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MUSCLE DIAMOND ALL THE WAY IN BIG M TOP TROT

Friday, February 3, 2017

Stakes-winning trotter Muscle Diamond continued his comeback with a front-end score in the $18,000 top trot at the Meadowlands on Friday night.

John Campbell made the front through an opening quarter mile in 28 and maintained the lead over the pocket-sitting Crosbys Clam Bake after a 57 second half mile. Positions remained unchanged through three-quarters in 1:26 as the 9-10 favorite was asked to sprint by Campbell. Muscle Diamond, third in the 2015 Breeders Crown 3YO Trot, held off the late charge of Crosbys Clam Bake and B Yoyo to win for the third time in five starts since returning from a one year layoff. The final time was 1:53.4.

“I was happy he responded on the front end tonight,” said trainer and co-owner Brett Bittle. “It’s not his strong suit. He seems to be getting stronger each week and going in the right direction.”

With February stakes payments looming, Bittle said Muscle Diamond could have added-money events on his schedule later this season.

“We’ll try and pick a few spots, but not go crazy,” said Bittle. “He’s a very nice horse with a very high turn of speed, but he’ll need to improve to go with the very top group.”

Campbell won his second race of the evening in the nightcap, piloting 16-1 longshot Mac’s Secure to a new lifetime best.

Jim Marohn, Jr. and Joe Bongiorno also posted driving doubles during the 11-race card.

One night after betting favorites won all nine races on the card; long shots ruled the night as the “chalk” won just two of 11 races. The average $2 win price was more than $14.

Total handle was $2,161,092.

Live racing resumes Friday with an 11-race card. Post time is 7:15 p.m.

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