By Ken Weingartner, USTA
Ahundreddollarbill, who has finished off the board only once in his past nine races, will look to make it back-to-back wins in the Open 2/Open 1 Handicap Trot at The Meadowlands when he faces nine rivals in the $45,000 event on Saturday.
A 5-year-old gelding, Ahundreddollarbill was assigned the outermost spot on the starting gate, post 10, and is the 3-1 morning-line favorite with Todd McCarthy in the sulky for trainer Tony Alagna.
Last week, Ahundreddollarbill won by a length over Inaminute Hanover in 1:53.2 as the 2-1 second choice in the wagering. He has three wins, four seconds, and a third in nine races dating back to October.
“I’ve been very pleased with him,” said McCarthy, who has been behind Ahundreddollarbill in all three of his starts in 2023 and nine other times in the previous two seasons. “He’s a lovely horse to drive and he’s definitely come back a little more mature this year. Tony has done a great job with him teaching him how to race; he’s settling in a little better.
“He used to get a little aggressive sometimes. Nothing crazy, but it can definitely take a toll on them when they’re racing good company. The fact he’s learned to settle down is definitely going to benefit him this year. He’s come back really well.”
Ahundreddollarbill, a son of Chapter Seven-Swinging Royalty owned by Crawford Farms Racing and James Crawford IV, has won 15 of 38 career races and earned $843,219. He counts the 2021 Canadian Trotting Classic among his victories, and his full brother Slay won the CTC last year for the same connections.
“I think his versatility is his best attribute,” McCarthy said about Ahundreddollarbill. “He’s really good off a helmet and we’ve seen he can do it on the front end too. And he’s got good gate speed. I that’s the best you can ask for in a racehorse, that they can do a bit of everything. As a driver, it makes life a lot easier.”
Hillexotic, who starts Saturday night from post nine, is the 7-2 second choice in the Open 2/Open 1 Handicap. Mississippi Storm, leaving from post two, is next at 9-2.
“Everyone knows the 10 hole at The Meadowlands is certainly a tough spot to start from,” McCarthy said. “I like to see how they feel on the gate and make a decision from there.”
McCarthy is coming off a memorable 2022 season that saw the 30-year-old native of Australia drive two Dan Patch Award recipients — Hambletonian champ Cool Papa Bell and North America Cup and Breeders Crown winner Pebble Beach. McCarthy ranked sixth among all drivers in purses last year, with $9.44 million.
“It’s a cliché to say, but honestly, it’s just a dream come true,” said McCarthy, who was the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s 2021 Rising Star Award winner. “The way it worked out throughout the year was unbelievable. I felt like I had a lot of good luck. I had a lot of great trainers and owners supporting me throughout the year, too, willing to give me a shot. I’m just really grateful for that.
“Obviously, those kinds of races, guys have been trying to win them their whole lives. They’re certainly hard to win so I don’t take it for granted. I like to keep looking forward. It’s a pretty unpredictable sport sometimes, so I just try to keep my head straight and do the best I can. I just hope that I can continue doing my job well and see how the season shakes out from there.”