Sometimes long range plans do pan out.
Myron Bell starting thinking in March and April about the inaugural $512,000 TVG Free-For-All Pacing Final on Saturday night at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment for the sensational 3-year-old colt Captaintreacherous.
“There were four races we wanted to participate in this year: the North American Cup, The Meadowlands Pace, the Breeders Crown and the TVG Final,” said Bell, manager of Captaintreacherous Racing.
The Captain sailed through the first three missions with victories. Now comes the biggest challenge, in what could be the race of the year.
By virtue of the Breeders Crown win, Captaintreacherous was invited to TVG Final where he faces a stellar lineup of nine older pacers, including Foiled Again and Pet Rock.
The leading 3-year-olds in harness racing rarely step out of their division to tackle the older horses. In a very sporting gesture, Captaintreacherous team of Bell, trainer Tony Alagna and driver Tim Tetrick have embraced the challenge.
“It’s an honor and privilege to race a colt against the aged horses,” Bell said. “Let the chips fall where they may.”
And the Captain will have to overcome an outside post, No. 8.
“Naturally, we would like to draw better,” Bell said. “That’s the card dealt us. We’ll make the best of it. It’s now Timmy Tetrick’s job. He’s pretty high on the horse, as we all are. I’m sure he’ll give a good account. We have a lot of confidence in our animal.”
The TVG Series is part of Meadowlands chairman Jeff Gural’s goal of enhancing opportunities for older horses. The series, split into pacing and trotting divisions, offered preliminary legs and major stakes bound together by a season-long point system. The top qualifiers advanced to the $500,000 guaranteed finals for both gaits.
In what turned out to be a brilliant stroke, the series awarded invitations to the winners of the 3-year-old Breeders Crowns. That provision set the stage for this dramatic showdown.
While Captaintreacherous is the baby in the field, the indomitable Foiled Again is the graybeard at 9.
Harness racing’s all-time money earner at $5.7 million looks as good as ever.
“He couldn’t be better,” trainer Ron Burke said. “He’s in career form. It’s an awesome opportunity for him. It’s going to be one of the better races of the year.”
Winner of the Breeders Crown for aged pacers last month, Foiled Again captured the final TVG leg last Saturday, opening night of the new Meadowlands grandstand.
It was a typical Foiled Again effort: a game first-over grind under less than ideal conditions.
“That’s his kind of race,” Burke said. “We need to turn it not into a test of pure speed but a test of will, of who wants it the most. I don’t care who he is racing against. He will out try them.”
It was also an encouraging score at a track where Foiled Again has not excelled. He is only 2 for 33 at The Meadowlands.
Like Old Man River, Foiled Again keeps rolling along. He is 10 for 28 this year, and no longer amazes Burke with his ability to defy the sands of time.
“At one time I was surprised, but not now,” Burke said. “We’ve almost come to expect it. He’s such an unbelievable horse. He never shows us a reason to stop believing. Every time you ask him to do more, he goes out and does more.”
Foiled Again, from post 4 with Yannick Gingras at the lines, is one of three Burke trainees in the final. He also sends out Bettor’s Edge and Sweet Lou, fourth to Foiled Again last week.
Burke feels Sweet Lou, with Matt Kakaley in the sulky, could be the sleeper in the field.
“He’s coming back into form,” Burke said. “I love Matt on him. He was sneaky good in the Breeders Crown final. I think he’s the one horse I’ve got that’s rounding back into shape. He drew a great spot. He fits well with those horses. He’ll never get embarrassed. I actually like his chances too.”
While most of the attention focuses on a Captaintreacherous vs. Foiled Again showdown, Pet Rock could easily upset this applecart.
“To win the race, you first have to beat Pet Rock,” Burke said. “Everyone is talking Foiled vs. Captain. Believe me, the first horse they have to beat is Pet Rock. That horse doesn’t lay down for anybody.”
Dynamic Youth, Modern Legend, Golden Receiver, Warrawee Needy and Bolt The Duer complete the field.
Market Share, the 2012 Hambletonian winner, has the outside post in the seven-horse final of $500,000 TVG Trot.
Like Foiled Again, Market Share was a Breeders’ Crown winner at Pocono Downs, one of his five victories from 13 starts this season.
Just like the TVG Pace, the Trot also features a stellar 9-year-old in Arch Madness with over $4 million in the bank.
Guccio, Uncle Peter, Wishing Stone, My MVP and Mister Herbie round out the lineup.
The 13-race card that starts at 7:15 p.m. serves up eight stakes races, including an appearance by Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician, 16 for 16 on the season and a top contender for Horse of the Year honors, in the $253,000 Moni Maker Stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies.
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