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BIG M FANS ‘LET IT RIDE’ AS HANDLE TOPS $4.5 MILLION

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Handle reached remarkable heights and Let It Ride N stamped himself as the top harness horse currently in training on an eventful Saturday night at The Meadowlands.
Wagering on the 15-race program totaled $4,562,477, which topped the “non-event” 2020 best of $4.1 million on June 20, when there were 18 races on the card. The average per race was $304,165, a number not seen since Hambletonian Day, when an average of $358,163 was put in play.
From the get-go Saturday, the action was fast and furious, as $565,076 was bet in the first race, thanks to $314,217 in “new money” wagered into the 20-cent Pick-5, which saw a total pool of $360,948 after the carryover of $46,731 was added in.
Another $468,040 was wagered on the sixth race, due in large part to an Early 50-cent Pick-4 pool of $120,947. The Late 50-cent Pick-4 was predictably popular as well, with $102,248 in action leading to $351,354 in total play. The single-race $350,000 barrier would be broken four times during the night.
RIDE, RIDE, RIDE: The incredible early success of the Nifty Norman-trained Let It Ride N continued in the featured $28,000 Open/Preferred Handicap for pacers, as the 8-year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven-Love A Gamble stayed perfect in five North American starts since his arrival from Australia in late November.
Driver Dexter Dunn didn’t ask Let It Ride N for big speed at the start, settling in seventh along the rail from post nine in the nine-horse field around the first turn. Searching for a second consecutive score, Harambe Deo set a fast pace, hitting the quarter in :26.1.
Before the half, Dunn had Let It Ride N racing on the rim, following the first-over Rock Diamonds N as Harambe Deo paced the half in :53.2. Nearing the five-eighths, Rock Diamonds N started to back up in the 1-2 favorite’s face, so Dunn had to move three-wide likely earlier than he would have liked.
It didn’t matter.
“He had no choice [but to move him],” said Norman of Dunn’s aggressiveness. “But the horse has a huge kick and seems to be able to carry his speed a long way.”
Let It Ride N gobbled up ground while three-wide around the far turn and collared Harambe Deo shortly after they straightened up in the stretch before blowing his foes away in a thoroughly dominant performance, scoring by 2 lengths over the late-rallying Hesa Kingslayer N after pacing his final quarter in :26.1. Vettel N closed for third. Highalator, the 9-2 second choice, finished seventh, with Harambe Deo (7-1) eighth.
“He really amazed me,” said Norman of his prized pupil. “He doesn’t seem to have any bottom in him. I’m in shock again tonight. He’s got an amazing brush. What impressed me the most, is once he passed Harambe Deo, he kicked off again like he had another gear.”
Let It Ride N, who won at The Meadowlands on Dec. 12 in 1:48.4 and now has three wins at the mile oval, lowered his lifetime best to 1:48.1. He’s now won 23-of-59 lifetime starts and earned $360,958 for owners Enzed Racing Stable Inc.
“He’s 8 years old,” said Norman. “You don’t expect 8-year-olds to do this. All I’ve done is put him on Lasix, so he must have been bleeding back home. Next, I’ll take him to Yonkers to see if he can get around a half-mile track. We might try the [Borgata] series there. I’m going to have to stake him to some races this year. He looks like he can be a Grand Circuit horse. I have to give him that chance.”
A LITTLE MORE: Dunn and Yannick Gingras picked up right where they left off in 2020, as each won three times on the card. … Norman had a training double, as did Stacy Chiodo. … Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. … The Big M will race every Friday and Saturday from now through Hambletonian Day, Aug. 7.


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