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East Rutherford, NJ — The 10th and final edition of Dave Little’s “Road to the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace” finds Captain Crunch in the top spot harness racing for the ninth time. There are 14 horses looking to beat him in the Big M’s signature event, which gets underway Saturday (July 6) with two eliminations. To view the complete list, click here.   Rachel Ryan  

Christina Takter was in Sweden when Captain Crunch won the C$1 million North America Cup last month, and although it was around 4 a.m., it did not prevent her from cheering on her 3-year-old harness racing colt or from celebrating enthusiastically with her husband, retired Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter. "We were yelling so much I thought the roof was going to lift from the house," said Christina, who is among Captain Crunch's owners, with 3 Brothers Stables, Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms. "We had set the alarm to wake up and see the race. It was a lot of fun." The Takters were in Sweden for a month, seeing family and friends. At the time of the North America Cup, they were visiting Per Eriksson. Did the commotion disturb their host? "We were staying maybe a quarter of a mile from their house," Christina said, adding with a big smile and laugh, "so I don't think I woke them up." Christina hopes there are more reasons to celebrate in the weeks ahead, beginning with the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. Captain Crunch, a Dan Patch Award winner in 2018, was among 15 horses entered in the event, with the group divided into two $50,000 eliminations that will be contested Saturday at Meadowlands Racetrack. The top-five finishers will return for the final on July 13. Elimination winners will draw for posts one through six. Captain Crunch, trained by Christina's daughter Nancy Johansson and driven by Scott Zeron, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the first of the two eliminations. North America Cup runner-up Bettor's Wish is the 9-5 choice in the second. For the year, Captain Crunch has won three of four races. His only loss came in his North America Cup elimination, when he went off stride in the first turn because of jumping a shadow. He recovered to finish fifth and advance to the final, where he started from post eight and posted a three-quarter-length win over Bettor's Wish in 1:47.2. "I was very, very nervous," Christina said about the final. "But, at the same time, that was kind of a freaky thing he did in the elimination, so I wasn't too worried about it. Of course, it's in the back of your mind, but we still had faith in him. "That's when you really want to show the world that the horse is what you think he is." Captain Crunch, a son of Captaintreacherous out of Sweet Paprika, was purchased for $85,000 at the 2017 Standardbred Horse Sale. Johansson's daughter, Ella, fell in love with the colt the day prior to the sale and implored her mother to buy him. The connection has added another layer of joy to Captain Crunch's story. "It's special," Christina said. "She picked him out, kind of; she really liked him. She has that extra bond with him. "I thought the price was right too. I was happy to get a piece of him because with the pedigree, I don't think we overpaid for him. And it's a very nice group (of owners) to be involved with." If Captain Crunch advances to the Meadowlands Pace final, it will conflict with another big event for the Takter family. Jimmy, already a Hall of Famer in the U.S. and Canada, is scheduled to be inducted into the Swedish Trotting Hall of Fame on July 13. And although Christina and Jimmy celebrated the North America Cup win in Sweden, the couple plans to remain home for the Meadowlands Pace. "It's going to be exciting," Christina said. "Of course, we have to get to the final. You never know. I just hope nothing happens, that the horse doesn't have bad luck or get sick. It all depends on Saturday." Joining Captain Crunch in the first elimination are U S Captain (5-1), Reigning Deo (10-1), Workin Ona Mystery (5-2), Mangogh (15-1), Captain Ahab (4-1), and Mac's Power (12-1). U S Captain, entering open stakes company for the first time this season, is unbeaten in four races this year. Mangogh and Mac's Power are making their seasonal debuts. The horses joining Bettor's Wish in the second elimination are Love Me Some Lou (10-1), Escapetothebeach (10-1), Best In Show (12-1), Captain Trevor (7-2), Hurrikane Emperor (8-1), Caviart Rockland (8-1), and De Los Cielos Deo (4-1). Saturday's card at The Meadowlands also includes the $250,000 finals of the Graduates Series for each 4-year-old trotters and 4-year-old pacers. Racing begins at 6:35 p.m. (EDT). It is Fan Appreciation Night and fireworks will follow the races. For complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager

East Rutherford, NJ - The Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace has drawn 15 harness racing entries that will result in a pair of $50,000 elimination races on Saturday, July 6.   NA Cup winner Captain Crunch leads the talented group of sophomore pacing colts. The 2018 Dan Patch award winning freshman went over $1,000,000 in his career when he won the Cup for trainer Nancy Johansson and owners 3 Brothers, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables and Caviart Farms. Scott Zeron has been the colt's driver throughout and is listed for the Pace elims.   Cup place and show finishers Bettor's Wish and Workin' On A Mystery are in the field and trainer Tony Alagna has entered four in the big dance, three of his colts represent half of the six entered sired by Captaintreacherous.   Also on the Saturday card are the $250,000 Graduate finals featuring the finest 4-year-old pacers and trotters in the land.   Post time on Saturday is 6:30pm with Fan Appreciation night and the promise of fireworks after the races also holding allure for the Meadowlands faithful.   The entrants are listed below:   BEST IN SHOW - By Bettor's Delight BETTOR'S WISH - By Bettor's Delight CAPTAIN AHAB - By Captaintreacherous CAPTAIN CRUNCH - By Captaintreacherous CAPTAIN TREVOR - By Captaintreacherous   CAVIART ROCKLAND - By Sportswriter DE LOS CIELOS DEO - By Captaintreacherous ESCAPETOTHEBEACH - By Somebeachsomewhere HURRIKANE EMPEROR - By Hurrikane Kingcole LOVE ME SOME LOU - By Sweet Lou MAC'S POWER - By Somebeachsomewhere MANGOGH - By Western Ideal REIGNING DEO - By Rock N Roll Heaven U S CAPTAIN - By Captaintreacherous WORKIN ONA MYSTERY - By Captaintreacherous     Nick Salvi

