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Can 'JR' Step Up In M-Pace Elim?

Published: July 9, 2020 9:40 am ET

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They might not be standard for a pacer, but Jeff Cullipher has a good idea what his three-year-old Roll With JR will need to wear in Saturday’s lone Meadowlands Pace elimination.

“I hope he can put his big-boy pants on,” Cullipher said, with a laugh.

Roll With JR was among a dozen three-year-old male pacers entered in the Meadowlands Pace. Two horses, Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate, advanced to the final courtesy of byes based on seasonal earnings. The top-eight finishers in Saturday’s $50,000 elimination at the Meadowlands Racetrack will join Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate in the $631,650 final on July 18.

The elimination field includes returning Dan Patch Award winner Tall Dark Stranger, who in his only start this year defeated older horses in 1:47.4 at the 'Big M.' The time is tied for the fastest mile of the season. Also in the field is last season’s richest two-year-old male pacer, Papi Rob Hanover, who finished second to multiple Grand Circuit winner Capt Midnight in their only start of 2020.

Roll With JR, who finished second to Meadowlands Pace hopeful Catch The Fire in last year’s Kentucky Sire Stakes championship, will be making his first trip to the Meadowlands since finishing third in a two-year-old qualifying race at the New Jersey oval on June 22, 2019. He heads to the elimination off of a 1:51.2 win in his seasonal debut at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. For his career, the colt has won four of 12 races and $176,516. His wins last year included a division of the Bluegrass Stakes.

Roll With JR, pictured victorious at the Red Mile in 2019 during Bluegrass Stakes action (Image courtesy Nigel Soult).

“He was such a green horse (last year) I never felt like he reached his full potential,” the Indiana-based Cullipher said. “But he went a couple decent miles and showed that he can. He kind of grew into himself over the winter. He’s developed and is kind of a nice-sized colt.

“He’s still the kind of colt that’s only going to do what he’s made to do. I know I don’t have a (1:) 48 mile in him yet, I don’t even know if he could do it. I’d like to think he could step it up with the better horses.”

Cullipher owns Roll With JR, a son of Roll With Joe out of No One Is Alone, with Pollack Racing. Cullipher and Tom Pollack have been increasing their presence on the Grand Circuit in recent years.

“It’s exciting,” Cullipher said. “Me and Tom are starting to step into these races a little bit. We’re just having fun right now.

“This might be a one-shot deal, I don’t know, but so far I’m happy.”

Racing will begin at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday at the Meadowlands. The 13-race card also includes $250,000 Graduate Series finals for four-year-old pacers and trotters and divisions of the Reynolds Memorial for three-year-old trotters.

2020 Meadowlands Pace Elimination
(Post - Horse - Listed Driver - Morning Line Odds)
1 - Major Betts - D. Dunn - 9-2
2 - Captain Barbossa - A. McCarthy - 5-1
3 - Tall Dark Stranger - Y. Gingras - 3-1
4 - Manticore - J. Stratton - 15-1
5 - Captain Kirk - D. Dunn - 10-1
6 - Roll With JR - T. Tetrick 10-1
7 - Mocha On The Rocks - S. Zeron - 20-1
8 - Catch The Fire - M. Wilder - 15-1
9 - Capt Midnight - A. McCarthy - 8-1
10 - Papi Rob Hanover - D. Miller - 7-2


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