The road to the $1 million Meadowlands Pace begins with the Berry's Creek eliminations Saturday night and last year's Pace winning trainer, Joe Seekman, has another prospect ready for the journey.
Seekman will send out Annieswesterncard in the first of two $25,000 elimination races for the Berry's Creek, the first major stakes test for 3-year-olds. The son ofis rated at 5-1 on the morning line from post three. The first five finishers in each elim advance to the $230,000 Berry's Creek Final on May 9. Elim winners may select their post positions for the final.
Seekman campaignedto a 1:47 world record upset over in the 2008 Meadowlands Pace. Prior to that, was the beaten favorite in the Berry's Creek, finishing fourth after being parked-out the mile. The Berry's Creek has long been a steppingstone to the track's signature event. , , Cam's Card Shark and Hot Lead all parlayed a Berry's Creek win into Meadowlands Pace glory.
Sawgrass Farms' Annieswesterncard will make his 3-year-old debut for Seekman in Saturday's Berry's Creek elims. The gelding won six of 13 starts and $217,260 as a freshman. He tuned up for the Berry's Creek with two solid qualifying miles at Balmoral Park with Seekman's 19-year-old son, Travis, in the sulky.
"He's very quick," Seekman noted. "He took a mark of 1:50.3 at Indiana Downs last year. He won his Metro elimination and was the beaten favorite [third] in the final. I think he's more of a sprinter, whereis more of a grinder. He was good at Mohawk, but I think he prefers to come from off the pace. When he went to the front in the Metro Final, I thought that was doomsday. If you can keep him covered up and get a sprint out of him he's a lot better.
"He was gelded last year because he was such a handful," he continued. "He wintered well, yet I wish he had put on a little more weight. We're going to pick our spots and not race him too hard. After all that fun we had last year, we kept this one eligible to the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace."
Meanwhile, Seekman plans to bringback for the William R. Haughton Memorial eliminations on July 4 at the Meadowlands.
"He'll qualify in late June in Chicago," said Seekman, whose stable is based in Centerville, MI. "He had a pulled muscle on the back side of his knee and took a solid four months off. Of course, it'll be a transitional year for him [from three to four years old].
"People still talk to me about the Meadowlands Pace, and I think it's a race we'll never forget," he continued. "It was a race of a lifetime for any horseman. Everybody would just love to be in it and race for a million dollars. It went so quick there wasn't much time to think. We always knew the horse had a burst and Ron Pierce had confidence in him. When he popped back out on the final turn, I was impressed he still had some go left."
$25,000 Berry's Creek Elimination - Race 5, Saturday, May 2
1, Drop Red, George Brennan, Robert Horowitz, 7-2
2, Monkey Off My Back, Brian Sears, Chris Ryder, 8-1
3, Annieswesterncard, Ron Pierce, Joe Seekman, 5-1
4, River Shark, Daniel Dube, Dave Sabatelli, 2-1
5, Lifesong, David Miller, Brian Magie Jr., 8-1
6, Spring Again, Yannick Gingras, Eric Abbatiello, 12-1
7, Pair A Dice, John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 9-2
8, Western Posse, Ron Pierce, Noel Daley, 10-1
$25,000 Berry's Creek Elimination - Race 6, Saturday, May 2rse, Driver, Trainer, Odds
1, Allamerican Improv, John Campbell, Jim Graham, 10-1
2, My Old Friend John, Brian Sears, Bruce Saunders, 8-1
3, Arctic Warrior, David Miller, Sam Beegle, 12-1
4, Lisagain, Andy Miller, Erv Miller, 9-2
5,, Tim Tetrick, Mark Harder, 3-1
6, Sheer Desire, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 5-1
7, Vertigo Hanover, John Campbell, Duane Marfisi, 5-2
8, Vertical Horizon, David Miller, Bjorn Noren, 8-1
Watch the Derby Simuclast in style
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Churchill Down's Saturday simulcast features six graded stakes races anchored by the Kentucky Derby. First race post time at Churchill is 10:30 am; Meadowlands gates open 9 am. Advanced wagering is now available on Churchill's entire Saturday card.