Here is the Top Ten. Looks like a good M Pace is shaping up this year.
The eliminations for the Meadowlands’ signature event, the $1 million Meadowlands Pace are coming up
, so I thought we’d give a list of the top ten contenders and what they have been doing since the North America Cup, which was contested on June 14 at Mohawk.
1. Somebeachsomewhere-The world champion colt rolled to an effortless looking 1:49 score in the Cup with a brush to the top in the first turn and a crush job from there. He hasn’t raced since, but reports I’ve heard out of Mohawk are that the horse has trained like a monster, and he proved that layoffs are no problem with his Burlington win. I can’t see anyone going with him unless he is way off his game.
2. Badlands Nitro-After a second place effort in the Cup, Badlands Nitro won his elimination and the final of the Art Rooney at Yonkers . He wasn’t overly flashy in Rooney, but he did show a lot of heart by digging in when he needed to get the victory. Top flight trainer/driver combo in George Teague, who won the Rooney and the Pace last year with Southwind Lynx, and Brian Sears, who won the Pace in 2005 with Rocknroll Hanover .
3. Santanna Blue Chip-How can you not like this horse? Shows up every time and gets a paycheque, and that’s why he’s close to $1.3 million in earnings. Was a good second off a pocket trip in the Rooney after a win in the elimination and a third in the Cup. He’s also experienced over the Meadowlands strip thanks to his victory in last year’s Breeders Crown there.
4. Upfront Hannahsboy-Broke the Na Cup Consolation record with a dominant score in 1:49.2, then romped in the Cleveland Classic at Northfield before breaking the track record at Pocono with a another 1:49.2 win over the five-eighths mile track.
won the Pace last year, and I read owner Ed Mullinax said this is the fastest horse he’s ever owned, which is high praise considering he owned the likes of Dragon Again and Whosurboy.
5. Art Official-Maybe had the most late stretch pace in the Cup, but could only muster a seventh closing into the hot last quarter. Bounced back with a big 1:50.1 win at Balmoral in the Hanover and then was a gutsy first-over winner in the Hoosier Cup in 1:51 and change. Unfortunately, new driver Ryan Anderson was involved in an accident at Hawthorne
and may not be available.
6. Bullville Powerful-This is a conditional ranking as he isn’t eligible, but I have heard owner Steve Crevani is going to pony up the hefty supplement fee to enter him. He’s certainly earned it as the son of Bettors Delight has banked over $265,000 this year with wins in the Empire Breeders at Tioga and in a three-year old open at The Meadowlands
in a sparkling 1:49 over what was an off track.
7. Dali-Connections got their wish in the NA Cup final when he raced off a helmet, but didn’t have much kick and finished eighth. Shipped to Indiana for the Hoosier Cup and was second to Art Official after brushing to the top at the half. Driver Luc Ouellette, who won the Pace in 1998, was disappointed he didn’t win, but was encouraged by the effort, and is hoping it was a sign that the horse is finally healthy. Horse went two-for-two at The Meadowlands last year in the Niatross and Woodrow Wilson, and won both of those events in impressive fashion.
8. Sand Shooter- After being rough-gaited in his elimination, he raced markedly better in the North America Cup final, rallying to just miss a cheque by finishing sixth. Off that race, he shipped to Pocono and won in 1:50.2 with a final quarter in 27 seconds flat. He was good at The Meadowlands last year with a win in his Breeders Crown elimination and a nose loss to Santanna Blue Chip in the final.
9. Moon Beam-Might be the comeback story of the year if he keeps trending the way he’s going. The connections finally figured out the horse was having heart difficulties and corrected them, and he’s been like a new horse since then. He didn’t compete in the NA Cup but was third in the elimination and final of the Rooney with the latter being a tough first-over effort where he displayed a lot of tenacity and grit.
10. Scape Ghost-A horse for the course if there ever was one; he has five wins this year in eight starts at The Meadowlands, including the recent New Jersey Sire Stakes final, which he won in 1:50.2 with a final kicker in 26.2. Rallied off cover to finish second in the Jersey Cup on June 28, which looked like a prep for this race.
That’s a look at my top ten, but it’s certainly not a guarantee that these ten will all make the final. One only has to go back to 2004 where horses like Geartogear, who was coming off a fourth at Hiawatha Horse Park and Circle L Kid, who hadn’t done much before or after that race, both won elimination events for the Pace in upset fashion.