Sears/Norman
- Southwind Chrome Zeron/Cullipher
- Joey Bats McCarthy/Harris
- Atlanta Gingras/Burke
- Manchego Dunn/Takter
- Crystal Fashion Miller/Campbell
- Lindy the Great Miller/J. Miller
- Plunge Blue Chip Svanstedt/Svanstedt
- Rich and Miserable Tyler Buter/Todd Buter
- Guardian Angel As Tim Tetrick/Lorentzon
The top three in the morning betting line are Manchego at 7/2, Atlanta at 3/1 and Guardian Angel As at 4/1. Post time is scheduled for 9:35 pm ET.
The undercard features three divisions of the Graduate Series for 4-year old pacers with each racing for $50,000. They’ll be races four, six and ten. Race four is headlined by Warrawee Ubeat who will be driven by Gingras. Century Farroh is morning-line favorite in race 6 while Bettor’s Wish will be the one to beat in race 10.
The $22,500 Preferred Open features Caviart Ally who last year thrilled all with her duels with Shartin N. In fact, last week, Shartin N beat Caviart Ally in the Filly and Mare Open at Yonkers and tonight she’ll have to deal with seven others including the always tough Kissin In The Sand.
As for Shartin N, she’ll run on Sunday at Harrah’s Philadelphia in a condition race for $20,000. She will come out of the eight hole on the 5/8 mile track which shouldn’t be a problem. Last week at Yonkers—a half-mile track—she overcame post eight to win. She’s the 6-5 heavy favorite who should get a test from JKs American Beauty.
One of Vernon’s Downs’s big races is set for Saturday as the $207,250 Empire Breeders Classic takes center stage on the 7/8 mile surface in New York’s Mohawk Valley.
The race drew 11 3-year old fillies and your morning-line favorite is Love A Good Story. She’s 3/1 for the Millers—driver Andy and trainer Julie. Senorita Rita makes her debut for Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano and driver Scott Zeron and is the second choice at 5/1. Post time is scheduled for 4:10 pm ET.
The stakes season is just getting started and will continue through to November, so prepare accordingly.