The favorite hasn't won the Meadowlands Cup since Marquetry in 1993, but trainer P.G. Johnson is hoping to break that trend when he brings Volponi from New York to New Jersey for Friday's grade II test at Meadowlands. Volponi, who finished second to Burning Roma in the 2002 edition of the $400,000 race, is the 8-5 morning line favorite among its six entrants.
Johnson said Volponi has responded nicely to the cooler weather lately and the 5-year-old son of Cryptoclearance has been "bouncing around the last couple of weeks."
This should be Volponi's last prep race before his expected start in the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Santa Anita. In his last start, Volponi finished third in the Sept. 13 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. That race was nine furlongs, the same distance at the Meadowlands Cup, but it was also on the turf. Volponi has not won a race since last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, but in six starts since that victory, he has also not finished worse than third in mainly graded stakes events.
Dynever, winner of the grade III Lone Star Derby earlier this year, is the second choice on the morning line. Close behind is Bowman's Band, who will be making his first start for trainer Allen Jerkens. Owner Martin Schwartz recently transferred the 5-year-old to Jerkens after he and trainer Michael Matz had a disagreement as to where to campaign the horse.
"If Jerkens can take him a level up, that would be great," said Schwartz of his horse, who thus far has only placed in graded stakes company. His only win this year came in Delaware Park's Brandywine Handicap.
Two starts ago, Bowman's Band ran second in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows, a race that like the Meadowlands Cup, was run at night.
"This will be his fifth start under the lights," said Schwartz. "He's just a cool customer when he comes on the track. He's seasoned, which is an advantage."
James Ryerson will bring Jersey Giant to the paddock Friday night. The trainer said he is still unsure what distance is best for his horse, who comes off a Sept. 13 win in the Skip Trial Stakes at Monmouth.
"I'm not sure a mile-and-an-eighth is his best distance, but I think he deserves another crack at it," said Ryerson. "This was his shot to try and win a big one and we didn't have to go too far to do it. This horse has run with some good horses and beaten some good horses. He's been tested all summer. This is just another step."
The $400,000 Meadowlands Cup (gr. II) is the eighth race on Meadowlands' program Friday evening. The estimated post time is 10:23 p.m. (EST).
Post, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, ML
1--Regal Sanction, Jose Santos, James Jerkens, 6-1
2--Volponi, John Velazquez, Philip G. Johnson, 8-5
3--Unforgettable Max, Jose Ferrer, Ben Perkins Jr., 8-1
4--Bowman's Band, Ramon Dominguez, H. Allen Jerkens, 4-1
5--Dynever, Corey Nakatani, Christophe Clement, 3-1
6--Jersey Giant, Julian Pimentel, James Ryerson, 9-2