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Perfect Sting Ready For Pace Elim

Published: July 8, 2021 1:12 pm ET

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After a perfect 10-for-10 campaign in 2020 that led to Dan Patch Award honours as the two-year-old Colt Pacer of the Year, expectations were high that Perfect Sting would return this year and keep a firm hold atop the three-year-old division.

After a bit of a bumpy start in his first three starts in 2021, the road to repeat glory for Perfect Sting likely will have to begin on Saturday night (July 10), when the colt lines up in post five in the second of two seven-horse $50,000 eliminations (race eight) of the Meadowlands Pace at The Meadowlands.

“It’s time to start asserting his dominance, that’s for sure,” said trainer Joe Holloway. “I think it’s time for him to step up his game and move to the head of the class.”

The task won’t be easy for Perfect Sting, as his heat includes recent Messenger Stake winner American Courage (four-for-four this year), 2020 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Southwind Gendry (two wins and two seconds this year), and Abuckabett Hanover, who saw his perfect four-race win streak this year snapped when he made a break in the Messenger final.

“We’re in a good spot in a short field,” said driver David Miller about Perfect Sting, who is listed as the 2-1 morning line favourite in the Pace elim. “I don’t see any problems and I think things will work out.

“I have confidence in him. I have confidence in his ability and his talent and I’m confident everything is going to go just fine.”

Any perceived pressure of the continuance of Perfect Sting’s perfect record evaporated quickly this year when the colt suffered his first ever defeat in his season’s debut in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division on May 16 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In that race, Perfect Sting came up a head short of the winning Abuckabett Hanover in 1:50.

“I don’t worry about (a win streak),” said Miller. “I try to put him in position to win every race. Going undefeated, that’s added pressure and added anxiety on yourself, and you end up racing the horse too hard trying to keep the winning streak alive. I don’t want that. I don’t even like that being brought up. I already know he’s a good horse and I know he gives 110 per cent.”

When three-year-old opens didn’t fill at The Meadowlands, it forced the hand of trainer Joe Holloway to enter Perfect Sting in a June 19 overnight against older horses. Challenged several times throughout the mile, Perfect Sting was able to post a game career best 1:48.1 victory.

Seven days later in a PASS division at The Meadows, Perfect Sting led at every call before crossing the finish line second, but the colt was elevated to first via disqualification of the winner.

“I believe (the race against older horses) took a toll on him,” opined Miller. “He went to The Meadows the next week and he still finished second. It wasn’t like he stopped and finished fifth. He got beat a length. The horse had every right. I’m not disappointed in him at all; I think he’s a great horse.”

Holloway said he plans on making a shoeing change for the Pace elim, switching to aluminum shoes.

“I had a shoe with a pad on, and I thought the shoe was kind of moving around on his foot,” said Holloway, who trains the $629,977-winning three-year-old son of Always B Miki out of the world champion mare Shebestingin for breeders-owners Brittany Farms and Val D’Or Farms. “I thought going lighter with aluminum would give the horse stability. It had nothing to do with speed; I just thought it was better for him.”

The top five finishers in each elim will return for the $700,000 (est.) Meadowlands Pace final on Saturday (July 17).

The 9-5 favourite in the first elim (race six) is the Nancy Takter-trained, Tim Tetrick-driven One Eight Hundred, who has six wins in eight starts this year. The $800,000 yearling purchase of Takter and Brixton Medical Inc. is coming into the elim off a career best 1:48 win in a June 26 overnight at The Meadowlands. Closing out that victory with a final quarter of :25.3, the effort edged South Beach Star and Perfect Sting’s 1:48.1 clocking as the fastest mile by a three-year-old pacer thus far in 2021.

The Meadowlands Pace elimination fields, with post position, horse (driver, trainer) and morning line odds are:

First Elimination (Race 6) – Purse $50,000
1. Chase H Hanover (Brian Sears, Scott Cox), 12-1
2. Charlie May (Brett Miller, Steve Carter), 3-1
3. One Eight Hundred (Tim Tetrick, Nancy Takter), 9-5
4. Heart Of Chewbacca (Dan Noble, Ron Burke), 4-1
5. Rockyroad Hanover (Dexter Dunn, Tony Alagna), 5-1
6. Exploit (Todd McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 8-1
7. Hellabalou (Andrew McCarthy, Eddie Dennis), 15-1

Second Elimination (Race 8) – Purse $50,000
1. American Courage (Matt Kakaley, Travis Alexander), 3-1
2. Abuckabett Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 4-1
3. Lawless Shadow (Mark MacDonald, Dr. Ian Moore), 6-1
4. Red Right Hand (Todd McCarthy, Nancy Takter), 15-1
5. Perfect Sting (David Miller, Joe Holloway), 2-1
6. Simon Says Hanover (Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna), 15-1
7. Southwind Gendry (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), 7-2

(USTA)


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