Captain Crunch has vaulted back to the top harness racing spot in Week 8 of Dave Little's "Road to the Crawford Farns Meadowlands Pace" after his stunning 1:47.2 score in the North America Cup. The "Big Three" of Crunch, Bettor's Wish and Workin Ona Mystery will all skip the Max Hempt to prepare for The Pace.   Rank Horse (Earnings – Mark) Driver, Trainer Owner(s) Dave Little’s Comments 1 Captain Crunch ($1,050,806 – 1:47.2)   S. Zeron, N. Johansson 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, Caviart Farms Rebounded in a big way in the North America Cup Final after jumping a shadow the week before in his elimination, scoring impressively after leaving the gate, coming after favorite Workin Ona Mystery, then holding off Bettor’s Wish in a dazzling performance. Johansson: “I don’t think he’s ever come alongside a horse and not won. The mile did not take a lot out of him. After the race, he was in the paddock and he felt like he was the King of the World. We are skipping the Hempt to go to the Meadowlands Pace.” Last Race: 6/15 – WMP – North America Cup Final – 1st (1:47.2) 2 Bettor’s Wish ($639,556 – 1:49.3)   D. Dunn, C. Ryder Chris Ryder, Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm, Kenneth Solomon   Raced big but came up three-quarters-of-a-length short in his quest to stay unbeaten in five starts this year in a superb NA Cup effort. Ryder: “This horse is usually very relaxed but after the recall he got a little grabby in the race. I’m going to give him an easy week and get ready for the Meadowlands Pace.” Last Race: 6/15 – WMP – North America Cup Final – 2nd (1:47.3) 3 Workin Ona Mystery ($258,567 – 1:49)   T. Tetrick, B. Brown Diamond Creek Racing, Stambaugh Leeman Stable, Alan Keith, Wingfield Brothers   The 7-5 NA Cup favorite reached three-quarters on the point in 1:20 before settling for third, only his second career defeat in 10 starts. Brown: “He was really good. Tough trip. When you go for a million it ain’t going to be easy. We’ll try it again Meadowlands Pace night.” A rematch of the division’s Big Three is something worth looking forward to. Last Race: 6/15 – WMP – North America Cup Final – 3rd (1:47.3) 4 Best In Show ($96,163 – 1:50.3)   B. McClure, L. Toscano Richard P Young, Joanne Young, Craig W Henderson   Came close to getting the final check in The Cup, finishing sixth in 1:48.2 in just his ninth career start. Toscano: “He checked a little bit at the half. He was just getting a full head of steam and then got startled. Every week for this colt has been an education. We’ll go in the (Ontario Sire Stakes) Gold next Saturday then come back for the Meadowlands Pace.” Last Race: 6/15 – WMP – North America Cup Final – 6th (1:48.2) 5 Air Force Hanover ($209,638 – 1:50.1)   Y. Gingras, B. Brown Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Richard M Lombardo, W J Donovan   Failed to qualify for the final, finished a respectable third in the consolation as the third choice to Century Farroh. Brown: “He couldn’t get all the way to the wire up there (at Mohawk). He showed some blood. He’s in the Hempt, and hopefully, we can control his bleeding with a higher dose of Lasix.” Last Race: 6/15 – WMP – North America Cup Consolation – 3rd (1:50) 6 Hurrikane Emperor ($325,400 – 1:49.3)   D. Dube, J. McDermott Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing, Pegasis Investment Group, William Garofalo   It was not his night at The ‘Hawk, was never close in The Cup but did kick home in :27.1 – which was the second fastest final quarter in the race – to finish eighth. McDermott: “He just wasn’t comfortable in the NA Cup. He was rough-gaited but had tons of pace late. I’m changing his shoes and he drew well for the Hempt.”  Last Race: 6/15 – WMP – North America Cup Final – 8th (1:49.3) 7 De Los Cielos Deo ($217,758 – 1:48.4Q)   D. Miller, R. Burke Burke Racing Stable LLC, Lawrence R Karr, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi LLC     He was a hot item at the windows, being sent to the gate as the 3-1 second choice in the wagering, but did not live up to that billing, finishing seventh in The Cup. Burke: “Hate to make excuses, but this horse did not do well after the recall. Maybe something scared him. Normally, he would be fine. We’ll skip the Hempt and go to the Meadowlands Pace.” Last Race: 6/15 – WMP – North America Cup Final – 7th (1:49.3) 8 Buddy Hill ($112,431 – 1:52)   J. Bartlett, M. Melander Tom Hill     Makes his first appearance in the Top 10 by registering a sharp win over Reigning Deo in 1:52 at Tioga for just his second lifetime victory. Melander: “We were very happy with him at Tioga. Tough half on a sloppy track. He’ll be at Yonkers next Thursday in the New York Sire Stakes. He’s staked to everything.” Last Race: 6/16 – TgD – New York Sire Stakes – 1st (1:52) 9 Caviart Rockland ($93,265 – 1:50.3)   Y. Gingras, N. Johansson Caviart Farms   Breaks into the Top 10 after finishing second in a nice try in the NA Cup Consolation after pacing home in :27. Johansson: “He raced super. Had the roles been reversed (racing from off the pace instead of on the lead) I think he would have gotten there. We have some options to get him a race before The Pace.” Last Race: 6/15 – WMP – North America Cup Consolation – 2nd (1:49.1) 10 Reigning Deo ($288,725 – 1:54.1Q)   A. McCarthy, B. Pelling Deo Volente Farms, Pelling Racing, Brian Gordon   Went a First-over trip on the way to a fourth-place finish in the New York Sire Stakes at Tioga in his last start. Pelling: “He just needs to be better. I need to back off and let him do his thing. He’s a sound, lovely horse but things have to go his way. He’ll race next Thursday at Yonkers.” Last Race: 6/16 – TgD – New York Sire Stakes – 4th (1:52.4)   KEY PREP RACES MEADOWLANDS PACE ELIGIBLES IN CAPS – Supplements are permitted per the conditions of the race Date Stakes Site Winner Trainer Driver 2nd Horse 3rd Horse Time 5/4 Pa. Sire Stakes Pa. Sire Stakes Pa. Sire Stakes Mea Mea Mea Southwind Ozzi WORKIN ONA MYSTERY LOVE ME SOME LOU B. Mac Kenzie B. Brown T. Cancelliere T. Tetrick T. Tetrick D. Miller PROOF Wild Wild Western Brassy Hanover Prince Of Tides Captain Malicious CAPTAIN VICTORIOUS 1:50.4 1:50.1 1:50.4 5/11 Pa. All-Stars Pa. All-Stars Pa. All-Stars PcD PcD PcD BLOOD MONEY Branquinho AIR FORCE HANOVER N. Johansson R. Schnittker B. Brown S. Zeron T. Buter G. Napolitano, Jr. ESCAPETOTHEBEACH LYONS NIGHT HAWK Highlandbeachlover Brassy Hanover Warrawee Unique SUGAR FACTORY 1:50 1:50.1 1:50.1 5/13 NY Sire Stakes NY Sire Stakes NY Sire Stakes MR MR MR Hickfromfrenchlick Major March Rollwithpapajoe R. Schnittker L. Toscano J. Bongiorno M. MacDonald J. Bartlett T. Buter American Mercury Major Blake REIGNING DEO Stone Hanover Astaire Covered Bridge 1:55 1:55 1:56 5/17 NJ Sire Stakes M1 HURRIKANE EMPEROR J. McDermott D. Dube Clintock Black Dan 1:53.2 5/18 Art Rooney Elim. Art Rooney Elim. YR YR AIR FORCE HANOVER BETTOR’S WISH B. Brown C. Ryder D. Miller D. Dunn BUDDY HILL BLOOD MONEY PRICE HANOVER Rollwithpapajoe 1:52.4 1:53.2 5/19 Pa. Sire Stakes Pa. Sire Stakes Pa. Sire Stakes PcD PcD PcD Wild Wild Western CAPTAIN CRUNCH WORKIN ONA MYSTERY N. Parker N. Johansson B. Brown M. Wilder S. Zeron T. Tetrick CAVIART STETSON Southwind Ozzi LOVE ME SOME LOU SEMI TOUGH PROOF Highlandbeachlover 1:52 1:49.1 1:49.3 5/24 NJ Sire Stakes M1 HURRIKANE EMPEROR J. McDermott D. Dube Black Dan Clintock 1:52 5/25 Art Rooney Final YR BETTOR’S WISH C. Ryder D. Dunn   Rachel Ryan

