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Back-to-back $3M nights at The Meadowlands; Real Nice, Zeron impress
Sunday, January 31, 2016 - by James Witherite, Meadowlands Media Relations

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East Rutherford, NJ --- Just like the night before, Saturday (January 30) night's harness racing program at The Meadowlands attracted over $3 million in total handle, and millionaire pacer Real Nice ($7.60) sustained a first-over push to capture the evening's featured $16,000 top-level conditioned pace. Driver Scott Zeron posted six wins on the night.


All-sources handle for the 14-race card was $3,087,871, a healthy increase of $240,642 from the corresponding Saturday card in 2015, with both live and export handle showing gains over the previous year.


In the night's top pace, Real Nice settled into a comfortable mid-pack stalking spot, situated well off a :26.3 initial quarter from pacesetter Sweet Beach (Brett Miller).  On approach to race's midpoint, Scott Zeron angled the 11-year-old Real Artist gelding off the pegs to head the outer flow, but Real Nice didn't gear up in earnest until well after a :54.1 half.  On the far turn, Real Nice made up four lengths through a :27.3 third split, continuing on to duel with Sweet Beach off the far turn.  The now 54-time winner ultimately took charge in the final sixteenth, fully extended to just collar Sweet Beach and narrowly stave off the flying 66-1 longshot First Of Itskind (Jim Marohn, Jr.) for the slimmest of victories in 1:49.4.  Lukewarm 5-2 favorite Kingofthejungle (Andy Miller) only could muster a fourth-place finish after angling second-over a quarter from home and not accelerating until the final 70 yards.


Scott Blackler trains Real Nice--who recorded his third consecutive victory in tonight's feature--for Anthony Scussel and the Lightning 5 racing stable.  Blackler also found victory with Santanna Star ($2.60, 1:52.4) and Ethan Hanover ($23.80, 1:51), teaming up with Zeron on both occasions.  The 26-year-old Zeron led all drivers with six wins on the night, also aboard Wayward Son ($63.60, 1:52.3), Hope for Badlands ($7.20, 1:52), and Giant Slayer ($6.80, 1:52.1).


The sub-featured $13,000 third-level conditioned pace saw Starsky's Dream N ($6.20) work to the fore early after losing cover upon reaching the backstretch, rate a :57 middle half, and stave off a sustained first-over bid from Pansformative while accelerating to a half-length, 1:51.1 win.  Tim Tetrick drove the 11-time winner for owner Richard Poillucci and trainer Kelvin Harrison.


Heading to the upcoming Friday (February 5) program, not only will both .20 Jackpot High 5 wagers carry over ($14,981 to the seventh race; $73,603 to the finale), but the .50 Pick-5 will also see added money in the pool, with $18,653 carrying over after Saturday's punters were stymied by 16-1 and 30-1 winners in the sequence.  Post time will be 6:35 p.m. Eastern.



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