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Stacked Meadowlands Saturday Card

Published: July 15, 2020 8:50 pm ET

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In a typical year, the harness racing stakes season would be well underway coming into mid-July. But since 2020 has proved an atypical year, the Meadowlands Racetrack will host the first large stakes program of the season on Saturday (July 18) topped by the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace final.

The marquee event on the evening, the Meadowlands Pace had a single elimination contested last week won by Tall Dark Stranger in a 1:48 mile. Winner of the Metro Pace and Breeders Crown last year en route to dual divisional honours, the Nancy Takter-trained Bettors Delight colt drew from posts 1-6 with the elimination win and will start from post 5 with Yannick Gingras in the bike.

Papi Rob Hanover, Tall Dark Stranger’s main rival at two, will once again have to overcome a bad draw. At two, the Somebeachsomewhere colt provided serious challenges to Tall Dark Stranger in the Metro Pace and Breeders Crown finals -- the latter of which the Brett Pelling trainee lost via disqualification. Since returning as a three-year-old, Papi Rob Hanover has had two starts, both from post 10, including his third-place finish in the Meadowlands Pace elimination. David Miller will have to guide Papi Rob Hanover from a comparably better spot: post 9.

With the single elimination, the top 8 advanced into the final while Papi Rob Hanover’s stablemate Allywag Hanover received a bye and starts from post 4. Tony Alagna trainee Chief Mate also received a bye, but scratched -- allowing his stablemate Capt Midnight to start from post 7 as one of three Alagna entrants. A winner of this race in 2013 with Captaintreacherous, Alagna also sends out Captain Barbossa (PP3, Brian Sears) and elim runner-up Captain Kirk (PP10, Joe Bongiorno) in hopes of duplicating their sire's success.

Stakes action starts earlier on the card with the second race, the third preliminary of the Miss Versatility. World record holder Manchego returns to the track after finishing second to Atlanta in the $170,900 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial two weeks ago. She competes against six other mares, including three from the Ake Svanstedt stable: Beautiful Sin (post 4), Felicityshagwell S (post 5) and Plunge Blue Chip (post 7).

The race following aligns a field composed almost entirely of Hambletonian Oaks hopefuls for the $253,500 Del Miller Memorial. Sorella leads the 11 fillies off three-straight wins since returning for her sophomore season with trainer Nancy Takter. The Muscle Hill filly starts from post 1 with Yannick Gingras off her sharpest mile to date: a 1:50.2 mile in the $61,000 Reynolds Memorial. Her connections haven't ruled out racing her against the boys in the Hambletonian.

Hypnotic AM makes her 2020 Grand Circuit bow off two wins against New York-bred competition. The Marcus Melander-trained filly by Chapter Seven caught eyes last season going undefeated in seven starts leading up to the Breeders Crown, where she suffered her only two defeats. Winner of the $310,700 Jim Doherty Memorial last year, Brian Sears will have the reins from post 8.

Glamour boy trotting competition takes the stage in the races following with two $142,250 divisions for the Stanley Dancer Memorial. Division one pins Breeders Crown champion Amigo Volo against the debuting Dan Patch divisional champ Real Cool Sam, the former drawing post 4 and the latter post 1. Amigo Volo, finishing sixth in his three-year-old debut, rebounded last week with a 1:54 win in a division of PA All-Stars at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Dexter Dunn steers the Richard “Nifty” Norman-trained Father Patrick gelding.

Losing only once in 10 starts, Real Cool Sam makes his first start of his sophomore season. The Muscle Hill gelding comes off a campaign including a victory in the $324,550 Peter Haughton Memorial while suffering his lone defeat in his final start last season, finishing fourth in the $600,000 Breeders Crown final. David Miller will drive the Jim Campbell trainee.

Division two draws a 10-horse field including EL Ideal, who is the lone horse in the field ineligible to the Hambletonian. The Ake Svanstedt-trained Muscle Hill colt debuted last week with a third-place finish in a $44,150 division of the Reynolds following a freshman campaign capped with a 1:53.2 victory in the $505,050 Valley Victory. Andy Miller will sit in the bike from post 7.

Beads, who beat EL Ideal for second in the Reynolds, will start inside from post 1. The Per Engblom-trained Archangel colt made his third start of the year last week following two miles where he failed to stay flat. In the Reynolds, Beads parked the mile first over while pushing through the stretch before settling for second by only a half length. Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter will drive.

The $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee will gather 11 fillies behind the starting gate. The talent-filled group includes JK First Lady, winner of the $411,000 Three Diamonds last fall; Priceless, an Indiana invader who entered the stakes fray with a 1:50.2 blowout win in her Breeders Crown elimination at Woodbine Mohawk Park; Reflect With Me, who charged from near last to take the $600,000 Breeders Crown final; and Lyons Sentinel, who banked just over $800,000 with wins including the Shes A Great Lady and the Matron.

A new class of free for all pacers will compete in the $391,300 William Haughton Memorial against a couple familiar faces. The 11-horse affair includes five making the transition from younger competition into the aged ranks, including Adios Pace winner Southwind Ozzi, Breeders Crown winner Dancin Lou, O'Brien Award winner Century Farroh and Meadowlands Pace champ Best In Show. Trainer Ron Burke sends the majority of the returning-class aged stakes horses, starting This Is The Plan, Filibuster Hanover, Backstreet Shadow and Dorsoduro Hanover. Dan Patch Award winner Bettors Wish was expected to be a part of that group but trainer and co-owner Chris Ryder didn't enter the horse after he bled in the Graduate Final on Saturday.

The $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity precedes the featured event on the card. At a distance of a mile and an eighth, 13 trotting four-year-olds will go behind the gate with 2019 Hambletonian winner Forbidden Trade drawing the innermost post in the first tier. The millionaire stallion by Kadabra enters off a 1:52 victory at the Meadowlands last week following a pair of losses against the top class at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Scott Zeron will drive the Luc Blais trainee.

While Forbidden Trade lands the innermost post, Gimpanzee will have to navigate a trip from post 13. The Chapter Seven stallion enters off three consecutive wins in the Graduate prelims and the $250,000 final, adding to his 20 total wins from 26 starts as well as his $1,888,861 bankroll. Brian Sears drives the Marcus Melander trainee.

Alongside the boys, When Dovescry will make her four-year-old debut as the lone mare in the Hambletonian Maturity. The near-millionaire daughter of Muscle Hill enters off four qualifiers -- her most recent a 1:54 mile with a :27.1 final quarter. David Miller grabs the reins of When Dovescry, who will make her first pari-mutuel start for trainer Brett Pelling.

Coinciding with the William Haughton Memorial, stakes action caps with aged pacing mares contesting in the $172,850 Dorothy Haughton Memorial in an event formally named the “Golden Girls”. Returning off an injury scratch two weeks ago, division-leader Shartin N will attempt to add to her $2-million bankroll from post 2 as she competes against Caviart Ally, the now six-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight approaching $2-million in earnings, as well as stablemate Bettor Joy N, Nancy Takter trainee Kissin In The Sand and last year’s Ontario Sires Stakes star filly Boadicea.

The 13-race card at the Meadowlands will start with an earlier post time, with the first race scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (EDT). To view the entries for Saturday's stakes-stacked card of harness racing, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Meadowlands Racetrack.

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