BIG M BONANZA AWAITS $11 MILLION MAN ON SUNDAY
By Jeff Scott
Former champion NZ driver Dexter Dunn hit the $11 million in winning purses earlier than expected with a seven-win spree at Dover Downs, Delaware, on Friday (NZ time).
He’s in supreme form for the big $2.8 million card at The Meadowlands, New Jersey, meeting on Sunday (NZ time), where, if he lands more features, could go close to $12 million.
Firstly, he’ll keep the pot boiling with a full book of 12 drives at the Harrah’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, day meeting on Saturday (NZ time) then head to the Meadowlands, New Jersey, night meeting for another 12 drives on the 13-race card there on a moderate programme, including a steer behind former NZ pacer, Whittaker.
After Dover (Friday), Dexter had driven 398 winners in for the year, 315 seconds and 310 thirds, for $US11,046,420 in stakes. Sunday’s big day is likely to see him rocket further up the top leader-boards.
By comparison, NZ’s top driver Blair Orange, for the 12 months of last season and the first four months of this season, has had a combined total of 1390 drives, for 234 wins, 334 seconds and 163 thirds, for $NZ3,123,180 in stakes, including last week’s big NZ double, the $750,000 NZ Cup and $300,025 Dominion Trot.
Dexter, who went to Dover on $10,972,150 in winning purses, left the course a $11 million man after winning the $25,000 feature at Dover with the “Nifty” Norman-trained Bettor Memories in 1:49.3 (fifths), two $18,000 paces, a $16,000 pace, two $10,000 paces, a $9000 pace with the former Ken Barron-trained Never Say Never (6h Bettor’s Delight-Main In Spendour) in 1:51, and a $6500 pace.
Last week, Dexter added another big feature, winning the $248,350 Matron Stakes at Dover Downs (Nov. 14) to his winning record with top 3YO colt Bettor’s Wish, who stopped the timer at 1:49.2 with a comfortable length and three-quarter win.
He also won support races with Slick Tony (1:51), in a $28,500 pace, and the ex-Robert Dunn pacer Tuapeka Trick (5g Bettor’s Delight-Petra’s Star), who led from the eight in a $10,000 pace and held by a nose in 1:52, whle he finished third in the $165,900 Matron 3YO Filly Stakes with Treacherous Reign, to Tall Drink Hanover.
The previous day at Dover, Dexter partnered former good Canterbury mare Dibaba (5m Shadow Play-Imprint), to win a $25,000 fillies and mares open pace for the “Nifty” Norman stable, in 1:51.3 (fifths).
Dibaba, trained last season at Leeston by Terry and Glenys Chmiel to win the Group Two PGG Premier Mares Championship at Addington, is from the same maternal family as promising Kentuckiana Lodge pacer, Cardinal Sin.
Her dam Imprint (1:58.4), is also the three-win Life Sign dam of Opulent (1;54.9, 1684m, Aust), the 18-win dam of Cardinal Sin, who won two of his three spring starts for the Dalgety-Purdon stable.
Dexter won a treble at The Meadowlands last Sunday (NZ time), taking his November record at the Big M to 17 wins from 60 drives at the premier mile track.
Last Sunday, Dex teamed up with his old Cran Dalgety-drive Shineonucrazydiamond (6g Somebeachsomewhere-Bella Shine) to win a $16,000 pace, pressing forward from the wide nine draw to win in 1:51.3 for the Ross Croghan stable.
Shineonucrazydiamond has had a big year in he US, taking a 1:50.2 mile mark at the Meadowlands and earning over $160,000.
He also won with the NZ-bred Franco Totem (6g Changeover-Treaty Franco) to win a $20,000 pace from the six barrier in 1:50.4 for the “Nifty” Norman barn, and Century Churchill to win a $12,500 pace in 1:53.1.
Dexter’s other winners this week include: Tuesday (NZ time), Prince Of Minto ($15,000 pace), 1:54.4, at Dover Downs, Monday (NZ time), Bebop On The Block ($20,000 2YO pace) 1:54.2 at Dover Downs; and Sunday (NZ time), another win with the former Canterbury pacer Billy Badger, who he races on lease, in a $14,500 pace at Harrah’s Philadelphia in 1:53.1
On Sunday’s super card, he drives favourite Manchego (1:49), the world’s fastest trot mare, from the five gate in the $350,000 TVG Open Trot, and his other Breeders Crown champ, Amigo Volo (1:52.3), from the two gate in the $505,000 Valley Victory 2YO colts and geldings Trot Final.
