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Monte Miki Prevails In 'Crown' Photo Finish

Published: October 29, 2021 10:54 pm ET

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Quickly rising to the top of the competitive class of two-year-old pacing colts, Monte Miki prevailed in a photo finish to close out the first night of Breeders Crown championships at The Meadowlands.

Gulf Shores (Yannick Gingras) got the first call leaving from post six before driver Scott Zeron pulled Monte Miki from the pocket early. He got the jump on the progressing Beach Glass (Paul MacDonell), who was forced three-wide briefly then tucked into third as Monte Miki went to the front through a :27.4 first quarter.

"I didn't want to get in a bad spot, but I had open options leaving the gate," said Zeron of his early move to the front. "I didn't know where I'd get away; I easily could have got away fifth or sixth. I was ready for anything. When I got away that close, I eventually wanted to make my way to the front and I protected my spot in that first turn."

After a rated half in :56.4, Beach Glass confronted Monte Miki as they raced by three-quarters in 1:26.1 and turned for home, with 3-1 favourite Pebble Beach (Todd McCarthy) hot on his heels.

As Monte Miki rebuffed Beach Glass, Gulf Shores squeezed through along the pylons for the stretch duel down to the wire. In the end, Monte Miki prevailed by a nose over Gulf Shores in the photo finish, winning in 1:53.2 over the sloppy track. Pebble Beach finished 1-1/4 lengths behind in third.

"It might have looked like [he was headed at one point in the stretch] on TV, but he really never got his nose past us," said Zeron of the stretch battle. "This horse fights like crazy and I'm never worried when I'm up there. I'm only worried about keeping the pace honest, but once he sees another horse, he's really game."

Owned and bred by Velocity Standardbreds of Lebanon, Ohio, the Always B Miki-Montenegro colt is now six-for-seven -- his only loss being a top three finish on the Grand Circuit in the International Stallion Stakes. After starting his career with three wins at Scioto Downs, Monte Miki pulled off a 15-1 stunner in his first stakes start winning the Metro Pace. Proving that victory was no fluke, he completed his sweep of the Breeders Crown elimination and $600,000 final tonight, boosting his bankroll to $751,796.

"We're just really impressed with him," said trainer Mark Evers. "Everything he does just surprises us every week. We can hardly believe it."

Evers celebrated his first Breeders Crown victory following his first appearance in the championship series back in 2003 at The Meadowlands.

"Last time, I had Arts Chip and he came back in the final and drew the nine-hole and salvaged a third out of it," said the Ohio trainer. "That was pretty nice too, but not quite like tonight."

Sent off at odds of 7-2, Monte Miki paid $9.40 to win.

All the recaps from Friday's opening night of Breeders Crown finals can be found in the 2021 Breeders Crown News Centre.

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