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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – It’s Academic and Beads both displayed high speed while winning the two $50,000 harness racing divisions of the opening leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old Open trotters at The Meadowlands Saturday night.

It’s Academic, off a win at Scioto Downs in the Charlie Hill Memorial, had the confidence of his driver heading into the race.

“He’s a beauty to drive,” said Yannick Gingras before the Graduate. “He’s super sharp and should perform well tonight.”

He did just that.

It’s Academic (Uncle Peter) had to work hard from post four in the nine-horse field to make the front, unable to clear past El Ideal until the half while parked in a snappy :54.2. Things did not get any easier for the Ron Burke trainee from there, as pressure would come from Ab’sattitudexpress to three-quarters, which was timed in 1:23.4.

Gingras then coaxed a burst of energy from the son of Uncle Peter-Annapolis to get clear by 2½ lengths as they straightened up in the stretch and was cruising through the lane to an apparent easy win.

But Hypnotic AM emerged off a third-over trip and was flying late. “I did get a third-quarter breather,” said Gingras. “But I almost got caught sleeping there. The wire came just in time.”

It’s Academic, who’s now won 17-of-32 starts and earned $585,688 lifetime, paid $3.60 to win as the 4-5 favorite and finished a head in front of Hypnotic AM in 1:51.1. Hillexotic was third.

Beads brought his ‘A’ game in the second Graduate split, powering down the road in a season’s-best-equaling 1:50.2 on the trot, a time that he established in a Big M qualifier eight days ago.

“They told me the best way to get along with him is to keep him busy, talk to him a lot,” said winning driver Dave Miller, who was behind the son of Archangel-Nepentha for the first time. “So I did and he felt comfortable the whole way.”

Beads (Archangel) fired off the gate from post six and was on the point while parked in :26.4. The Per Engblom trainee then reached the half in :55 and three-quarters in 1:23.4, and off that middle-half of :57, had little trouble sprinting away from the pocket-sitting Sorella, who weakened and finished sixth.

The winner hit the finish 2¼ lengths in front of Amigo Volo to lift his lifetime stats to eight wins from 25 starts and earnings of $296,713. Moon Bridge was third. Lovedbythemasses, the 8-5 public choice, broke just after the start and finished seventh in the eight-horse field.

“He’s not the handiest or the quickest on the turns,” said Miller of Beads. “But at the head of the stretch I talked to my horse and he took off.”

Beads returned $11.00 to win as the third choice in the wagering.

ROCKING THE CLOCK: Nicholas Beach, trained by Jenn Bongiorno and driver by her brother Joe, equaled the fastest mile of the year in harness racing of 1:47.2 when he ripped out of the pocket as the 8-5 second choice to gun down leader American History, the even-money favorite who had established the mark last week. This Is The Plan, who won the Borgata Series Final at Yonkers in his last start, shrugged off a 33-day layoff to miss a fast-charging nose in the $30,000 Open-Preferred Handicap for pacers. American History held third.

Lyons Sentinel exploded home after going a third-over trip to take the $37,500 first leg of the Kissin In The Sand Series for Open Mares at odds of 20-1 for trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick. Her final time of 1:48.2 was a lifetime best and equaled Soho Burning Love A’s time for fastest female pacer of 2021, established seven days ago.

A LITTLE MORE: Gingras and Tetrick both drove three winners on the card. Gingras finished the weekend with a half-dozen victories. … All-source handle totaled $3,730,993, the seventh consecutive Saturday to see betting bust the $3.5-million barrier. … Live racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.