East Rutherford, NJ - The number of 3-year-olds sustained to The Meadowlands' signature stake, the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, increased by more than 50% in 2019 with 63 making the February payment as opposed to 40 last year.   Among those seeking the coveted trophy are the Dan Patch award winning freshman colt Captain Crunch who heads up a talented returning crop that includes open stakes winners Captain Ahab and Workin On A Mystery along with New York and Pennsylvania sires stakes champs Reigning Deo and Proof respectively. The connections of top regional colts Bronx Seelster (Ontario) and Melodie's Major (New York) have made the $7,500 February supplemental payment to gain eligibility to the "Pace".   The Mistletoe Shalee also saw a solid forward move from 35 in 2018 to 47 this year with the Dan Patch Award winning freshman filly star Warrawee Ubeaut, the fastest 2-year-old in harness racing history regardless of sex, and She's A Great Lady/ O'Brien Award winner Tall Drink Hanover cast as the leading ladies.   Both of these marquee stakes are part of the "Greatest Party In Harness Racing" on Pace night, Saturday, July 13.   Pace trophy table      - Lisa Photo   Overall there was a slight uptick in the total number paid into Meadowlands Grand Circuit stakes year over year. The list of nominees for all stakes is available on the web.     NIck Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - As the purse subsidy bill (Senate Bill 2992) awaits the signature of Governor Murphy, The Meadowlands is finalizing live racing and stakes purse details for this season. Although it is clear in the language of the bill that the subsidy money is to be used for overnight races, a number of breeders who have previously helped to fund Meadowlands Grand Circuit races over the past few seasons vis sponsorships have declined to continue their contributions for 2019, creating a shortfall in the stakes account. As a result of this shortfall the Governor's Cup 2 year-old colt pace and Three Diamonds 2 year-old filly pace will have to be cancelled for 2019 without the sponsor contributions. "The breeders had another record breaking year at the sales and seem to think that the pressure is now off at The Meadowlands with the purse subsidy, but it's far from off," said Meadowlands CEO Jeff Gural. "I am adding a minimum of $1 million from sports betting to the $6 million subsidy for overnight purses. The language is clear that the subsidy is not for use in our Grand Circuit stakes, so nothing has changed so far as funding those. If we get sufficient sponsors for these races we can reinstate them, if not they will be cancelled for 2019." It's important to realize that while the bill passed contains language to continue the $20 million in total to the horse racing industry for five years with $6 million directed to Meadowlands purses, it also requires the track to demonstrate that the funds are in fact improving the racing industry in New Jersey. The parameters set out by legislators include impact on handle, the number of horses in races, the success of the New Jersey bred horse in their home state and increased attendance and revenue at the tracks.  The overnight purses will be increased immediately after the bill is signed. Another increase will come in late March or early April, when the competition for horses increases. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, August 26, 2018- Meadowlands Pace winner Courtly Choice is invading Yonkers Raceway for the first time Tuesday night (Aug. 28th), coinciding with the $173,500 New York Sire Stakes Armand Palatucci Pace for 3-year-old colts and geldings. Post time for the 10-race card is 6:50 PM, with the pair of $86,750 statebred events going as races 7 and 8. Courtly Choice drew post position No. 6 in the opening division, with Dave Miler again driving for co-owners (as part of Mac and Heim Stables)/trainer Blake Macintosh, Daniel Plouffe, Hutt Racing and Touch Stone Farms. For the season, Courtly Choice has eight wins in 11 starts ($612,018), entering off a down-the-road win in the $272,025 final of the Empire Breeders at Tioga (1:48.3). His 1:47.1 life-best did come in that $701,830 Meadowlands Pace last month. Tuesday is just his second New York Sire Stakes appearance of the season, having won a Memorial Day event at Vernon (1:48.4). He's only made one other small-track start, winning last season's $50,000 consolation of the NYSS at Monticello. If Courtly Choice gets a challenge, it's probably going to come from Heavenly Sounds (Jim Mahon Jr., post 3). The Rock N Roll Heaven colt, trained by Bruce Saunders for M&M Harness Racing, has won six races and more than $137,000 this season. He was snappy sire stakes winner here (1:52.4) late last month. Tuesday night's second and final group includes Macintosh's Rootin' Tootin' (Mark MacDonald, post 7), himself a six-figure performer this season ($102,307). Jersey Jim (Jordan Stratton, post 2) has not raced back to his frosh sire stakes championship form, while Ghost Dance (Scott Zeron, post 3), Keystone Tenacious (Marohn Jr., post 4) and Ideal Feeling (Jason Bartlett, post 8) were all finalists in the Empire Breeders Classic. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It was a big night on many fronts last Saturday (July 14) at the Meadowlands, as the $4 million plateau was reached in total handle, the track's sparkling new Fanduel Sports Book @ Victory Sports Bar was opened for wagering on professional sports and Hall of Fame driver David Miller won the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for the first time in his 19th try. Total handle on the program was a meet-high $4,083,401 (an increase of approximately $250,000 over last year's Pace Night) as six stakes races on the program saw pools in excess of $300,000, with the Pace leading that parade, with $536,305 being put in play. "All of us at the Meadowlands are so pleased that our fans supported the Pace card like they did," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "It just goes to show you with quality purses we attract quality horses and the public responds by betting with both fists." On the morning of Pace Night, the sports book opened to a big crowd anxious to place wagers on Major League Baseball, the World Cup Final and many other future bets. The hours of the sports book are as follows: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-1 a.m.; Friday 10 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-2 a.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-1 a.m. Finally, the 53-year-old Miller broke his Pace maiden by guiding 6-5 favorite Courtly Choice to a 1¼-length win over 57-1 shot Dorsoduro Hanover in 1:47.1. Horses driven by Miller have earned at least $10 million 15 times over the last 17 years and "The Buckeye" sports lifetime earnings of nearly $226 million. Miller will be the guest Friday night on "In the Sulky", the Big M's interview segment on its live simulcast presentation. It will be seen at approximately 7:35 p.m. POST TIME CHANGE: This Friday and Saturday, post time for the first live race at the Meadowlands will be 8 p.m. JUMP INTO THE POOL: After failing to reach six figures for two months, Saturday night marked the fourth consecutive race card where the 50-Cent Pick-4 pool reached $100,000, as a meet-high $142,198 was pushed through the windows. ... On Friday night, the Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five had a mandatory payout, and after "new" money pushed the total pool well past the $500,000 mark, those holding winning tickets cashed in for $76,472. HAMBO COUNTDOWN: It's just three Saturdays until this year's edition of the Hambletonian. Here is the track's schedule for its stretch run: July 20 and 21, post time 8 p.m.; July 27, 28 and Aug. 3, 7:15 p.m. On Hambletonian Day, Saturday, Aug. 4, post time is noon. On the card, more than $3 million in purse money will be up for grabs. HAVE A SPA DAY: Thoroughbred racing's most popular meeting starts on Friday as the Big M will feature racing from Saratoga on its daily simulcast menu. Every Saturday, there will be at least one $500,000 event on the Spa card, with the marquee event, the $1.25 Travers Stakes, slated for Saturday, August 25. Saratoga races every day except Tuesday through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3. Post time is 1 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

With a bold leap after winning the Haughton Memorial, McWicked has jumped from 5th place to 2nd place in this weeks Top Ten Poll.  Ariana G also climbed up the poll big time, moving from seventh place to third and Courtly Choice, who was not even in the Top Ten after winning his M'lands Pace elim two weeks ago, moved into 4th place with his Pace final victory. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 8 – 7/17/2018 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Hannelore Hanover (34) 6tm 6-6-0-0 $233,338 349 1 2 McWicked (1) 7ph 7-5-1-0 $543,911 245 5 3 Ariana G 4tm 5-3-0-0 $346,675 215 7 4 Courtly Choice 3pc 8-6-0-0 $453,615 164 -- 5 Kissin In The Sand 3pf 6-4-2-0 $353,557 155 8 6 Atlanta 3tf 4-4-0-0 $147,584 153 4 7 Shartin N 5pm 15-11-1-0 $575,040 147 2 8 Lather Up 3pc 8-7-0-0 $470,665 144 3 9 Six Pack 3tc 6-5-1-0 $359,198 116 -- 10 Wolfgang 3tc 3-3-0-0 $200,415 100 9 Also: Manchego (62); Plunge Blue Chip (45); Marion Marauder (8); Crystal Fashion (5); Filibuster Hanover, Fox Valley Gemini, Phaetosive (3); Springsteen (2); Bit Of A Legend N, Donttellmeagain, Dorsoduro Hanover, Foiled Again, Sock It Away, Youaremycandygirl (1).

David Miller has made countless trips to the Meadowlands Racetrack winner's circle during his Hall of Fame driving career, but when he returned to that spot following Saturday's Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, none counted more. Miller guided favorite Courtly Choice to victory in the $701,830 event for 3-year-old pacers, a race he dreamed of winning since arriving at the Meadowlands in the late 1990s. It took 19 tries, but as Miller soaked up the triumph following the trophy presentation and posing for photos, it was worth the wait. "It's a bit emotional," Miller said as his eyes misted with tears of joy. "I was all but thinking I was never going to get this race. I finally got it. It was cool. As a kid growing up, you watch these races and dream about being out here and winning them. It's a great feeling. I'm sure I'll enjoy it for a while." Prior to the race, Meadowlands Racetrack analyst/historian Bob "Hollywood" Heyden pointed out that Miller was the youngest driver, at age 30, in his first Meadowlands Pace drive, which came behind Cinder Lane Sam in 1995 and resulted in a fifth-place finish. Now 53, Miller was the oldest driver in the race on Saturday. "I guess patience is a virtue," Miller said, laughing. Miller's drive with Courtly Choice was his first in the Meadowlands Pace with a favorite. Prior to driving Courtly Choice, the nearest Miller came to a favorite in the race was Always B Miki, who finished second to He's Watching in 2014 at odds of 7-1 from post nine. Miller had driven only one other horse in the event at less than double-digit odds, No Pan Intended at 8-1 in 2003. "I've never had a favorite, but I've had horses that I thought I had shots with and left here with a lot of fourths and fifths," Miller said. "I was driving here and trying not to be too exciting. I kept telling myself, we haven't had much luck in it. "I just tried to play it low key and go into it as just another race and not do something like over-drive my horse or under-drive him. I was hoping things would work out for us, which they did." Miller and Courtly Choice were in sixth place for the first half of the mile race, but moved to the outside to follow Dorsoduro Hanover as the field made its way around the final turn. Dorsoduro Hanover steamed past leader American History as they straightened for home, but Courtly Choice was able to get by Dorsoduro Hanover in the stretch and win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:47.1. "I wasn't sure what Doug McNair was going to do (driving second-choice Stay Hungry)," Miller said. "I saw off the gate he was going to get me in front of him and track me. That was all right because two from the outside left and I didn't want to be, like, third over trying to run them down. "The trip actually worked out perfect, as I was hoping it would. The horse did the rest." Blake MacIntosh, who trains and co-owns Courtly Choice (as Mac And Heim Stables) with Hutt Racing Stable, Daniel Plouffe, and Touch Stone Farms, won the Meadowlands Pace in his first attempt, but was no less thrilled than Miller. The owners supplemented Courtly Choice to the race for $61,690 because the horse was not originally staked to the event. "You dream about winning the Meadowlands Pace when you're jogging every morning; I've won it 30 times jogging," MacIntosh said with a big smile. "It's just amazing, just amazing. I thought if we were ever going to win it, we were going to win it (Saturday) because Dave gave him the most unbelievable drive." MacIntosh bought Courtly Choice, a son of Art Major out of Lady Ashlee Ann, for $60,000 at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. The colt is a half-brother to O'Brien Award-winner Betterthancheddar, a horse with which MacIntosh was associated while working with trainer Casie Coleman. "I looked at him at the sale and he was a twin to (Betterthancheddar)," MacIntosh said. "I fell in love with him. I don't spend big money at the sales. I got him at 60 and after the hammer fell I've never been so sick in my entire life. I was nervous as could be. But it paid off. It's unreal how it paid off for us." Miller would be the first to agree. "He's just an incredible horse," Miller said. After a pause, he laughed, and added, "He got me to win the Meadowlands Pace, so how good is he." