By Ken Weingartner

Two-time defending Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous makes his seasonal debut Friday night in the $100,000 Meadowlands Maturity for 4-year-old pacers at Meadowlands Racetrack. He starts from post 10 in the field of 10, with regular driver Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Tony Alagna.

To his inside, from the rail, are Tarpon Hanover, Dovuto Hanover, Apprentice Hanover, Rockin Amadeus, Sunfire Blue Chip, Word Power, Dedi’s Dragon, Odds On Equuleus, and Twilight Bonfire.

Captaintreacherous has won 21 of 26 career races and earned $2.97 million. This season he will face horses age 4 and older, including 10-year-old Foiled Again – who is the richest harness racing horse in North American history and was Pacer of the Year in 2011 – and 2011 2-year-old division champion Sweet Lou.

“On Friday, we’re going to unveil the 2014 edition of The Captain and we’re ready,” said Myron Bell, who heads the Captaintreacherous Racing ownership group. “We’re very excited. We want to race against the best, and they’re going to race against the best, and the chips will fall where they may.”

At age 2, Captaintreacherous won eight of 10 starts and became the first 2-year-old in 25 years to receive the Dan Patch Award for Pacer of the Year. Last season, Captaintreacherous won 13 of 16 races and $2.05 million on his way to his second Pacer of the Year honor.

His wins included the Breeders Crown, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Max Hempt Memorial, Cane Pace and American-National Stakes. He joined Rocknroll Hanover and Gallo Blue Chip as the only horses to win the Breeders Crown, North America Cup, and Meadowlands Pace in the same season.

Captaintreacherous, who will stand as a stallion at Hanover Shoe Farms in 2015, became the first horse to win back-to-back Pacer of the Year honors since Jenna’s Beach Boy in 1995-96 and joined Niatross as the only horses to accomplish the feat at ages 2 and 3 since the award was first given in 1970. Pacer Bret Hanover was honored at ages 2, 3 and 4 with the Horse of the Year Award from 1964-66.

When you put a horse on a certain pedestal, he has to deliver because the public is very demanding. You’ve got to perform,” Bell said. “He won every major stakes race he could have last year. That speaks for itself. We’re very optimistic about this year.”

nterestingly, three of the five horses to win a race against Captaintreacherous are in the Meadowlands Maturity: Rockin Amadeus, Dedi’s Dragon and Odds On Equuleus. Rockin Amadeus and Odds On Equuleus both accomplished the feat at age 2.

Apprentice Hanover, who has won six of 12 races this year and finished no worse than third, is the field’s top seasonal money-winner with $313,660. He is coming off a second-place finish by a neck to State Treasurer in the Molson Pace on May 30 at The Raceway at Western Fair District.

Captaintreacherous prepped for Friday’s Meadowlands Maturity by competing in three qualifiers since the middle of May. He won the most recent, last Saturday, by 7-1/4 lengths in 1:50.1.

“He’s set the bar high; we had nothing to do with it, we’re just along for the ride,” Bell said. “After a series of races this year against the best we’ll determine where he stands in history.”

Following is the field in post order for the Meadowlands Maturity with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Tarpon Hanover, Ron Pierce, Nick Surick; 2. Dovuto Hanover, Scott Zeron, Darran Cassar; 3. Apprentice Hanover, Jody Jamieson, Ben Wallace; 4. Rockin Amadeus, Corey Callahan, Jimmy Takter; 5. Sunfire Blue Chip, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 6. Word Power, Jim Morrill Jr., Larry Remmen; 7. Dedi’s Dragon, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 8. Odds On Equuleus, Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna; 9. Twilight Bonfire, David Miller, Paul Reid; 10. Captaintreacherous, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna.