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McNair Gunning For The Messenger

Published: August 22, 2018 4:54 pm ET

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We took a poll and decided there’s only one horse out there with a shot to win the Pacing Triple Crown.

Take a bow, Stay Hungry.

Having closed the sale in the $281,000 Cane Pace (in a life’s-best 1:47.3) during Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands Racetrack, Stay Hungry will stay the course and invade Yonkers Raceway this Saturday night (Aug. 25) for eliminations of the 63rd Messenger Stakes.

Stay Hungry, a son of 2008 Messenger winner Somebeachsomewhere, has drawn Post 5 for the second $40,000 elimination. The first four finishers from both elims (Races 5 and 6) will return for the $500,000 final, which will be contested on the evening of Saturday, September 1.

With eight of the 11 participants coming back, the odds are in Stay Hungry’s favour. That said, he landed in by far the tougher division, opposing — among others — the pole-sitting Springsteen and $30,000 buy-in Jimmy Freight, who will start directly inside of him.

Stay Hungry has danced every dance this season, as he finished fourth in the $1 million final of the North America Cup (at Woodbine Mohawk Park), fourth in the half-million-dollar finale of the Hempt Memorial (Pocono Downs) and third in the $701,830 final of the Meadowlands Pace (Meadowlands Racetrack).

Then came the Cane, where he stalked wicked fractions before rallying from ninth at the three-quarters with a personal :25.4 final quarter.

For the season, Stay Hungry has recorded three wins and three thirds from eight starts and banked over $386,000 in purses. Tony Alagna trains Stay Hungry for co-owners Brad Grant and Irwin Samelman Estate.

“High speed and easy on himself,” driver Doug McNair said when asked about his charge. “Start him up and shut him down and he doesn’t fight with you.”

McNair, who has driven Stay Hungry in all but one of his 17 career purse starts, knew right away his escort had the goods.

“From the start, he beat a lot of the best horses.”

Stay Hungry’s freshman campaign (nine starts, six wins, one second) was highlighted by a 1:50.4 win the $600,000 final of the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park. He ended 2017 with a nose defeat in the $411,700 Governor’s Cup at the Meadowlands.

As for the Westchester and half-mile-track debut of Stay Hungry, McNair has no concerns.

“(Trainer) Tony (Alagna) sent him over last week with Cat Manzi to work him out, and Tony has always had him tight.”

Stay Hungry is three weeks between starts for Saturday’s race, the same interval — as McNair noted — between the Meadowlands Pace and the Cane.

“I just want to see him pace hard through the wire,” McNair said. “Obviously, I think he has a good shot to win no matter how we race him, but just pace hard through the wire.”

For more on the Messenger eliminations, click here.

(Yonkers Raceway)


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