Fall Final Four Elims Complete

Celebrity Bambino, Combustion, Zanatta and Stormalong
Published: November 20, 2022 01:33 am EST

The Meadowlands' card on Saturday (Nov., 19) featured eliminations and prep races for next week’s (Nov. 26) Fall Final Four/TVG Championships Night, and while it might not have offered the big purses that will be up for grabs next week, the racing gave an indication that the big night should provide some exciting action.

Here are the capsules for what transpired in the Fall Final Four eliminations for two-year-olds. All went for purses of $20,000.

Celebrity Bambino, the impressive winner of the Garden State on Nov. 11, delivered on his odds-on 2-5 promise in the Valley Victory elim by a head for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke. Following live cover, he easily trotted past his foes in 1:53.4 on a chilly 36-degree night.

“[The trip] was exactly what we were looking for,” said Gingras. “He had plenty left.”

For winning, Celebrity Bambino will now draw from posts one through six for the $416,200 final. “He’s such a nice horse,” said Gingras. “Now, we are guaranteed a good post for the final.”

Peter Haughton winner Kilmister and Kindergarten champ Volume Eight received byes to the final. Finishing second through eighth, respectively, to gain a spot behind the gate for next week were Kimmeridgian, Up Your Deo, Upstaged, Te Amo Lindy, Point Of Perfect, Purple Lord and Southwind Admiral.

In the first Governor’s Cup elim for male pacers, the Brett Pelling-trained Combustion (Todd McCarthy) emerged from a three-hole trip and went parked around the far turn and through the stretch for a hard-fought neck score at 2-1 over Breeders Crown winner Ammo and El Rey in 1:51.1. Hungry Man finished fourth with Muskateer Hanover fifth to earn spots in next week’s $430,000 final.

Jordan Stratton and Stormalong went a perfect pocket trip in the second elim before storming home late to pull off a 14-1 upset by a head in 1:51.2 for Tony Alagna.

“I wanted to be close to the pace and not locked in like last week [when seventh in the Kindergarten final],” said Stratton. “He didn’t get out until late but once he did, he exploded.”

Finishing second through fifth, respectively, were Cant Stop Lou, Girldad, Save America and Dupree Hanover to earn spots in the final. Handlelikeaporsche, the 3-5 favourite, went parked before weakening and finished last in the field of eight. The Big M’s post position formula will be in effect for the final.

Zanatta fired home in the Three Diamonds elim for filly pacers after going a pocket trip to score by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:52 for Daniel Dube and Jenn Bongiorno as a 14-1 outsider, assuring a good post (one through six) for next week’s $428,400 final. Finishing second through eighth, respectively, and getting a spot in the final were Diamondsnpearls, Strong Poison, Vivians Dream, Hungry For Love, Cultured, Late For Dinner and Proud Mary. Earthwindfire and Kindergarten winner Bellisima Hanover received byes to the final.

With only 10 having declared, there were no eliminations necessary for the Goldsmith Maid. There will be an open draw for the $475,400 event, and the 10 entrants are likely favorite Bond, Blonde Bombshell, Brunella, Check Her Out, Heart On Fire, Mambacita, Quick Stop, Secret Volo, Wild Jiggy S and Yes Please.

Post position draws for all the Final Four races – as well as the four TVG Championship events – will take place Tuesday late afternoon. They will be available when complete at playmeadowlands.com.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: It was a night for upsets as some big-name horses prepped for next week’s TVG Championships.

One week after taking the Preferred for trotters in 1:50.1, Its Academic (Dave Miller driving for Burke), won the $34,500 event for a second straight week, defeating Bella Bellini (who was second as the 8-5 second choice) and Ecurie D DK (sixth as the 6-5 favourite) in 1:51.4 as the 3-1 third choice.

Lous Pearlman (Dexter Dunn for Burke) pulled off a 7-1 upset in the $34,500 Preferred for pacers. Tattoo Artist, the 1-5 public choice, wilted after racing on the front end to three-quarters in 1:21.3. The winner, one of three that Burke sent to victory lane on the night, stopped the clock in 1:49.

BIG MONEY: A rare 50-cent Pick-4 carryover led to some extraordinary action, as $294,995 in “new money” was poured into the pot for a grand total of $344,035. The odds of the winning horses in the sequence – that saw no favorites emerge victorious – were 2-1, 14-1, 3-1 and 14-1. Those who hit cashed in for $3,269.15.

A LITTLE MORE: There were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6 for a second straight time, meaning that players will have a double carryover of $32,429 to shoot for when the bet is offered next on Friday night.

Andy McCarthy led the driver colony with three victories on a night where all-source wagering totaled $2,999,157. Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m.

(Meadowlands; photos of, clockwise from top left, Celebrity Bambino, Combustion, Zanatta and Stormalong)