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The target for Saturday's $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds is clearly on Tall Dark Stranger's back, and his trainer, Nancy Takter, seems to be just fine with that.
Tall Dark Stranger took over the lead just after the quarter and rolled down the road from there in the lone Meadowlands Pace Elimination at Meadowlands Racetrack last Saturday night, establishing himself as the clear-cut one-to-beat in the track's signature event.
Race 9 at Meadowlands on Saturday, July 18 - Post 10:05 PM
|1||Roll With JR||20-1||Corey Callahan
|2||Catch The Fire||10-1||Mike Wilder
|3||Captain Barbossa||10-1||Brian Sears
|4||Allywag Hanover||5-1||Tim Tetrick
|5||Tall Dark Stranger||7-5||Yannick Gingras
|7||Chief Mate||20-1||Andy McCarthy
|8||Major Betts||10-1||Dexter Dunn
|9||Papi Rob Hanover||4-1||David Miller
|10||PCaptain Kirk||15-1||Joe Bongiorno
"He's a great colt," said Takter. "He's been great since Day One. He performs every time I put him out on the track."
Hard to dispute given his lifetime record of 10 wins from 11 starts.
Major Betts left the gate quickly from post one, as did Tall Dark Stranger from the three. Major Betts went the quarter in :26.1 before TDS took over and hit the half in :54.4. Capt Midnight - who finished ninth and failed to qualify for the final - came calling first-over to apply token pressure at three-quarters in 1:22.1.
Then Tall Dark Stranger got serious.
Off the far turn, driver Yannick Gingras asked the son of Bettor's Delight-Precocious Beauty for more speed, and he provided just that, extending his advantage to two lengths at the head of the lane.
In deep stretch, 23-1 shot Captain Kirk was closing well after going an inside trip to get second while 4-1 second choice Papi Rob Hanover, who again had to come from well off the pace after drawing poorly (post 10), grabbed third.
Tall Dark Stranger won it by a half-length after stopping the clock in 1:48.1. After earning half of the $50,000 purse, his lifetime bank account stood at $751,889 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. He returned $2.80 to his backers as the 2-5 favorite.
By winning the elim, TDS earned the right to draw a post position from one through six. He got the five for the big-money final in the draw conducted shortly after the race.
"Post five is a great place," said Takter. "It gives Yannick a lot of options. That's his job. I was super happy with my horse tonight."
The top eight in official order of finish made the final, with two horses - Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate - earning byes based on seasonal earnings. Mocha On The Rocks finished 10th and last in the elim.
The "Biggest Night in Harness Racing" takes place Saturday, July 18 at the track known as The Big M. And for bettors, Meadowlands Pace Night 2020 is now even bigger.
The action and stakes racing will be excessive Saturday at North America's top venue, with the marquee event - The Meadowlands Pace, a 3-year-old open for a purse of $636,650 - scheduled as race nine, with a post time of 9:55 p.m.
"Every year, Meadowlands Pace Night sports one of the truly special race cards of the year," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The 13-race program has many stakes events, and the wagering opportunities are numerous. On Saturday, we will be offering a mandatory payout on our 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five, so the total pool should be huge."
This Friday night's Early 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five will not be offered so that Saturday's can start out with a carryover of $65,089 in the 11th race.
"It is our hope that our players will go after the Saturday Super High-Five in a big way," said Settlemoir. "Hopefully, we can get $200,000 into that pool and get one - or several - players a nice score."
Saturday's wagering menu will be expanded. Here is a look at what (and when) players will be playing the track's popular puzzles, all of which offer a low 15 percent takeout:
The Big M has good momentum heading into this weekend's racing, with $3,440,248 having been wagered last Saturday, the high at the mile oval this year for a 13-race card, on which the track set a per-race average best of $264,634.
Despite the absence of the Early 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five on Friday, fans of the wager will still have a big opportunity in the 13th race, as that JSH5 will start out with a carryover of $80,368.
Friday's program begins at the usual 7:15 p.m.
Stakes-Stacked Card: Saturday's Meadowlands Pace Night program gets underway a little earlier than usual, with a first-race post time of 6:30 p.m.
In addition to The Pace, the card also offers the $40,000 Miss Versatility (featuring Manchego), $253,500 Del Miller Memorial (Hypnotic AM), $284,500 Stanley Dancer Memorial-two divisions (Amigo Volo and Beads), $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee (JK First Lady), $391,300 William Haughton Memorial (Dancin Lou), $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity (Gimpanzee), $172,850 Dorothy Haughton (Shartin N) and $123,100 William Haughton Memorial consolation (Sintra).
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