EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Huntsville is ready for The Pace.
The Ray Schnittker trainee had no trouble winning the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace Elimination Saturday night at the Meadowlands, stopping the clock in 1:48.4. It was 2¼ lengths back to Blood Line with Santafe’s Coach third. (See The Pace draw below)
With Classic Pro, Downbytheseaside and Miso Fast having accepted byes to next week’s $738,550 Pace Final, seven spots were up for grabs in the elim. In addition to the top three finishers, Mac’s Jackpot, Talent Soup, Filibuster Hanover and Boogie Shuffle earned berths for the Meadowlands signature event.
“We wanted to race because we didn’t go to Pocono (for the Hempt) and we didn’t want to go into the Meadowlands Pace being off so long,” said winning driver Tim Tetrick of the decision to race Huntsville rather than accept one of the byes. “He was good tonight, plenty of go. He was on the left line a little again, but Ray will have him ready. He trained great the other day, wasn’t on the line, so he’ll have the quirks worked out of him.”
Huntsville, listed at even-money on the morning line for next week’s final, sat third in the early going before taking the top just after the quarter. The son of Somebeachsomewhere sprinted the third quarter in :27 to reach three-quarters in 1:22.2 before a final quarter of :26.2 enabled him to establish a new lifetime best.
Huntsville paid $2.20 as the 1-9 public choice and lifted his lifetime stats to 11 wins in 17 starts and earnings of just over $953,000.
HAMBO READY: Hambletonian favorite Walner made his much-anticipated return to the races in a conditioned event earlier on the card and the Linda Toscano trainee spoke loud and clear about his standing as the top 3-year-old colt in training, crushing an overmatched field by 7½ lengths.
Tetrick, who won five times on the program, got the son of Chapter Seven away third around turn one but quickly moved the 2016 Breeders Crown champion to the top where he cut easy fractions of :28.1 and :56.1.
Walner went into sprint mode to the three-quarters, extending his lead to 5 lengths as he hit that station in 1:23.2 before powering home in a final quarter of :27.4 to complete the mile and equal Ariana G’s 1:51.1 seasonal mark for a 3-year-old on the trot. Sweet Thing was second with Winter Harbor third.
“He’s ready to rock,” said Tetrick. “It feels like I’m driving a Corvette with a Mack Truck engine. I had the whip tucked. I never asked him to go one bit. He’s got a full stakes schedule from here on. He had a little bit of a slow start this year but I think he’s going to make up for it.”
A LITTLE MORE: On the undercard, Roses Are Red winner Lady Shadow tuned up for next week’s Golden Girls by winning a fillies and mares invitational in 1:49 at odds of 1-5. She paced her back half in :53.3 and stayed unbeaten in five starts this year. … Total handle on the card was $2,689,967. … Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. with Meadowlands Pace Night Saturday going 45 minutes earlier, at 6:30 p.m.
THE 2017 MEADOWLANDS PACE FIELD
Here is the field for the $738,550 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old open pacers on July 15 at the Meadowlands Racetrack with post position, horse (driver, trainer) and morning-line odds:
1. Blood Line (Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter), 5-1
2. Mac’s Jackpot (David Miller, Jim Campbell), 15-1
3. Boogie Shuffle (Scott Zeron, Mark Harder), 30-1
4. Huntsville (Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker), 1-1
5. Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears, Brian Brown), 4-1
6. Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), 10-1
7. Filibuster Hanover (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), 10-1
8. Santafe’s Coach (Corey Callahan, Leo Iordan), 20-1
9. Classic Pro (Trevor Henry, Dr. Ian Moore), 15-1
10. Talent Soup (Eric Abbatiello, Bruce Saunders), 30-1
Scheduled post time: 9:34 p.m.