Real Babe handed the heavily favored Maven her first defeat of the 2013 campaign in the first $20,000 leg of the Ima Lula trotting series for four year old mares.
Joe Bongiorno was in from Saratoga for the card and picked up the drive on Real Babe for trainer Mark Harder. Joe got the mare away second and when the dust settled moved her to the front through a comfortable 56.1 half. The pair would face no pressure until very late and Real Babe required minimal encouragement from Bongiorno.
Maven meanwhile followed stablemate D'Orsay up into striking position off the final bend but could not track the winner down through a 28.1 end to a 1:53.2 mile.
The mile is a career best for the regally bred daughter of Donato Hanover from Housethatruthbuilt and sets her up nicely for the balance of the series which concludes on #Hambo13 Day, August 3. Emilio and Maria Rosati of New South Wales, Australia are the proud owners. It was one of three wins on the night for Bongiorno. Personal Style finished third while Check Me Out rallied boldly from last at the top of the stretch to finish a very fast-closing fourth. The Ima Lula Final on Hambletonian Day is shaping up to be a classic.
Thanks to large fields and competitive racing, total handle showed an increase of 25-percent when compared to the same Saturday program one year ago, despite the Meadowlands regular drivers being scattered around North America due to major stakes action.
Racing returns on Friday with the Eliminations for The Merrie Annabelle and Peter Haughton Memorial. Saturday features Eliminations for The Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Lady Liberty, New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey as well as the second leg of The Ima Lula Series. Post Time for both programs is 7:15 P.M.
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