This Saturday’s Rags to Riches Final is an opportunity for both claiming horses and Meadowlands fans to cash in big.
The series gave owners of low level claimers the opportunity to race for a flashy $127,950 purse in the final. The Rags To Riches was restricted to three-year-olds and up who have started for a base claiming price of $10,000 or less once in their last four starts up to and including January 20, 2011. The four-week series began with 81 contenders who were whittled down to a final field of 10 horses that will race for Saturday’s jackpot.
The accompanying Rags To Riches promotion put fans in the owners box over the course of the series. Those who received a horse’s name at random in the first round, and were in attendance each week to follow their horse, now have a chance at winning a cash prize equivalent to five percent of their horse’s purse earnings in the final. If there is more than one ticket holder for a horse, prize money for that position will be equally distributed among each ticket holder.
There are 25 fans, holding tickets for eight of the 10 Rags To Riches horses, still in contention for prize money. On Saturday night, they will receive free admission, a pass to the winner’s circle to watch the Rags to Riches Final and the chance to participate in the trophy presentation and photo.
The finalists in the Rags To Riches (with drivers and odds) from the rail out are: Rockin Glass (David Miller) 4-1; Oscar Oscar (Andy Miller) 9-5; Laguna Beach (Yannick Gingras) 8-1; In Kenny's Honor (Ron Pierce) 20-1; Alastair Hanover (Tim Tetrick) 5-1; Float Blue Chip (Simon Allard) 15-1; Tyree (Pat Berry) 20-1; Blade Runner (Daniel Dube) 15-1; Colonel Moffitt (Brian Sears) 7-2; and Jk Kinahurra (Marcus Johansson) 20-1.
Drivers of some of the key contenders weighed in about their chances in the tenth race feature, including Andy Miller, who will leave from post two with the favorite Oscar Oscar. The son of Western Terror has been a dominant winner in all three legs from outside posts, and took a lifetime mark of 1:51.1 in the second bracket. Oscar Oscar is a perfect four-for-four at the Meadowlands in 2012.
“[Co-owner] Tracy Brainard sent him to us about two months ago,” said Miller, whose wife, Julie, trains the six-year-old gelding with a mark of 1:49.4. “He had basically been racing at the $10,000 claiming level at Dover Downs. He’s obviously a much better horse than a ten claimer when he gets sound. He had a little knee trouble, that’s sound now, and has been feeling pretty good for the last little while. He has been winning pretty handily and has some back class to him. We don’t do much work with him between races, and he’s been pretty easy on himself. There are some others racing well like Colonel Moffitt. I’m sure they’ll mix it up going for that kind of money and it’ll be a great race. The purse is crazy, but it’s exciting, especially with all of the fans involved.”
The same combination of Julie Miller, and owners Tracy Brainard of De Leon Springs, FL, and Andrew Herzog of Monticello, NY also have Rags to Riches finalist JK Kinahurra, who leaves from post 10 with Marcus Johansson driving.
Tim Tetrick gets the call on Alastair Hanover from post five. The seven-year-old by Dragon Again was a 1:52.1 winner in the second bracket for trainer Yogi Sheridan and the Racing Team of America of Newport, VT.
“I’m certainly hoping we’re the ones to upset Oscar Oscar,” said Tetrick. “He’s raced really well in this series. The first week I over-raced him. I think he likes a little target and he should get one this time. He’s coming into the race in top form. He was great into the wind last week and just got beat by a good horse in Rockin Glass. He’s got some class and what makes him so nice is, he’s so handy. You can race him either way. He’s got gate speed. He’s very quick-footed; you can leave with him and settle in maybe third on the rail. He makes my job a lot easier. He won in 1:50.4 for me at Chester last year, and I’m sure he just went through a rough spell. They got him down that road and he’s working his way back up. It’s pretty amazing to be going for that kind of a purse with these horses. It’s great for the people that have them and it’s awesome for the fans who win a piece of that purse.”
Brian Sears handles Colonel Moffitt from post nine. The eight-year-old gelding by Real Artist scored back-to-back wins in the first (1:53.2) and second (1:51.1) brackets for trainer Nat Varty and owner Candace Cirasuola of Durand, MI.
“Colonel Moffitt is a real trippy horse,” noted Sears. “I wish I had drawn inside closer to Oscar Oscar. Oscar Oscar clearly has the post position advantage and we can only hope they mix it up pretty good. My horse has improved through this series to where he’s super sharp, but he needs a trip to show his good turn of speed. Racing for that kind of money with these horses is pretty much unheard of, but it’s going to be nice for somebody.”
Varty also sends out another two-time winner in the series, Rockin Glass, for owner Brad Gray of Dundas, Ontario. He has drawn the rail with Dave Miller in the bike.
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