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - David Miller flashed a wide smile as he guided Courtly Choice to the winner's circle after winning the $701,830 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. The monkey was off the Hall of Famer's back. After 19 failed efforts, Miller finally owned a harness racing victory in the Meadowlands Racetrack's signature event for 3-year-olds. Courtly Choice rallied to win the Pace by 1¼ lengths on Saturday night. "That was sweet," Miller said. "Really sweet." The Pace was an obvious omission on Miller's glittering resume. "The Buckeye" is second on the sport's all-time money list with $222 million in the bank. His best previous Pace finish was a second with Always B Miki in 2014. The sweetness of the moment spread in many directions, including trainer Blake MacIntosh, who also savored the victory in his Pace debut. "I believed in this horse," said McIntosh, the former assistant to Casie Coleman. "He just had some back luck earlier in the year." And it was a winning gamble for the ownership group that ponied up $61,690 to enter last week's eliminations. The faith of Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe and Touch Stone Farms was rewarded with the $350,915 first-prize check. Most importantly, it was moment of redemption for Courtly Choice, who failed to make the finals in the North America Cup and the Hempt. The colt served notice his moment was at hand with a sharp first-up victory in last week's Pace elimination. And then he finally put it all together for the richest victory of his career. The race seemed primed for a 57-1 upset when a dead-game Dorsoduro Hanover, handled by Matt Kakaley, battled his way to the front at the top of the lane. But Courtly Choice was tracking his every move and angled wide under Miller's urging to score the victory. "The trip worked out good," Miller said. "The couple of horses I thought would leave from the outside left. I was able to get Matt in front of me and nobody else moved. On the last turn, I was real happy with my spot." The time was 1:47 1/5 on the warm evening. Courtly Choice paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.80 as the 6-5 favorite. Dorsoduro Hanover returned $28.20 and $8.80. Stay Hungry paid $3.20 to show as the best finisher among trainer Tony Alagna's trio in the race. Jimmy Freight, the other supplement, was fourth followed by Thinkbig Dreambig, Nutcracker Sweet, This Is The Plan, Babes Dig Me, Hayden Hanover and American History. by Mike Farrell, for the Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ - Breakfast WithThe Babies, sponsored by Fashion Farms, Meadowlands Pace Day edition, was conducted at 11 am under perfect conditions with no wind and temperatures of 80 degrees. Pacers opened the card today and another precocious Captaintreacherous colt, this one the cleverly named Captain Crunch, was tremendous. In his second morning effort for Scott Zeron the pair converted a two-hole trip into a 1:52.3 win with the final quarter in 26.1. Rockin Jimmy Brown (Marcus Miller) set easy fractions going the half in 56.3, and led into the stretch but could not resist the close of Captain Crunch. Bred by Walnridge Farms and Sherri Meirs, the winner was and $85,000 Harrisburg purchase by 3 Brothers Stable, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables and Caviart Farms. Donna Victoria won her trotting filly test in 1:59.4 after a Trond Smedshammer pocket trip behind Unbelindyble (Domenico Cecere) took her into the stretch where she fanned off that rival's back and went by willingly. Unbelindyble held on for second and Brianna Blue Chip (Zeron) was gobbling up ground late for third. The winner is a Michael Andrew homebred by Donato Hanover. Jimmy Takter trains and drove Asiago to a 1:56.4 / 28.4 win from the pocket in race 3. The pair settled behind Miss You Kelly (Brett Miller) through a 59.1 half then wore that rival down through the stretch, drawing clear late on her own. Miss You Kelly stayed for second and Princee Deo (Andy McCarthy) flashed good late trot to be third. The winner is by Muscle Hill and was bred by James Wilhite, Jr who cashed her in at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for $200,000 with Katz, Goldband, Libfeld and Black Horse Racing signing the slip. Summit In Sight, a $300,000 Harrisburg purchase by Story Inc and driver Andy Miller, made a very good impression in her debut trotting home strong in 28.1 on the end of a 1:57 mile. Away second early, Summit In Sight inherited a lead when Hatikvah (Tim Tetrick) rolled off stride at the 59.3 half and went along easily winning as the driver pleased. Chiplosive (Smedshammer) was second. Willow Pond, LLC bred the winner who is from the world champion Bluff and is trained by Julie Miller. Union Forces (Zeron) won his third morning trial in as many tries, rallying from well back to collar Something Fine (A. Miller) in the stretch and went by under minimal urging in 1:59.1. Something Fine wound up on a long lead after a few broke behind him but could not resist the relentless close of the winner. Union Forces is trained by Domenico Cecere for Lindy Farms, Bob Rudolph, David Anderson and John Fielding who paid breeder Blue Chip Bloodstock $100,000 at the Lexington sale last fall. Ake Svanstedt had a winner in the sixth when he sailed by the early leaders through a fast final quarter to win in 1:57.1 with Lindy Express. Svanstedt was uncharacteristically patient early as Practical Cat (Takter) set a 59 half and 1:28.1 three panels before unleashing his colt's powerful burst in the stretch to get by that one. The winner is by Trixton, sold as a yearling in Lexington by KR Breeding, LLC to Malby Gard for $140,000. Pacing filly Odds On St Lucie (Zeron) won today in 1:54.4 / 27.1. She took over from Lovely Laura before the 59.2 half then sprinted home in 55.1 for the win. Demi Hill closed up some to be second for Brett Miller. The winner is a royally bred daughter of Sweet Lou from a sister to Captaintreacherous, sold in Lexington by White Birch Farm to Odds On Racing for $110,000. Tony Alagna trains both Odds On St Lucie and Demi Hill. Goose Bay Fiftytwo won the last of the baby races this morning for Erv (trainer) and Marcus (driver) Miller in 1:54.3 with a 27 flat final quarter. Marcus made a few moves with the Art Major colt, who had more to give each time he was asked. Onemilebrige was second. The winner was bred by Fred Hertrich and sold to Golmes, Anderson and Willinger for $43,000 at Harrisburg. The gritty veteran and Meadowlands all time trotting track record holder JL Cruze made his second qualifying appearance of the season and was again a winner, this time in 1:52.3 / 27.4 for Brett Miller. He's overcome a lot for trainer Eric Ell and looks as good as he has for a while in these morning efforts trying to find form enough to go in the August 4 Cashman Memorial. Tonight is the "Greatest Party in Harness Racing", the Meadowlands Pace complete with a BBQ contest and activities for the whole family. Live stream of tonight's full card is available free on The Meadowlands website. Post time is 6:35 pm.   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands    

