The 2014 Road to the Pace is quite different than the 2013 edition. One year ago, just 30 horses were nominated with 29 still eligible after the first sustaining payment. A large factor in this was the presence of Captaintreacherous. With no standout performer and improvements made to the payment schedule of The Meadowlands Pace in 2014, 59 three year olds were nominated to The Meadowlands signature event and 56 of those 59 made the March sustaining payment.
Each week leading up to the event, Director of Racing Operations and Oddsmaker Darin Zoccali will publish an installment of "The Road to The Meadowlands Pace," with the first installment available today. The publication features a top 10 of Meadowlands Pace contenders, each of which is assigned a spring-book morning line for the event and includes updated information regarding earnings, lifetime mark, trainer, driver and also includes some of Zoccali's thoughts on each horse.
He's Watching will begin as the #1 horse in Zoccali's rankings, set at 4-1. "He was voted as the Two Year Old Pacing Champion last year. He deserves to be on top of the rankings until he gives me a reason that he shouldn't be. It's a wide open year and I expect a lot more movement through the rankings this year as opposed to last year when it seemed to be Captaintreacherous and nine others each week."
One horse not in the rankings is Arthur Blue Chip as it was announced via Standardbred Canada that the Ian Moore trained colt suffered a stall injury and would miss a "significant part of the year." Zoccali initially had Arthur Blue Chip listed at #2 in the rankings prior to the injury.
Conspicuous by his absence in the top 10 is National Debt, the undefeated winner of The Buddy Gilmour Series earlier this year at The Meadowlands. "I am sure some in the industry would have him in the top 10," said Zoccali. "But as of now, the only Meadowlands Pace eligible that he has defeated is Capital Account and while his upside and potential is immense, I want to see what he does against these quality horses before moving him up on the list. But make no mistake, he is on the doorstep."
The complete Road To The Meadowlands Pace is available at http://www.meadowlandspace.com/pdf/Road_To_The_Pace-Week1.pdf and will be updated each week.
by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands