Ex-Kentuckiana Lodge driving supremo, Dexter Dunn, again stole the show at the Meadowlands, New Jersey, last weekend, landing the biggest purse on the Saturday card, the $80,000 Home Grown 2YO Pace with smart juvenile, Major Betts.
Dexter again drove the Art Major colt for expatiate Kiwi trainer, Mark Harder, taking an early trail from the ace, then quickly taking control of the race through the second panel.
Major Betts, who Dexter last month reined to win the $US 68,750 International Stallion Stakes 2YO race at Lexington, Kentucky, in a fast 1:49.1 (fifth, third fastest by a 2YO this year), won as he liked on Friday by a length and three-quarters in 1:52.3 (fifths).
This was 11th start for Major Betts, who has now won four and been three times placed for earnings of $134,274.
Dexter’s week extended his yearly driving earnings total to $10.519,554, from 369 wins.
Major Betts was the first of three wins on the Meadowlands Friday card for Dexter, who also won a $16,000 pace with NZ-bred favourite Franco Totem (6g Changeover-Treaty Franco), for another former NZ horseman, Richard “Nifty” Norman.
Franco Totem was also beaten out early from the ace buit took control at the half-mile and won easily by three and a quarter lengths in 1:51, finishing off with a closing quarter in 26.4s.
Dexter was also dominant on the Saturday night card at the Big M, winning four of the 11 races, including the $30,000 Preferred Handicap Trot with top 4YO mare and Breeders Crown champ, Manchego.
Manchego, who Dexter drove to become the world’s fastest 4YO trot mare (1:49) at Lexington last month. was restrained to trot 1:52.4 (fifths) on Friday, winning on the top end by three and three-quarter lengths as she prepares to take on the male trotters in the $350,000 Open Trot at the Meadowlands on November 23.
Dexter lucked out getting the regular drive behind the Nancy Johansson-trained star, now a winner of 27 of 42 lifetime starts for $US2,037,980.
He also teamed up with former Canterbury mare Shezza GNP (6m Art Major-Dontdrinkthendrive), who initially won six of 38 starts for $78,343 in NZ from the West Melton stable of Ken Barron.
Shezza GNP’s best NZ effort was a second to Utmost Delight in last year’s Group One PGG Wrightson NZ Standardbred Breeders Stakes at Addington.
She became a $US100,000 winner for the year for the Peter Tritton stable, having raced 29 times for the year, for five wins and six placings, for just over $102,000.
Shezza GNP has raced for most of the year on the half-mile track at Yonkers, where she’s taken a 1:52.4 (10ths) mile mark.
However, after trailing early from the ace, then hitting the front-end at the half-mile, Dexter had her rolling to a lifetime best of 1:52.2 (10ths) with a 4 and 3/4 lengths win on the mile track on Friday.
Shezza GNP, who had a fastest winning mile rate of 1:55.9 (1980m) at Addington, is the first foal from Dontdrinkthendrive (p3, 1:56), a former consistent 3YO filly, winning four (including two Nevele R Fillies Heats) of 23 start for $43,125 when trained by Cran Dalgety for breeder-owner, Graham Beirne.
Dontdrinkthendrive (In The Pocket-We Love To Party) left another capable Cran Dalgety-trained filly for Mr Beirne in Flying Anvil (p3, 1:55.9 mile rate, 1700m, six wins and three placings in 20 starts for $46,840), also a Nevele R Fillies Heat winner during her brief career.
Subsequently sold to Breckon Farms Ltd in 2013, who bred Shezza GNP, Dontdrinkthendrive changed hands again in 2014, being exported to Queensland, Australia, where she’s left another winner in McArdle gelding, three-race winner Point Oh Five (2:00.7).
Dexter struck again early at the Harrah’s Philadelphia meeting, Pennslyvania, on Sunday (Monday morning NZ time), winning his second on end at that track with the former well-performed NZ pacer Billy Badger.
Billy Badger, who Dexter is racing on lease from NZ owners, Ross an Angela Gordon from the Richard “Nifty” Norman stable, settled fourth from the five barrier in a $US11,000 pace, and closed best late to win by a neck in 1:52.4 (10ths).
The 6YO Art Major-Lady Antebellum gelding also won his previous start at Harrah’s on November 3, with a similar run in a $8500 pace, settling sixth from the five gate and arriving late to win by a head from Take It Back Terry in 1:54.
Billy Badger has won four of 21 starts for the year in North America, for $44,000. He’s taken a 1:50.8 (10ths) mile mark on the mile track at the Meadowlands.
He last raced in NZ when unplaced in Thefixer’s 2018 New Zealand Cup at Addington.
He was exported last December after winning eight of 52 NZ starts for $153,020 from the stable of Dexter’s father, Robert, for the Gordons’.