1. National Debt, Scott Zeron, Ron Coyne Jr., 50-1
Last year, National Debt won all four of his starts while competing in Alberta for trainer/co-owner Kelly Hoerdt, who received Canada’s 2013 O’Brien Award for Horsemanship. He was sent to New Jersey-based trainer Ron Coyne Jr. for the start of this season and captured the Gilmour Memorial Series during the winter.
National Debt, who finished fifth in his Pace elimination, won by JK Endofanera, has won seven of 10 lifetime races and earned $76,073. Owned by Hoerdt, Blair and Erna Corbeil, and the J&T Silva Stables, National Debt had issues with allergies earlier this season while racing in Canada and missed nearly two months prior to his Pace elim.
“He had a couple good tighteners in qualifiers, and this was his first test for speed against these colts, but all in all it went well,” Coyne said. “He showed a good burst of speed at the end, he came home :26.2 and he finished up really nice, so I was really happy about that. It’s all a matter of the post and the trip and we’ll see if we get lucky.
“We missed a few of the big dances, but we’re ready to go again,” Coyne said.
2. JK Endofanera, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 2-1
JK Endofanera (Art Major-Presidential Lady) won his elimination in 1:48.2 and is the 2-1 morning line favorite. He is trying to become the 10th horse to win both the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace. For more, read here.
3. He’s Watching, Tim Tetrick, David Menary, 5-2
He’s Watching (American Ideal-Baberhood) won his elimination in 1:48.1 and is 5-2 on the morning line. He was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. For more, read here.
4. Tellitlikeitis, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 12-1
One of two horses in the race from the Takter Stable, Tellitlikeitis (Well Said-Kikikatie) is a son of 2009 Meadowlands Pace winner Well Said out of the million-dollar-earning mare Kikikatie. He led early in his Pace elimination, which was won by He’s Watching, but finished fifth.
Tellitlikeitis, owned by Lothlorien stable, has won four of 12 career races and $389,022. He finished second to JK Endofanera in the North America Cup.
“I expect him to be better,” Takter said. “He had three weeks off [prior to his Pace elim] and that’s a long time in this group. I had to play it like that with him, unfortunately. I cannot race him every dance because he has issues. But he’s got a perfect seat, the four post. If the pace is right, we know he can pace :25 the last quarter. If I get him a little bit better, he’s quick enough that he can give you something.”
5. Luck Be Withyou, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes, 6-1
The 2013 Breeders Crown champion finished third in his Pace elim, won by He’s Watching. Luck Be Withyou has won once in five starts this season and captured six of 16 career races, good for $404,827. He is owned by John Craig and trained by Bill Cass in Canada, with Oakes taking over in the U.S.
Luck Be Withyou is a son of Western Ideal out of the mare Trim Hanover. He is a three-quarter brother to millionaire female pacer American Jewel.
6. Lyonssomewhere, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-1
The colt tried to find room inside of JK Endofanera in the stretch, but was unable to get past the leader and finished third in his Pace elimination. Just three-quarters of a length separated JK Endofanera, runner-up Always B Miki, and Lyonssomewhere.
Geoffrey Lyons Mound owns Lyonssomewhere, who is a son of 2008 Horse of the Year Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Miss Kitty Hanover. He has won five of seven career races and $98,570.
“He didn’t have enough room, but I thought he raced really, really good,” Takter said. “He can step out of the gate extremely well. It’s hard not to take advantage of that, but by the same token, you pay a little bit for that.
“At the Meadowlands, it’s not necessarily the best spot to sit behind the leader unless he’s a very good leader. If you don’t get racing room, you’re playing with luck. With luck, yes he can win, without a doubt, and we need to be lucky in this race. It will be an interesting race.”
7. Jet Airway, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 15-1
Erv Miller is hoping for big things from the big horse as the year goes on. Jet Airway opened 2014 with a second-place finish to JK Endofanera in the Simpson Memorial at the Meadowlands.
Owned by Miller, Tangie Massey, Paul Sunderhaus, and Larry Agle, Jet Airway has won six of 18 career races and $130,834. He is a son of Jereme’s Jet out of the mare Aromatic. He raced 10 times as a 2-year-old, winning three races, but was shut down in early October.
Marcus Miller, who recently got career win No. 2,000, is Erv’s 25-year-old son.
“He’s a really fast horse, a big horse,” Miller said about Jet Airway. “I think, hopefully, from midseason on he’ll just keep getting better. It just seems he needed the racing to get going. He went a big mile [in his elim]. Marcus did a good job and he had a lot of pace finishing.
“I could tell last year he was a pretty nice horse. I wanted to shut him down because he was real immature. I think as time goes, he’ll just keep getting better.”
8. Sometimes Said, Corey Callahan, Jim Campbell, 15-1
Always in the hunt, Sometimes Said has won only twice but hit the board in 14 of 18 career races. He finished second by a neck from post nine in last year’s Breeders Crown, which was won by Luck Be Withyou, and was second in the 2013 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.