If Louis-Philippe Roy gets goose bumps at the finish of Saturday's Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, it will not be the first time he experiences that sensation as a result of the race. This time, though, it would occur from an entirely different seat and, presumably, for an entirely different reason. The 28-year-old Roy will drive for the first time in a Meadowlands Pace final on Saturday, sitting behind Jimmy Freight in the Meadowlands Racetrack's signature event. Jimmy Freight is 9-2 on the morning line, the third choice behind 5-2 favorite Courtly Choice and 3-1 Stay Hungry in the $701,830 race for 3-year-old harness racing pacers. Roy will try to become the first driver since Tim Tetrick in 2007 to win the Meadowlands Pace in his first attempt. "I was thinking about it last week," said Roy, a native of Quebec who got his start on the fair circuit in his home province. "I remember 10 years ago I was watching Somebeachsomewhere in the Meadowlands Pace and I had the goose bumps when he got beat (by Art Official for the only loss of his career). "The two biggest races in my mind have always been the North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace because where I'm from (in Canada) we were only racing pacers. So those were the two biggest races I always wanted to win. To be in it this year is very special." Roy spent six years competing, and dominating, at the fairs before making a name for himself at Hippodrome Trois Rivieres, which propelled him to regular drives on the Woodbine-Mohawk/Ontario circuit. In 2016, he won the Gold Cup & Saucer with YS Lotus on Prince Edward Island and received Canada's Future Star Award. Since then, he has lived up to the billing. In 2017, Roy won 377 races, good for second among all drivers in Canada, and earned $4.44 million (U.S.) in purses and was a finalist for Canada's Driver of the Year, which ultimately went to Doug McNair. This year, Roy has 232 victories and $2.66 million in purses and leads Canadian drivers in both categories. "It's just a dream," Roy said. "From the time I got interested (in the sport) I always wanted to be a driver. But it's a long step from starting on the fair circuit and then making it as a living. It's like dreaming about playing in the NHL; you dream about it, but you never expect it." Roy's success has attracted attention on both sides of the border. Ron Burke, the sport's leading trainer in wins and purses for 10 years running, has given Roy drives in several stakes races. Roy won the 2017 She's A Great Lady with Youaremycandygirl, at odds of 40-1, and finished second with Rockin Ron in the Canadian Pacing Derby. He won this year's Camluck Classic with Rockin Ron and also captured the Fan Hanover Stakes with Shower Play for trainer Rene Dion. Starting in 2016, Roy has driven in 29 Grand Circuit-level races and posted five wins and a total of 18 top-three finishes, good for a .391 driver's rating. He has sat behind only one favorite in those 29 starts, and while several others have gone off at short odds, most of his drives have been with horses with double-digit odds. "Last summer, especially with stakes horses, I didn't have much experience with young horses," Roy said. "I think this year that is part of my driving that might improve. I still have a lot of experience to get, but I have a lot more than I had last year. I hope it will keep helping me. "Getting drives from the big stables, that does help for sure. I guess they like what I'm doing in Canada. As a driver that's what you need, a good stable behind you giving you a lot of chances. We've had some good results so far. I'm very thankful." Roy's drive in the Meadowlands Pace, Jimmy Freight, was not staked to the race, so owner Adriano Sorella paid a supplement of $61,690 to give his horse a shot at the trophy. Jimmy Freight, a son of Sportswriter out of Allamerican Summer, has won five of eight races this year and hit the board in every start. Last year, he won seven of 12 and again was always among the top-three finishers. Jimmy Freight's wins this year include a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes and two divisions of the Ontario Sire Stakes. The colt finished third in the Gold Cup Invitational, behind top older pacers Sintra and McWicked. He enters the Meadowlands Pace final off a dead-heat third in his elimination. He led for much of the way before Courtly Choice and American History passed him in the stretch. "I can't complain about Jimmy, he raced good like he's always done this season," Roy said. "Courtly Choice impressed me. Even though he had a tough mile having to go first-up, he was a rocket down the lane. We'll have to find a way to beat him, and the eight other horses, in the final." If Roy can, watch for the goose bumps. Following is the field for the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, which is part of a stakes-filled card at the Meadowlands that begins at 6:35 p.m. (EDT). PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Stay Hungry-Doug McNair-Tony Alagna-3/1 2-This Is The Plan-Tim Tetrick-Chris Ryder-15/1 3-American History-Yannick Gingras-Tony Alagna-5/1 4-Jimmy Freight-Louis Roy-Andrew Harris-9/2 5-Courtly Choice-David Miller-Blake MacIntosh-5/2 6-Nutcracker Sweet-Brian Sears-Jimmy Takter-15/1 7-Hayden Hanover-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-8/1 8-Thinkbig Dreambig-Jordan Stratton-Jimmy Takter-12/1 9-Babes Dig Me-Brett Miller-Tony Alagna-30/1 10-Dorsoduro Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-15/1 Elimination winners Stay Hungry and Courtly Choice drew for posts one through six. The remaining horses were then placed in an open draw. For the complete Meadowlands card, click here. For Meadowlands announcer Ken Warkentin's analysis of all the races, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

