2012 Big M Season Highlights
The 2012 season at the Meadowlands Racetrack was dominated by harness racing’s big names: Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter, Dave Miller and Tony Alagna; hot horses like Itrustyou, Cedar Dove, Chapter Seven, Check Me Out and Golden Receiver; and budding superstars like To Dream On and Captaintreacherous.
Yannick Gingras started fast and finished strong enroute to his first Big M driving title. As the go-to guy for leading trainer Ron Burke, The Green Hornet captured two winter series finals with Itrustyou, who reeled off his first six starts of 2012. Gingras also nailed down his first Meadowlands Pace, going all the way with A Rocknroll Dance in 1:48.1, won the Pace consolation with Hurrikane Kingcole in 1:47.3, streaked to the fastest division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial with Little Brown Fox in 1:51.3, and crushed foes in the Moni Maker with Maven in 1:52.3. At just 33, the Quebec native is well ahead of the pace set by Hall of Famer John Campbell, passing the $80 million mark with 4,000 career wins. It came down to the final two weekends of the meet, and Gingras managed to stay ahead of Tim Tetrick 125 to 123 with a six-pack on August 10 and a triple on closing night, August 17.
Ron Burke followed up his 2011 Trainer of the Year campaign by winning the 2012 Big M Training title with 64 wins, good for $1.5 million in purses. The leading conditioner in the sport for the fourth straight year sent out streaking pacers like Itrustyou and Breakin The Law, and blanketed the overnight programs with well classified and formful stock. Burke retired his two-time division champion Won The West. The richest son of Western Hanover at $3,939,836 is the fastest ever Breeders Crown performer with a mark of 1:47.
Tim Tetrick may have been edged out in the race for the driving title, yet he continued his role as the sport’s number one money winner for the sixth straight year. The Bionic Man capped off the Big M meet with a bang, winning his first Hambletonian with Market Share in 1:52.1 at the age of 30. The Bionic Man also teamed with trainer Linda Toscano to post a world record of 1:50.1 with Chapter Seven in the Nat Ray, which tied the fastest trotting mile ever at the Big M. He won a NJSS Final with Southwind Cocoa, another Toscano trainee. In addition, Tetrick guided Check Me Out to a world record of 1:51.3 in the Del Miller Memorial. He handled a pair of outstanding freshman pacers in Woodrow Wilson winner Captaintreacherous and NJSS champion Johny Rock. Captaintreacherous notched the first ever sub 1:50 mile by a two-year-old at the Big M, 1:49.3. Tetrick was the meet’s leading money winner with $3,457,933.
In his Hall of Fame year, trotting master Jimmy Takter came out guns blazing with the likes of Merrie Annabelle winner To Dream On, NJSS champion Corky, and sophomore standouts Uncle Peter, Little Brown Fox and Valdonna. Takter just missed driving his first Hambletonian winner when he rallied Guccio to finish second by a neck. His stable was the Big M’s top money earner with $1,967,968, averaging $11,182 per starter.
Dave Miller got on roll early in the meet, winning six series finals in the first four months. The Buckeye won his first Hambletonian Oaks with longshot Personal Style in 1:53.1, hooked up with Jimmy Takter’s fearsome freshmen To Dream On and Corky, and pulled off the NJSS Final-Miss New Jersey double with Sarandon Blue Chip. Miller finished second in earnings for the meet with $2,751,037 and third in wins with 108. He also passed the $160 million mark in fourth on the all-time money list.
2012 was a break-out meet for trainer Tony Alagna’s two-year-olds. The native of Illinois unveiled a slew of talented freshmen pacers, including Sweetheart runner-up Nikki Beach, Wilson winner Captaintreacherous and NJJS champion Authorize. Alagna also finished a close third in the Hambletonian with My MVP.
After winning his sixth championship meet title in 2011, Brian Sears continued to be one of the most sought after catch drivers in the sport. The White Knight was on board the Tony Alagna-trained stars Nikki Beach and Authorize, had plenty of seat time behind free for all stalwart Golden Receiver, and was a close second in the Hambletonian Oaks with Win Missy B. He finished fourth in the standings with 102 wins and $2,404,475.
Cedar Dove ruled the ranks of the four-year-old trotting mares for Ron Pierce and Noel Daley, winning the Ima Lula Final and her third straight in the Miss Versatility Series in 1:52.3.
If there was a Horse of the Meet, it would be Golden Receiver. The amazing seven-year-old by Village Jove paced the fastest January mile ever, 1:48, when he was named Horse of the Month. The Mark Harder trainee also captured the Presidential in 1:49.1, and kept it going with victories in the Spring Championship at Woodbine in 1:49.2, the Graduate in 1:48.2, the US Pacing Championship in 1:48, and the William Haughton Memorial in 1:48.2. The Golden One amassed 12 wins in 19 starts and $744,925 through August 17.
Lady Liberty winner Put On A Show joined the sub 1:48 club with a 1:47.3 world record, becoming the fastest female of all-time. Jody Jamieson drove the five-year-old Rocknroll Hanover mare for trainer Chris Ryder.
Panther Hanover also became a sub 1:48 member with a 1:47.2 clocking in the New Jersey Classic. The fastest mile of the meet came courtesy of Hurrikane Kingcole’s dazzling 1:18.2 record three quarters. Sylvain Filion was in the bike for the Big Jim combo of trainer James “Friday” Dean and owner James Carr.
Corey Callahan made a serious impact in the driver standings, cracking the Top 10 for the first time and finishing seventh with 35 wins. The 34-year-old Maryland native capped the 2012 meet winning the Sweetheart with Jerseylicious.
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