Julian Demarco and Richard Disano's North East Bound pressed the early pace set by Johnny Dollar and pulled away through the stretch to win the $150,000 Cliff Hanger Handicap (gr. IIIT) by 2 3/4 lengths Friday night at Meadowlands. Jose Velez Jr. booted the winner home, completing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.78 over the firm turf course. Johnny Dollar, the longest price on the board at 44-1, finished second, 3/4 lengths ahead of Swamp, who closed from just off the pace. El Mirasol and Virginia Carnival finished in a dead heat for fourth, followed by Garbu, Majestic Jove, Buying Rain, Private Slip, Tappat, and 5-2 favorite Inexplicable.
Four-year-old North East Bound (D'Accord -- North East Dancer, by Far North) was bred in Kentucky by his owners and Scott E. Ricker, and is trained by William Perry. The gelding has won four of six starts this year, including a sloppy renewal of the Oceanport Handicap (gr. III). Prior to the Cliff Hanger win, North East Bound finished fourth in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) after winning the $70,000 Battlefield Stakes. North East Bound earned $90,000 for the win, his ninth in 22 career races.
The winner returned $11.60, $7.40, and $5.60. Johnny Dollar paid $26.20 and $15.20, and completed an exacta worth $403.20. Swamp paid $6.60 to show. (Chart, Equibase