East Rutherford, NJ - Meadowlands Pace night is billed as the "Greatest Party in Harness Racing" and the 2018 edition promises to live up to that tag line both on and off the track. Post time on Saturday is 6:35 pm.   Pace weekend begins with a busy Friday night card where the $350,000 New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) freshman finals hold center stage supported by four Kindergarten legs, a Pick 5 Guaranteed pool of $100,000 buoyed by a $28,976 carry over and the mandatory payout of the last race Jackpot Super Hi-5 pool, currently at $276,939, that could well enter seven figure territory by post time.   The $75,000 NJSS pacing finals are led by Hurrikane Emperor who has dominated the pacing colts in each leg and meets the same three rivals on Friday (non-betting event at 6:15 pm) for trainers John McDermott, père et fils and owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing, Pegasis Invst Group, and G. Vierno.   Molly Dooker is an even money morning line choice in the filly race for the Visionary Breeders of NJ, who turns out to be trainer Tony Alagna. She jogged in last week's leg, finishing a 1:54.1 mile with a 27.1 final quarter for driver Brett Miller to win by more than four.   The NJSS trotting finals are both full of exciting prospects, ten in each $125,000 race in fact.   The fillies come up in race 5 where sires Father Patrick and Trixton, who are represented by 19 of the 20 finalists, have the two logical favorites.   Whispering Oaks, by Father Patrick, was a leg #1 winner in 1:55.4 largely due to the talents of her driver Yannick Gingras as she raced greenly while Yannick kept her not only on stride but on course to get the win in the last step. Jimmy Takter trains Whispering Oaks for Brixton Medical, Herb Liverman and R A W Equine, Inc.   Mother Bonnie scored her win in leg two for Andy McCarthy trotting to a national season's best of 1:55. The Trixton lass is a Robert McNerney and Hauser Brothers Racing homebred from the Noel Daley stable.   The result of the colt final will largely depend on the state of mind that the enigmatic Greenshoe brings into the race. The son of Father Patrick has exhibited extreme talent, winning a baby race in 1:55 on June 2, but has also demonstrated a fractious side which led to going him off stride at the start in his leg one appearance, only to make a sensational recovery and win the race in 1:56.2 despite the ground given with the miscue. Brian Sears has the assignment to keep Greenshoe to task for trainer Marcus Melander and owner Courant, Inc.   On Saturday night the eight Grand Circuit stakes are led by the $701,800 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace (race 8), clearly one of the most competitive in the 42 year history of the stake.   Last season's O'Brien freshman award winner Stay Hungry (Doug McNair), owned by Brad Grant and the late Irwin Samelman and Courtly Choice, racing for the interests of Hutt Racing, Mac & Heim Stable, Daniel Plouffe and Touch Stone Stable, supplemented to the race at a cost of more than $62,000, won last week's elimination races and have the favorite's target on their backs.   Trainer Tony Alagna sends out three for the final including the aforementioned Stay Hungry, the season's fastest sophomore in American History (Yannick Gingras drives for Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz and American History Racing) who was second in the Courtly Choice elim and Babe's Dig Me (Brett Miller for Grant, Joe Sbrocco, Robert LeBlanc and In The Gym).   Courtly Choice carries the hopes of trainer Blake Macintosh and partners who backed their talented colt with a large cheque to give him a shot at the title. He also offers Hall of Fame driver Dave Miller one of his best chances to win the Pace, something he has yet to do.   The supporting card is nothing short of amazing with the $405,000 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-olds bringing harness racing's newest diva Ariana G back to the track just one week removed from her brilliant world record 1:50.2 demolition of many of these same rivals in last Saturday's Graduate final. Gingras has the drive on her for Takter and owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.   A dozen talented debutantes will contest the sophomore pacing filly Mistletoe Shalee stake (race 5) led by Kissin In The Sand (Scott Zeron), trained by Nancy Johansson for Marvin Katz and Bud Hatfield Stable, who turned heads with a gritty uncovered masterpiece in the Lynch Memorial final a fortnight past.   The WR Haughton Memorial (race 10) for older horses and Golden Girls (race 9) for their female counterparts also drew over flow fields of twelve with all of the stars of the division present.   Mcwicked (Brian Sears), as sharp as he's ever been at age 7 for Casie Coleman and owner SSG Stable, will be the choice in the Haughton off his bruising win in the Ben Franklin.   Shartin N (Tim Tetrick) has dominated the pacing mares in 2018, having won all of the major stakes thus far for owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney King and she'll be the strong public choice in the Golden Girls. Jim King, Jr trains.   Note that all 12 horse fields will race at a distance of a mile and one eighth.   Also on the Pace card are the final preps for the upcoming Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks which are set to be raced on Saturday, August 4.   The top colts are all counted among the 16 entered for the $362,000 (divided) Stanley Dancer Memorial (races 4 & 6) with several among them rounding into Hambo form at the perfect time and others still looking for answers.   The $257,000 Del Miller Memorial split into a pair of sevens (race 3 & 11) with a few of those fillies holding hopes of the main event come Hambletonian Day, depending on their performance and that of the colts racing in the Dancer.   How might one begin a card such as this?   Well, here at The Meadowlands we'll kick the evening off with a pair of Miss Versatility divisions for the finest aged trotting mares around, among them 2018 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover (Gingras) who has been flawless thus far in the new season.   Off the track there's a ton going on with the always popular Pace T-shirt giveaway, the $500 win wager promotion and a BBQ contest along with various activities for the family.   For the horseplayer Pace night is one of the highlights each season with big pools and the horizontal guarantees have been increased accordingly. The Pick 5 is guaranteed at $40,000 and the Pick 4 hiked to $75,000 for the evening. Free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster.   Pace night is always a highlight of the racing season and this year the experience is one you'll want to be a part of.   Remember, post time is 6:35.   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands        

