from the Meadowlands Publicity Department
East Rutherford, NJ — Three decisive victories, including last week’s elimination race, earned Always A Virgin the role of 9-5 morning line favorite in the $1 million Meadowlands Pace on Saturday night, July 14.
Always A Virgin took his elimination race in 1:50 last week, giving his connections the right to choose his post position for the final. Driver Brian Sears and trainer Joe Holloway elected to start the colt from post three in the sport’s premier event for 3-year-olds. The Meadowlands Pace is carded as race eight on the Saturday night program, with an estimated post time of 10:19 p.m.
Always A Virgin has been first or second in five of six starts this season and counts the $175,000 New Jersey Sires Stakes Championship among his victories. He is a homebred owned by Bluewood Stable of Hopewell, New Jersey, Roll The Dice Stable of Wilmington, Delaware and Val D’Or Farms of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
Holloway ranks fourth all-time in victories at the Meadowlands, but has yet to capture the track’s signature event. Sears, who is gunning for his third straight driving title this season, won the 2005 Meadowlands Pace with Rocknroll Hanover.
Running Book was made the 4-1 second choice after a stunning 1:48.4 victory at odds of 40-1 in his Pace elimination last week. His connections won the coin toss to select their post position for the final and they picked post two. Sears was in the sulky for Running Book’s elimination win, but opted to drive Always A Virgin in the final. George Brennan picked up the assignment for Saturday’s race.
“Well, I’ve had some success with Always A Virgin this year and that horse did go an awful good mile,” Sears said of his decision. “(Always A Virgin) is really fresh. I’ve got a good relationship with Joe (Holloway) and that’s what I did.”
Last week’s win was the first of the season for Running Book. The colt’s victory was a shock to bettors, but not to trainer Bill Elliott.
“I knew he had the ability,” Elliott said. “That’s why we put him in the race. If I didn’t think he could race well, I wouldn’t put him in. I told Brian he was ready to go a big mile and he did.
“I think the two-hole is probably the best (at the Meadowlands),” Elliott said of selecting post two. “I think we can get a look and see what the horses are doing and decide what he wants to do from there.”
Kenneth J is the 5-1 third choice from post seven for the team of trainer Linda Toscano and driver Ron Pierce. He finished fourth in the elimination won by Running Book last week.
Meadowlands gates open at 5:30 p.m. on Pace night; paid admissions will receive a Meadowlands Pace cooler bag (while supply lasts). In addition to the festivities on the track, The Burden Brothers (6:00-7:00 p.m.) and Dog Voices (7:00-10:00 p.m.) will perform in Paddock Park. The first 3,000 fans (18 and older) will receive New Jersey Lottery scratch-off tickets.
The field for the $1 million Meadowlands Pace:
Post, Horse, Driver, Trainer, ML
1, Tell All, Jody Jamieson, Blair Burgess, 8-1
2, Running Book, George Brennan, William Elliott, 4-1
3, Always A Virgin, Brian Sears, Joe Holloway, 9-5
4, Pandoras Sox, Andy Miller, Joseph Poliseno, 15-1
5, Southwind Lynx, Tim Tetrick, George Teague, Jr., 8-1
6, Watta Hotshot, Mike Lachance, Wayne Whebby, 20-1
7, Kenneth J, Ron Pierce, Linda Toscano, 5-1
8, Trueys Legacy, Mike Vanderkemp, Noel Daley, 20-1
9, Sutter Hanover, David Miller, Mark Harder, 10-1
10, Artriverderci, John Campbell, Bruce Saunders, 10-1