East Rutherford, NJ — The target for next week’s $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds is clearly on Tall Dark Stranger’s back. And his trainer, Nancy Takter, seems to be just fine with that.
Tall Dark Stranger took over the lead just after the quarter and rolled down the road from there in the lone Meadowlands Pace Elimination at The Meadowlands Saturday night (July 12), establishing himself as the clear-cut one-to-beat in the track’s signature event next week (July 18).
“He’s a great colt,” said Takter. “He’s been great since Day One. He performs every time I put him out on the track.”
Hard to dispute given his lifetime record of 10 wins from 11 starts.
Major Betts (Dexter Dunn) left the gate quickly from post one, as did Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras) from the three. Major Betts went the quarter in :26.1 before Tall Dark Stranger took over and hit the half in :54.4. Capt Midnight (Andrew McCarthy) – who finished ninth and failed to qualify for the final – came calling first-over to apply token pressure at three-quarters in 1:22.1.
Then Tall Dark Stranger got serious.
Off the far turn, Gingras asked the son of Bettor’s Delight-Precocious Beauty for more speed, and he provided just that, extending his advantage to two lengths at the head of the lane.
In deep stretch, 23-1 shot Captain Kirk (Joe Bongiorno) was closing well after going an inside trip to get second while 4-1 second choice Papi Rob Hanover, who again had to come from well off the pace after drawing poorly (post 10), grabbed third.
Tall Dark Stranger won it by a half-length after stopping the clock in 1:48.1. After earning half of the $50,000 purse, his lifetime bank account stood at $751,889 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. He returned $2.80 to his backers as the 2-5 favorite.
By winning the elim, Tall Dark Stranger earned the right to draw a postposition from one through six. He got the five for the big-money final in the draw conducted shortly after the race.
“Post five is a great place,” said Takter. “It gives Yannick a lot of options. That’s his job. I was super happy with my horse tonight.”
The top eight in the official order of finish made the final, with two horses – Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate – earning byes based on seasonal earnings. Mocha On The Rocks (Scott Zeron) finished 10th and last in the elim.
MEADOWLANDS PACE FIELD
The field for the $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old open pacers, which takes place at The Meadowlands on July 18 and has a post time of 10:05 p.m., with post position, horse (driver, trainer) and morning-line odds:
1. Roll With JR (Corey Callahan, Jeff Cullipher), 20-1
2. Catch The Fire (Mike Wilder, John Ackley), 10-1
3. Captain Barbossa (Brian Sears, Tony Alagna), 10-1
4. Allywag Hanover (Tim Tetrick, Brett Pelling), 5-1
5. Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter), 7-5
6. Manticore (Jordan Stratton, Bruce Saunders), 15-1
7. Chief Mate (Andy McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 20-1
8. Major Betts (Dexter Dunn, Mark Harder), 10-1
9. Papi Rob Hanover (David Miller, Brett Pelling), 4-1
10. Captain Kirk (Joe Bongiorno, Tony Alagna), 15-1
HUGE HANDLE: With two of the races on the card serving as the catalyst with over $350,000 in action, total wagering was $3,440,248, a 2020 Meadowlands best for a 13-race program.
When total handle reached $4,100,386 on June 20, the per race average for the 18-race program was $227,799. On Saturday, the average per race was a season-high $264,634.
The night got off to a fast start, as $368,907 in bets were taken on the first race, $98,457 of which was bet in the 20-cent Pick-5 pool, another Big M best.
A LITTLE MORE: Gingras led the driver’s colony with four winners on the card. … The 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five carryovers continued to swell. This Friday, when racing resumes at 7:15 p.m., JSH5 players will shoot for big green, as the fifth race carryover stands at $65,089, and the 13th race will start out with $80,368 in the hat. … On Saturday, July 18, Meadowlands Pace Night, post time will be 6:30 p.m.