Elkton, MD --- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by BetAmerica, kicks off their first of two live remotes at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment on Saturday night as they bring coverage of the 2018 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. Mike and Mike will have extensive coverage of The Meadowlands Pace beginning at 8:00 PM via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com that will run for three-hours. Jessica Otten will join the duo who will be providing interviews from the winners' circle, pre and post-race reaction, and handicapping analysis of the stakes laden program at The Meadowlands. First post at The Meadowlands on Saturday night is 6:35. For patrons on track, they can enjoy great BBQ from some of the best local food trucks & restaurants in the area. The event runs from 6 PM to 10 PM in the Backyard, and there will be prizes for winners in a multitude of categories. The Meadowlands will also have a multitude of promotions going on throughout the night. They begin the night with a 2018 Meadowlands Pace t-shirt giveaway at 5:30 PM (1 per person). Two lucky contestants will be randomly selected to win a $500 win bet on Saturday. The wager will be good for select races and the winning patron keeps all-pari-mutuel winnings. On-track guests can also register for Horse Play, and see live music by Second Contact. The FanDuel Sportsbook will open on Saturday morning at 11:00 am where patrons can wager on all major U.S sports. Customers will be able to watch games and dine on the great food the state of the art facility has to offer. Post Time with Mike and Mike will have a table set up by the Winners Circle at The Meadowlands from 5:15 PM to 6:15 PM to greet fans and talk about race horse adoption, presented by New Vocations. Post Time with Mike and Mike's live show can be heard via their website, www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com and on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. by Michael Carter for the Post TIme Show

When trainer Blake MacIntosh prepared Courtly Choice for his return to action this season, he sensed the 3-year-old pacer was more professional and focused. Since then, Courtly Choice has seemed determined to prove MacIntosh correct. The colt, with the exception of two luckless starts, has landed in the winner's circle every time out this year and heads to Saturday's $701,830 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace at the Meadowlands Racetrack as the 5-2 morning-line favorite. "He just wants to win this year," MacIntosh said. "Even training down he was a totally different horse. As a 2-year-old he was looking all over the place and was real lazy. He's really matured a lot." The Meadowlands Pace is part of a card with the $471,100 William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers, $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, $191,800 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers, $189,750 Golden Girls for older female pacers, two $181,000 divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, two $128,500 divisions of the Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters, and two $30,000 divisions of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters. Seven of the top nine horses in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll will be in action: No. 1 Hannelore Hanover (Miss Versatility), No. 2 Shartin N (Golden Girls), No. 5 McWicked (Haughton), No. 6 Manchego (Miller), No. 7 Ariana G (Maturity), No. 8 Kissin In The Sand (Mistletoe Shalee), and No. 9 Wolfgang (Dancer). Racing begins at 6:35 p.m. (EDT). Courtly Choice, a son of Art Major out of Hall of Fame broodmare Lady Ashlee Ann, won two of 12 races and earned $53,351 last year. In his fourth career start, he equaled the track record at Saratoga with a 1:53.1 mile in a division of the New York Sire Stakes, but a tough trip in his next outing launched a six-race stretch in which he failed to hit the board. "The next week (after Saratoga) he got his feelings a little bit hurt, he got parked, and he was sour for a couple starts," MacIntosh said. "He's just really matured. His feelings don't get hurt now; he wants to go and he wants to win races." Last weekend, Courtly Choice and Stay Hungry each won his elimination for the Meadowlands Pace, with Courtly Choice winning in 1:48.2 and Stay Hungry in 1:49. Stay Hungry, the 2017 O'Brien Award-winner as Canada's best 2-year-old male pacer, was made the 3-1 second choice. Courtly Choice's elimination victory was made possible by MacIntosh and the colt's fellow owners -- Joe Thomson, Daniel Plouffe, Steve Heimbecker, and Joe Intine -- paying in the neighborhood of $60,000 to enter the horse in the race because he was not previously staked to the event. MacIntosh said the decision to pay the supplement was made after seeing North America Cup champion Lather Up and Dan Patch Award-winner Lost In Time would miss the race. "I looked at the field and thought we had a good shot at this," MacIntosh said. "I texted Daniel Plouffe and said it's too bad we're not paid in and he said let's do it. He was all for it. I called the other partners and we all agreed to go ahead and do it." Courtly Choice has won five of seven starts this year, earning $120,245. His only losses came in two previous eliminations, the first for the Pepsi North America Cup and the other for the Max C. Hempt Memorial. He failed to advance to the final in both races, undone by hooking wheels with a rival in the Cup and unable to rally from an eighth-place start in the Hempt. He won each event's consolation race the following week. Now he will get his chance in a final. "I think he's a nice horse and deserves to be the favorite," MacIntosh said. Stay Hungry's win in his Meadowlands Pace elimination was his first victory since winning his North America Cup elimination in June. He finished fourth in the Cup final, after which he was found to be sick, and then was third in his elimination of the Hempt and fourth in the final. "He's come back well," said Tony Alagna, who trains Stay Hungry. "The five-eighths-mile racing (in the Hempt) isn't really his forte. I thought he was a little short in the North America Cup, I thought he should have been at least second to Lather Up, but he scoped with some mucous that night. We've been really working hard on that and everything came together (in his Meadowlands Pace elimination)." Stay Hungry, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of My Little Dragon, has won eight of 15 career races and earned $684,384. He is owned by Brad Grant and Irwin Samelman and is one of three Pace finalists for Alagna, with American History and Babes Dig Me. Alagna won the 2013 Meadowlands Pace with Captaintreacherous. Following is the field for the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Stay Hungry-Doug McNair-Tony Alagna-3/1 2-This Is The Plan-Tim Tetrick-Chris Ryder-15/1 3-American History-Yannick Gingras-Tony Alagna-5/1 4-Jimmy Freight-Louis Roy-Andrew Harris-9/2 5-Courtly Choice-David Miller-Blake MacIntosh-5/2 6-Nutcracker Sweet-Brian Sears-Jimmy Takter-15/1 7-Hayden Hanover-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-8/1 8-Thinkbig Dreambig-Jimmy Takter-Jimmy Takter-12/1 9-Babes Dig Me-Brett Miller-Tony Alagna-30/1 10-Dorsoduro Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-15/1 Elimination winners Stay Hungry and Courtly Choice drew for posts one through six. The remaining horses were then placed in an open draw. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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