The Meadowlands - The Meadowlands presents "The Greatest Night in Harness Racing" this Saturday with the 41st edition of the track's signature race, the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for a purse of $738,550. There is an early 6:30 post time on Saturday.
Pace night is historically filled with Grand Circuit highlights and this year is no exception with over $2.5 million in purses offered over the thirteen race program.
Huntsville has been tabbed as the even money choice in the Meadowlands Pace after his convincing 1:48.4 win in last week's elimination. He'll leave from post four for driver Tim Tetrick, who has won four previous Pace finals. Trainer Ray Schnittker has done this before as well, sending out the 2010 winner One More Laugh with Tetrick driving. Ray owns Huntsville, a colt he bred with the late Charlie Iannazzo, in partnership with Ted Gewertz and Steve Arnold.
The All Star card starts fast, opening with a Daily Double that includes the finest female trotters in the land.
Sophomore sensation Ariana G leads a field of seven sophomore filly trotters with an eye on the Hambletonian Oaks in a division of the $250,500 Del Miller Memorial in the first. Glitzey Gal and That's All Moni head up division two of the Miller in the fourth race.
Hannelore Hanover seeks to continue her mastery of the mature matrons by taking on five rivals in a $30,000 split of the Miss Versatility in race two. The second Miss Versatility division (race six) marks the US debut of speedy Swedish import Pasithea Face S.
The road to the Hambletonian makes a key stop with two divisions of the $320,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial which will be the first stakes appearance of the three-year-old campaign for winter book Hambo favorite Walner. Devious Man has taken on the role as divisional leader in Walner's absence by winning the Empire Breeders Classic and the Beal Memorial, the highest purses offered for the class to this point in the season. They'll leave the gate in tandem from outside posts in the first Dancer division, race three.
New Jersey Sires stakes champs Long Tom and What The Hill are the headliners in the second Dancer split, race twelve.
Last year's Hambletonian and Trotting Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder is racing in the $458,750 Hambletonian Maturity (race eight) contested at a mile and one eighth. He endeavors to be the first to complete the Hambo - Hambo Maturity sweep in the fourth edition of the series. He won last week's Graduate final with ease against many of the same horses he'll face on Saturday.
The filly companion to the Meadowlands Pace is the $165,700 Mistletoe Shalee (race five) which is a short but select field of seven. Among them are last year's division leader Idyllic Beach and Breeders Crown winner Someomensomewhere, both of whom continue to seek a return to their freshman form for Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter. Agent Q has been the best of the group thus far in 2017 and comes in off an impressive uncovered win in the Lynch two weeks ago.
The older pacing races both drew overflow fields which result in both the WR Haughton Memorial and the Golden Girls (race ten and eleven respectively) going the route distance of one and one eighth miles.
Pacing horses and geldings number a dozen in the $427,400 Haughton, clearly the most contentious race of the evening. With no dominant horse in the field, plenty of speed and two trailers a lot can happen and probably will. All Bets Off has been battling the best for five years and the career winner of nearly $2.5 million is as good as he's ever been, having won the Battle Of Lake Erie and held third after a long uncovered grind in the Ben Franklin. Mel Mara led virtually every step of the Franklin except the most important one, getting out tripped to lose a photo on the wire. "Captain" Corey Callahan's task navigating a course for Mel Mara became far more complicated when his front-loving mount drew post 12 in the back tier.
Lady Shadow has been dominant in the mare division for the past few seasons. She won last year's edition of the Golden Girls with a withering world record performance and is unbeaten thus far in 2017 but has drawn the far outside post ten for Saturday's race. Lying in wait from the rail is last year's top sophomore Pure Country who hasn't handled her graduation to the older class quite as well as expected but absolutely seared the Meadowlands mile in a 1:48 qualifier two weeks ago, signaling her readiness for the remainder of the stakes season. They'll vie with nine others for the biggest share of the $201,000 Golden Girls purse.
There's a lot going on at The Meadowlands on Pace night including live bands, a beach towel giveaway, charity auctions and plenty of food and drink options.
If you like harness racing you won't want to miss it. But...if you just can't make it, tune in to the SNY channel, available nationwide on DirecTV where the Pace and Hambletonian Maturity will be part of a live broadcast from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m.
A free program for the entire Meadowlands Pace card is available, courtesy of The Meadowlands and Trackmaster.