Owned by Fashion Farms, Sometimes Said is a son of Well Said out of the mare Lady Sometimes. He has earned $341,254 lifetime.
Sometimes Said finished second in his Pace elim, beaten 2-3/4 lengths by He’s Watching.
“He’s had a good week,” Campbell said. “It’s hard to say whether post eight will help him or hurt him, it depends how the race unfolds. It would probably be in his best interest if they’re rolling along up front and he can get cover in the outer tier.
“It’s a tough group of horses. He went a big trip last week and he’ll have to come back and be better than that this week.”
9. Always B Miki, David Miller, Joe Holloway, 4-1
Came home the fastest of all Meadowlands Pace finalists with a :26.1 final quarter-mile to miss by a neck to JK Endofanera in his Pace elim. Always B Miki has won five of 20 career races and earned $219,916. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Val D’Or Farms, and Roll The Dice Stable.
Always B Miki was disqualified from third to fifth for interference in his Hempt Memorial elimination and went off stride in his North America Cup elim. He has three wins, including a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, and two second-place finishes (by a neck and a nose) in the five starts this year in which he’s minded his manners.
“I was apprehensive coming into [the Pace elimination] because he’s just been a problem horse that way,” Holloway said. “He’s got a lot of speed, but he’s not the easiest horse to deal with. He steered fairly well [in his elim] and raced well. He can go a tough trip, he’s probably one of the tougher ones that way, but he is tough to deal with.
“He’s got the speed to go wherever they want to go. As long as he gets a decent trip he’ll work it out from there.”
Always B Miki is a son of Always A Virgin, who was trained by Holloway and won two legs of the Pacing Triple Crown (Cane Pace and Messenger) in 2007, out of the mare Artstopper. He is a half-brother to Yagonnakissmeornot, who finished second in this year’s Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final.
10. Doo Wop Hanover, John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 30-1
Elliott is the only trainer in the race to have won the Meadowlands Pace previously, having captured the trophy in 2006 with Artistic Fella and 2009 with Well Said. Only two trainers, Brett Pelling and Bill Robinson, have more Pace victories.
Doo Wop Hanover finished fourth in his Pace elim, which was won by JK Endofanera. He is a son of 2005 Meadowlands Pace winner Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Deer Valley Miss and is a three-quarter brother to stakes winner Knock Three Times.
For his career, Doo Wop Hanover has won five of 19 races and $180,788. He won the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship in May and the Hempt Memorial Consolation in a career-best 1:49 on June 28. He is owned by Peter Blood, Rick Berks and Gary Piontkowski.
Post 10 has produced four Meadowlands Pace winners, tied for the third most of any starting spot, but none since The Panderosa in 1999.
“I’ve had better draws,” Elliott said with a laugh. “But when [Doo Wop Hanover] gets on the lead or first over, he wants to rock and roll, and he’s better with a trip. We should be able to get a trip from there, we’ll just hope it’s not a bad one.
“He’s been good all year. He’s a nice colt. He might be a notch below the best ones, but there’s so many times now when the trip dictates the outcome. We just want to be somewhere in the live flow. You’ve got to be in it. If you’re not in it, you can’t win it.”
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Tim Tetrick and Ron Pierce have enjoyed multiple successes in the Meadowlands Pace in recent years, combining to win six of the last seven editions of the race.
Pierce has won the Meadowlands Pace a total of four times, second to only John Campbell’s seven Pace victories for the most among all drivers in history. Pierce’s victories were with Dream Away (1997), Art Official (2008), Well Said (2009) and Roll With Joe (2011).
He drives Luck Be Withyou in Saturday’s race. Luck Be Withyou, who starts from post five and is 6-1 on the morning line, finished third in his Pace elimination, which was won by He’s Watching.
Pierce won last season’s Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers with Luck Be Withyou.
Tetrick has won the Meadowlands Pace with Southwind Lynx (2007), One More Laugh (2010) and Captaintreacherous (2013). He drives He’s Watching in Saturday’s race, starting from post three.
He’s Watching, who won his Pace elimination in 1:48.1, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. He was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer.
“I sure would love to [win again],” Tetrick said. “I have a great horse to do it with. I like my chances.
“There are some really nice colts in here and it’s a tough group.”
Campbell will go for Meadowlands Pace win No. 8 with Doo Wop Hanover from post 10. Brian Sears, driving 2-1 morning line favorite JK Endofanera, tries for his second Pace triumph while Yannick Gingras, with Lyonssomewhere, also will be going for his second win.
Scott Zeron (driving National Debt), Brett Miller (Tellitlikeitis), Marcus Miller (Jet Airway), Corey Callahan (Sometimes Said) and David Miller (Always B Miki) all are seeking their first Meadowlands Pace win.
Harness Racing Communications/US Trotting Assn.