Confederate, Cannibal Take Meadowlands Pace Eliminations

Published: July 9, 2023 12:19 am EDT

Cannibal and Confederate won Saturday’s (July 8) $50,000 Meadowlands Pace eliminations for three-year-old pacers at The Meadowlands and will start the $668,000 final on July 15 from posts four and five, respectively.

Following the draw, Confederate, who won the faster of the two elims, stopping the clock in 1:47.3, was established as the 6-5 morning-line favourite for the final. Cannibal was made the 4-1 third choice behind Voukefalas, who finished second to Cannibal, at 7-2.

Both elimination winners are owned by Diamond Creek Racing and were bred by Diamond Creek Farm.

Confederate won his elimination by a half-length over El Rey. Christchurch was third and followed across the finish line by Ammo and Stockade Seelster. However, Stockade Seelster went off stride coming out of the last turn and in the stretch and was placed eighth for violating the breaking rule and interference. Save America was sixth-placed-fifth to get the last spot in the final.

In that second elim, Christchurch took the field to the opening quarter in :25.4 and half-mile point in :52.1 as he battled with longshot Lyons Surfing to maintain the lead. Christchurch was still on top as he reached three-quarters in 1:20.1 but Confederate, who was fourth for much of the way, moved three-wide on the last turn and burst down the stretch for the win.

Tim Tetrick drove Confederate, the 1-5 favourite, for trainer Brett Pelling.

“He’s got high speed, he can follow speed, speed is his thing,” Pelling said about Confederate. “He loves to go quick. Timmy thinks he’s OK either way [from in front or off the pace]. He’s raced him a lot more than what I have. But his best runs that I’ve seen have been coming off a helmet.”

Tetrick added that, “He chased big speed and when it was time to go, he got the job done.”

Confederate, who was second by a head in last month’s million-dollar Pepsi North America Cup, has won three of four races this season.

“He’s been perfect,” said Tetrick. “He’s very consistent. He’s just a good drive away from everybody being happy.”

A son of Sweet Lou-Geothermal, Confederate has won eight of 11 lifetime starts and earned $777,825. He paid $2.40 to win.

Cannibal, who was fifth at the half-mile point in the first elimination, rallied off a second-over trip behind favourite Voukefalas to win by a half-length in 1:48.1 for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Nancy Takter. Voukefalas finished second, followed by Its A Me Mario, Hungry Angel Boy and Fulton to reach next week’s final.

Bamboozler held the lead as the field reached the opening quarter in :26. Fulton went to the front on the backstretch, hitting the half in :53, then faced first-over pressure from Voukefalas on the last turn as they got to three-quarters in 1:21.2. Voukefalas, the 4-5 choice, took the lead in the stretch but was unable to hold off Cannibal.

“I lit up when I realized they were going too fast for [Voukefalas] to make a power move and he would eventually be the first-up horse, and I would be in a position that I wanted to be,” said Zeron. “Whether or not I had the horse to do it, we were going to find out.

“I didn’t really have to do any of the heavy lifting throughout the mile. At the point of coming out of the last turn is when I realized that mine was feeling as good as the rest of them looked.”

With the victory, Cannibal improved to four-for-four this year. Two of those previous wins were in the Pennsylvania Stallion Series in May and the other was against older horses in a conditioned race on June 24.

“I think that was the management he was under; they wanted to keep him brave, keep him confident racing against the cheaper division horses,” said Zeron. “So far, it’s worked. He couldn’t have been any more confident than he was today.”

Cannibal, a son of Sweet Lou-No More Losses, has won seven of 12 career races and earned $175,798.

Sent off at odds of 9-1, Cannibal paid $20 to win.

The following is the field for the $668,000 Meadowlands Pace final in post position order, with drivers from the elims, trainers and morning line odds.

$668,000 Meadowlands Pace
Post – Listed Driver – Trainer –  Morning Line Odds
1. Fulton – Dexter Dunn – Linda Toscano – 8-1
2. Voukefalas – Jordan Stratton – Michael Russo – 7-2
3. Christchurch – Dexter Dunn – Nancy Takter – 15-1
4. Cannibal – Scott Zeron – Nancy Takter – 4-1
5. Confederate – Tim Tetrick – Brett Pelling – 6-5
6. Hungry Angel Boy – Yannick Gingras – Tony Alagna – 20-1
7. El Rey – Scott Zeron – Tony Alagna – 6-1
8. Its A Me Mario – Lauren Tritton – Shane Tritton – 20-1
9. Ammo – David Miller – Joe Holloway – 30-1
10. Save America – Andrew McCarthy – Nancy Takter – 30-1

Saturday's card also featured a pair of Graduate Series finals. For complete recaps, click here.

In the overnight feature, a $25,000 high-end conditioned pace, Allywag Hanover had a tough go of it in his first start back after getting banged up in a spill at Woodbine Mohawk Park in the Mohawk Gold Cup. Sent to the gate as the 8-5 favourite, the Brett Pelling student languished far back throughout before closing to finish sixth in the race won by My Pal Joe in 1:48.3.

Andy McCarthy, Scott Zeron, Tim Tetrick and Dexter Dunn all recorded driving doubles. Ake Svanstedt trained a pair to victory lane.

All-source wagering totalled $3,443,434 on the 14-race program, the 42nd time this year from 55 race cards that betting busted the $3-million barrier.

Racing resumes Friday, July 14 at 6:20 p.m. (EDT).

(with files from USTA & The Meadowlands)

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