Meadowlands Pace Elims Take Center Stage

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Ted Black

July 8th, 2017

This weekend and perhaps each weekend into August, the Meadowlands will be the focal point of many of harness racings biggest owners, trainers, drivers and fans as Saturday night's card offers a handful of stakes including the famed Meadowlands Pace eliminations for three-year-old colt pacers.

Tomorrow night's Meadowlands card will begin with the $42,000 Mary Reynolds Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters offering a compact field of six sophomore filly trottters who are perhaps looking to continue their preparations for the Grade I, $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks next month.

Of this group, Overdraft Volo (Andy Miller) arrives with a pair of wins against Pennsylvania Sire Stakes foes at two different ovals, scoring in her debut at Harrah's Philadelphia then prevailing in first over fashion two weeks ago at Pocono Downs. Trained Julie Miller and her husband, Andy Miller, have one of the early Hambo favorites in Devious Man and they will be looking for a lucrative double on Hambo Day with Overdraft Volo in the Oaks. The Yankee Glide filly should be the solid favorite in the Mary Reynolds tomorrow night.

One race later on the card, onlookers will get their first glimpse at Walner (Tim Tetrick), last year's champion two-year--old colt trotter and future book favorite for the Hambo who makes his sophomore debut in a conditioned event for trainer Linda Toscano. Walner has won all three of his qualifiers in sharp fashion at The Meadowlands by a combined 35 lengths, including a 24-length romp in 1:51.2. Walner won seven of eight starts and earned nearly $485,000 last year and should continue his winning ways against conditioned foes in his sophomore debut on Saturday night.

Then just past the midway point of the card several of the best older pacing mares in the country will clash in a $20,000 Preferred Handicap, a race that attracted several mares prepping for bigger events at the Big M in the near future.

Lady Shadow (Yannick Gingras), the reigning aged pacing mare champion and defending Maryland-bred horse of the year, was assigned the outside nine post two weeks after capturing the $275,000 Roses Are Red final at Mohawk Raceway in Canada. Lady Shadow has won all four of her starts this year and banked over $270,000 already and is currently ranked second among all standardbreds in the current Hambletonian Society National Top 10 poll, trailing only three-year-old star Fear The Dragon.

Two spots to her inside is Nike Franco N (Tetrick), who finished fourth in the Roses Are Red after capturing her elim for that event and finishing second previously to Lady Shadow in the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphia. Also among the contenders are Penpal (Pat Lachance) and Call Me Queen Be (Scott Zeron), who also advanced to the Roses Are Red final and hard-knocking mares Inittowinafortune (Corey Callahan), Venus Delight (Brett Miller), Windsun Glory (Matt Kakaley), Shesjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) and Blue Moon Stride (David Miller).

One race later in the diluted version of the Meadowlands Pace elimination, featuring Huntsville (Tetrick), runner-up to Fear The Dragon in the North America Cup and last year's champion two-year-old pacing colt. Huntsville opted not to accept a free pass into the Meadowlands Pace - at one time free passes were not even considered and forced all the top pacers to earn their way into the final - while three of his main rivals took the bye.

Huntsville, who drew the rail and looms the 3-5 favorite in the field of 10, should be among the seven colts in this spot who should return for the $750,000 final next weekend. Talent Soup (Eric Abbatiello), a sharp 1:48.4 winner last weekend, Mr Varsity (Brett Miller), Blood Line (Mark Macdonald), R J P (Marcus Miller), Santafe's Coach (Callahan), Mac's Jackpot (David Miller), Boogie Shuffle (Scott Zeron), Western Hill (Doug McNair) and Filibuster Hanover (Gingras).

Races nine and 11 will be the $240,000 Graduate Finals for four-year-old trotters and pacers, respectively. Defending three-year-old champions Broadway Donna (David Miller) and Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron) should settle the issue in the lane in the trot, while Dr. J Hanover (McNair), Lyons Snyder (Zeron), Sintra (Jody Jamieson), Boston Red Rocks (Brett Miller), Check Six (Gingras) and Western Fame (Macdonald) all have serious chances to prevail in the Graduate final for pacers.