East Rutherford, NJ — It was a Meadowlands Pace rematch, where third-place finisher Allywag Hanover was looking for some revenge against Pace champion Tall Dark Stranger. But Captain Kirk did not get the memo that said one of the two favorites would emerge victorious.
A son of Captaintreacherous-Aria Hanover, Captain Kirk went directly to the top from post eight before going directly down the road in the $84,800 Tompkins Geers for 3-year-old colts and geldings on the pace at The Meadowlands Saturday night (Aug. 1).
Driver Joe Bongiorno was aggressive with the Tony Alagna trainee, and while he never had a moment’s peace, Captain Kirk recorded a determined three-quarter length win nonetheless in a lifetime-best 1:48.3. Allywag Hanover (the 3-2 second choice) was second, Sandbetweenmytoes third and Tall Dark Stranger fourth.
Sent off as the 16-1 third choice in the betting, Captain Kirk led at the quarter in :26.4 while taking bitter pressure from 131-1 chance Rogerthat Bluechip. The duo continued to trade blows to the half as Rogerthat Bluechip had a nose up in :54.2.
Rogerthat Bluechip was done soon thereafter, and it was now Allywag Hanover’s turn to turn up the heat on the outside, but Captain Kirk kept on rolling, hitting three-quarters in 1:22.1, before extending his edge to two lengths for the sprint home.
It was no problem from there.
Captain Kirk ($35.60 to win), who finished seventh in The Pace, still had enough gas in the tank to pace his final quarter in :26.2 to get his second lifetime win in 13 starts. Tall Dark Stranger, the 3-5 favorite, had things go anything but smoothly from post 10, and did not fire after going a second-over trip.
In the $53,100 Tompkins-Geers split for 3-year-old fillies on the pace, Rocknificent sat in the pocket behind dueling leaders Peaky Sneaky and Alexis’s Beach before swinging three-wide on the far turn. The Scott Zeron-driven, Linda Toscano-trained daughter of Captaintreacherous-Rocklamation, who returned $4.80 as the 7-5 public choice, had to contend with a fast-closing Lady Lou along the rail, and just got up to record a head win in a lifetime-best 1:49.1. Peaky Sneaky was third.
The $40,000 fourth leg of the Miss Versatility for open mare trotters went to 2-5 favorite Plunge Blue Chip (Muscle Mass-Dunk The Donato), who needed every inch of the stretch while racing extremely wide to record a nose win over Kenziesky Hanover in 1:52.2 for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. The 5-year-old lifted her lifetime earnings to $1.26 million.
A Little More: Three of the Big M’s most popular puzzles took big action, as the 20-cent Pick-5 ($106,654), 50-cent Early Pick-4 ($95,893) and 50-cent Late Pick-4 ($97,996) accounted for a total of $300,543 worth of wagers.
Betting blew past the $3-million mark for a second straight card and ninth time this year, as $3,242,000 was pushed through the windows.
Alagna finished the night with three winners, including American History, who took the Open for pacers in 1:47.1, just a fifth of a second off the national season’s record.
Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. Saturday’s (Aug. 8) huge Hambletonian Day card gets underway at noon.