Louisiana Premier Night
Sam F Davis Day
Future Wager Pool 2
Triple Crown Nominees
Kentucky Derby Points
The Meadowlands Pace trophies
The highlight event this weekend in harness racing was the $1 million Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds. Ten lined up behind the starting gate on Saturday night before an announced attendance of 20,537, with Artistic Fella sent off as the even-money favorite out of post 3 looking for his ninth straight win. Also in the field were 3-1 second choice Total Truth, winner of the North America Cup at Woodbine, and 6-1 third choice Armbro Deuce.
14-1 outsider Took Hanover led the field around the clubhouse turn through a quarter in 26 3/5, while driver Cat Manzi had the heavy favorite parked out in fourth. Down the backstretch, Artistic Fella moved up and took over the lead after half a mile in 53 1/5, and then simply cruised along the rest of the way, getting 3/4 in 1:21 3/5, and easily drew off through the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths over 35-1 outsider My Boy David in a time of 1:48 4/5 for the mile on the fast track. It was another 1/4 length back to late-running 6-1 Armbro Deuce in third, who had rallied from eighth early and was wide throughout.
Purchased for only $13,000 as a yearling, Artistic Fella has now earned $870,310. Artistic Fella is nine for 12 on the season and 12 for 16 lifetime.
Purse: $1,000,000 Distance: 1 mile, pacers
Pgm Horse Driver Win Place Show 3 Artistic Fella Manzi 4.00 2.80 2.80 4 My Boy David Miller 12.40 6.60 6 Armbro Deuce Brennan 4.60
Artistic Fella in the paddock before the race. Winning trainer Steve Elliott said, "I'm trying to absorb this all, it's special, really special. I think we were all a little nervous, you know when you're the favorite, they're going to take shots at you. I was nervous (when they got) at the tote board, I was just hoping he could win it. My heart was pounding."
Driver Cat Manzi being interviewed after the race. This was his first win in the Meadowlands Pace. Manzi said, "When they settled at the quarter and started to go slow, it set up perfect for me to move to the front. I really though it was about over once I did that. I just wanted to make sure he kept going, that was all. I did get after him a little to make sure he got it done. It was exciting. It feels like it was my destiny, it feels great."
There were two other stakes races on the undercard. The $650,000 William R. Haughton Memorial featured older pacers. 7-2 second choice Leading X Ample was wide the whole way around while racing in sixth behind the pace of 9-1 Boulder Creek, then came out at the top of the stretch and rallied strongly to get up by a neck over 5-2 favorite Ponder in 1:48 2/5. It was a length back to Hop Sing in third. Winning driver David Miller said, "He's got one humongous kick. If he gets dragged into it, he's a real factor. I was right where I wanted to be (past the half). I was following Ponder and figured he'd take me where I wanted to go. My horse, he got by real easy and then he kind of let up. I had to keep chasing him right to the wire. When I tipped him, he just flew on right past. I felt pretty confident. He's very sharp right now, he's on the up and up."
Results chart Race 6
The happy connections in the winner's circle. Winning driver David Miller said, "He's got one humongous kick. If he gets dragged into it, he's a real factor. I was right where I wanted to be (past the half). I was following Ponder and figured he'd take me where I wanted to go. My horse, he got by real easy and then he kind of let up. I had to keep chasing him right to the wire. When I tipped him, he just flew on right past. I felt pretty confident. He's very sharp right now, he's on the up and up."
The $375,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial featured 3-year-old trotters, and is the last local prep for the Hambletonian. 3-10 favorite Mr. Pine Chip stalked the pace of 13-1 shot Blue Mac Lad through 3/4 in 1:23, then closed through the stretch to catch him in the final strides, prevailing by a neck in a time of 1:52. It was another four lengths back to 7-2 second choice Here Comes Herbie in third. Trainer Trond Smedshammer swept the top three positions in this event. Mr Pine Chip is now a perfect five-for-five this season.
Results chart Race 5
The happy connections in the winner's circle. Winning driver Brian Sears said. "This was my first experience behind him. I heard a lot about him and he lived up to everything I was told. I was sitting fourth or fifth on the rail and I thought I'd be second over. The pace was pretty hot. There was no pressure to pull. I got a pretty easy trip."
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