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Stage Set For Meadowlands Pace

Published: July 7, 2018 8:56 pm ET

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The eliminations for this year’s Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace highlighted the Saturday evening program at The Meadowlands, but the undercard was nothing to sneeze at.

Here's a complete recap of the major events:

$50,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace – Elim #1

Stay Hungry parlayed a sweet, second-over trip into a career-best clocking of 1:49 for driver Doug McNair and trainer Tony Alagna. Sent off as the second choice in the wagering, the son of Somebeachsomewhere-My Little Dragon potted his second win of the year for owner Brad Grant of Milton, Ont.

Hayden Hanover shot to the early lead and had the field tracking him past the opening quarter in :27.2. Even-money favourite Nutcracker Sweet blasted out of the three-hole and rushed to the lead in the backstretch, and from there he cruised through middle splits of :55.1 and 1:23. Ideal Feeling put heat on the leader around the final turn, but it was Stay Hungry who kicked off cover with fresh legs and swept to the lead and the win. Rounding out the top five finishers in the first elimination were Hayden Hanover, Thinkbig Dreambig, Nutcracker Sweet and This Is The Plan.

“(The trip) worked out great and he got the job done,” said Doug McNair. “The trips have not worked out 100 percent for him.”

“He’s come back well,” said trainer Tony Alagna. “The five-eighths mile racing is really not his forte (he finished fourth at Pocono in the Hempt). Everything came together tonight.”

The victory improved the O’Brien Award winner’s 2018 record to 2-0-2 from six trips postward. The eight-time winner upped his lifetime earnings to $728,760 with the win.

$50,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace - Elim #2

Courtly Choice survived a tough, first-over trip to take home top honours in his ‘Pace’ elim for the tandem of driver David Miller and trainer Blake MacIntosh.

Supplemented to the event for more than $60,000, the son of Art Major-Lady Ashlee Ann got away third while the other supplemental entry to this year’s event – Jimmy Freight – rolled to the lead and hustled the field through panels of :27, :54.2 and 1:22.2. Courtly Choice pressed the leader around the final turn before putting him away and fending off backfield challengers. Courtly Choice halted the teletimer in 1:48.2 en route to defeating American History. Jimmy Freight and Dorsoduro Hanover finished in a dead heat for third, leaving Babes Dig Me with the fifth-place finish.

“I actually got away where I expected to,” said David Miller. “He felt really strong. I asked him and he paced really hard. He’s got big lungs and can carry his speed.”

“From last year to this year, he’s really matured,” said trainer Blake MacIntosh. “He loves to race now.”

Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe and Touch Stone Farms share ownership on the speedball who now boasts a 5-for-7 record this season. The seven-time winner will try to add to his $186,795 bankroll.

Here's how the field will line up behind the gate for next Saturday's final:

$701,830 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace
1. Stay Hungry - 3-1
2. This Is The Plan - 15-1
3. American History - 5-1
4. Jimmy Freight - 9/2
5. Courtly Choice - 5/2
6. Nutcracker Sweet - 15-1
7. Hayden Hanover - 8-1
8. Thinkbig Dreambig - 12-1
9. Babes Dig Me - 30-1
10. Dorsoduro Hanover - 15-1

$250,000 Graduate Series Final – Four-Year-Old Open Pace

Donttellmeagain matched the world record for a four-year-old gelding on a mile track when he sizzled to a 1:47.2 score for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Jim King, Jr.

The son of Dragon Again-Donttellmewhattodo watched Western Joe chop out the opening quarter in :26.2 before looping past that foe and grabbing the lead. It was a short-lived lead, however, as Miso Fast rocketed past him on the way to the mid-way point. Miso Fast his the half in :53.2 and the three-quarter pole in 1:20.2 before Tetrick angled Donttellmeagain back to the outside. Donttellmeagain had enough in reserve to wrestle away the lead from Miso Fast, and he went on to post the win over Miso Fast and Western Joe.

“I had to make a decision,” winning driver Tim Tetrick said. “I knew (Miso Fast) was going to get an easy lead and if I gave him four or five lengths I wasn’t going to be able to beat him. I made a quick decision and got up there quick and got to follow the horse I had to beat, I thought.

“He’s chased at them and given them a run,” Tetrick added. “They knew that he was in the race every time. The little guy is the little engine that could and it fits him pretty good.”

Paton Racing Stables Inc of Lambertville, NJ owns the gelding who now boasts a 2-2-0 record from six trips to the track in 2018. The 15-time winner boosted his lifetime earnings to $432,710.

$250,000 Graduate Series Final – Four-Year-Old Open Trot

Ariana G hasn’t been herself in recent weeks for trainer Jimmy Takter, but she was a combination of deadly, vicious and ruthless in her Saturday evening assignment.

The four-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Cantab It All posted back-to-back sub-par performances prior to Saturday’s world record-setting performance of 1:50.2 over nine of the sport’s top four-year-old square gaiters. The time was the fastest ever by a four-year-old female trotter on a mile track. The previous record of 1:51 was shared by three mares: Mistery Woman in 2014, Hannelore Hanover in 2016 and Emoticon Hanover in 2017.

Yannick Gingras hustled the 3-2 favourite to the lead from Post 8, and he never let his foot off the accelerator. After going unchallenged past the quarter in :27.3, Ariana G came under attack from a parked out International Moni. Gingras fed that one his lunch by parking him through middle splits of :55.2 and 1:23.2. Ariana G smoked home in :27 to win by a comfortable margin over Moonshiner Hanover. Sortie was third.

“She was awesome tonight,” winning trainer Jimmy Takter said. “I’m so glad she’s where she belongs. She went up to Canada (in June) and her blood work was wrong and she scoped bad and I had to give her a little time to rebound from that. She had a good winter, so I knew she was in top-level form, it’s just those things happen when they get sick.”

“I wanted to keep (International Moni) out there,” Gingras said. “He didn’t look like he had as much trot as I did. My mare felt so strong. I was going to take matters into my own hands and she showed it. I told Jimmy it was a taxing half (mile) and I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I was going to win, but in the last turn she started to swell up and felt so, so strong. I knew something would have to happen for her to get beat tonight.”

Bred and owned by Ontario partners Marvin Katz of Toronto and Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ariana G won for the second time this season from four attempts. The 23-time winner saw her lifetime cash stash jump to $2,132,422 with the victory.

$66,200 Mary Reynolds – Three-Year-Old Filly Trot

Lima Novelty was an ultra-impressive winner against her sophomore foes, and in doing so she made the day for a number of longshot players.

Sent off at odds of 16-1, the daughter of Chapter Seven-No Pictures was parked in the early going while Ciao Dolce and Lucky Ava battled to the quarter pole in :28.4. Lucky Ava cleared to the top, but only for a brief moment. Fury Road swept past that foe, and just as she did she came under pressure from Lima Royalty. Those two trotted past the half in :56.3 before Lima Royalty muscled to the top. From there she opened up on her foes past the three-quarter pole in 1:24.3. She used a :27.3 final frame to win convincingly over Lucky Ava and Ciao Dolce.

Linda Toscano trains the trotting lass for Kenneth Jacobs of Baldwinsville, NY. The win improved her 2018 record to 3-0-3 from seven assignments, and the lion’s share of the loot bumped her overall bankroll to $162,052.

(With quotes from Meadowlands and USTA)

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