EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Harness racing trainer Marcus Melander again heads toward the Hambletonian with a strong contingent as displayed by pupils Dancinginthedark M and Sonofamistery in the two divisions of the $273,500 Stanley Dancer Memorial on Saturday (July 17) at The Meadowlands.
In the first division, driver Tim Tetrick sat slightly off the wings at the field’s dispersal with Dancinginthedark M and settled into fourth while Delayed Hanover hustled to the lead around the first turn. Past the quarter in :27.2, Delayed Hanover asserted himself on the point when Take All Comers advanced first-over and dictated the tempo to a :54.4 half.
With Delayed Hanover speeding to the far turn, Take All Comers forced himself into a tight pocket as Brookview Bolt rolled up the inside but went off stride. Meanwhile, Dancinginthedark M pulled first-over and ranged towards Delayed Hanover nearing three-quarters in 1:23.1.
Dancinginthedark M continued to dig into a stubborn Delayed Hanover in the sprint down the straightaway and downed his rival in the final eighth to win by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:50.1. Take All Comers finished third, but was placed sixth for interference to Brookview Bolt in the backstretch. With the disqualification, fourth-place finisher Tangled Love assumed third.
“He matured a lot during the winter,” winning trainer Marcus Melander said after the race. “He’s really a super horse. He’s very strong – he can go really fast, but what makes him so great is [that] he can keep that speed a long, long time. That’s a big advantage.”
Collecting his seventh win from 12 starts, Dancinginthedark M has now banked $198,309 for owner-breeder Menhammar Stuteri Ab. The Readly Express colt paid $2.40 to win.
DANCINTHEDARK M REPLAY
Sonofamistery sat off dueling leaders before launching to the center of the course and swooping to a 1:50.2 victory in the second Dancer division.
With 4-5 favorite Venerate losing stride into the first turn, driver Brian Sears sent Sonofamistery for the lead to a :27.3 first quarter before Captain Corey kicked out of the pocket and circled to the lead. Cuatro De Julio, racing third, angled first-over up the backside and matched strides with Captain Corey to a :55.3 half.
The pair squabbled into the final turn while Sonofamistery lost ground to three-quarters in 1:23.1. But as the dueling duo grew leg weary in the straightaway, Sears fanned Sonofamistery off the pegs and soared to a 1-1/4-length victory over Captain Corey, with Cuatro De Julio finishing third and Rattle My Cage fourth.
Competing for S R F Stable and Holly Lane Stud East Ltd., Sonofamistery won his fifth race from 15 starts, banking $165,632. The Muscle Hill colt paid $11.00 to win.
For full race results, click here.
by Ray Cotolo, for the Meadowlands