Dexter also partners regular drive and top 3YO colt Bettor’s Wish (1:47.4), who takes on the top older pacers in the $350,000 TVG Open Pace, including top-winning aged free-for-aller, McWicked.
Bettor’s Wish, who will continue to race next year at four as he has only one testicle, will start from the seven barrier.
McWicked, who has a personal best this year of 1:47.2 as a seven-year-old, is the fourth fastest pacer of all time with a career best of 1:46.2, behind Always B Miki and Lather Up (both 1:46), and Cambest (1:46.1, time trial).
The hard-wearing 8YO has the inside running from the four draw. McWicked’s connections have advised this will be his final career start.
McWicked, a son of Falcon Seelster’s top USA-winning son McArdle, has amassed career earnings of $4.9 million, second only to Foiled Again ($7.6 million) as the biggest-winning aged pacer of all time, but the biggest-winning stallion.
Dexter also again partners the Ake Svanstedt-trained Darling Meares S (1:49.4), from the five draw against only four others in the $175,000 TVG Mare Trot, with main danger Atlanta (1:49.1), drawn the ace for the top Ron Burke stable.
He also drives Queen Of The Hill (1:55) for the Per Engblom stable, from the five barrier in the $475,000 Goldsmith Maid 2YO Fillies Trot Final.
His other chance at the big gold on the day comes in the $411,000 Three Diamonds 2YO Fillies Final, where he partners the Linda Toscano-trained Baby Your The Best (1:51.3), a daughter of Captaintreacherous, who has won twice and been six times second in 12 starts, earning $254,607.
Dexter also has other drives on the big day for lesser purses, but still significant.
They include, in the $175,000 TVG Mares Final, Kissin In The Sand (for Nancy Johansson), the 2 1/2 lengths runner-up to champion mare Shartin (1:46.4, fifths, 1:46.8, 10ths), in their $40,000 Dover Downs lead-up on November 13, won in 1:49.4 (fifths).
Shartin (6m Tintin In America-Bagdarin, by Live Or Die-Slatina, by Save Fuel-Kinsale, by Noodlum-Kiatina, by Fallacy-Bravine), bred at Broadfield by Grant Crabbe, will top the $2 million mark in career earnings on Sunday.
She has won 15 and been twice second in 18 starts in 2019, for $940,177 in stakes, while her career record is 34 wins and three seconds from starts for $1,993, 413.
Shartin, sold after coming from fourth of four to sweep past the leaders over the last 400 in 26.9s to win her Ashburton mob. 2400m qualifier in 3:05.4 for Crabbe and driver Craig Thornley on November 15, 2016, initially won seven of 13 Australian 3YO starts for former Victorian trainer Dean Braun.
She showed her class winning both the Tasmanian and Queensland Oaks, and ran former Allstars colt pacer More The Better to a head in the 2017 Queensland Derby, the winner rating 1:56 rate for the 2680m.
Shartin’s fastest winning mile rate in Australia was a 1:52.5 effort over 1720m at three at Melton, beating subsequent 2018 Chariots Of Fire winner JIlliby King Fu (1:48.6), the latter being beaten a head two weeks later by (My) Field Marshal in the 2018 Miracle Mile at Menangle, won in a record 1:46.9.
The Jim King jun-trained and Tim Tetrick-driven Shartin looks unbeatable from the ace this weekend.
Dexter’s other Sunday drives include last-start winner and ex-Canterbury pacer Titanium (1:51.3), from the three draw in a $16,000 pace; Santafe’s Coach (1:52.4), from the five in a $16,000 pace; and form horse Franco Totem (1:50.4), from the six in a $22,500 pace.
Dexter is currently third on the USA Grand Circuit driver standings (20-10-5 points system for 1st, 2nd & 3rd) behind the two he also chases on the top driver earner standings, Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras.
Tetrick has 1366 points, ahead of Gingras with 1278, followed by Dexter on 1019, and David Miller with 940.
The Grand Circuit season ends next weekend at Dover Downs, with a $300,000 3YO pace, which could again feature Bettor’s Wish.