Etched waited in the wings as Great Debater led the field to the quarter in :23.1 and half in :46.4 before launching his bid on the far turn. Flanked by Kiss The Kid to his outside and Great Debater on the rail, Etched shook free at the top of the stretch and briefly extended his lead before being asked to hold off the game Kiss The Kid by a neck. Ridden by Alan Garcia, Etched ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:45.4 over a sloppy track.
"We had a great trip," Garcia said. "He broke well and sat right in behind the early speed. At the quarter pole I had a horse on the inside and outside of me and figured that was the time to let him go. I thought it was best to let him run his race and he did just that. The horse on the outside [Kiss The Kid] wasn't going to go by us. This is a smart and talented horse."
Etched provided Garcia and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin each with his first Meadowland Cup trophy. The 4-year-old son of Forestry out of the Unbridled's Song mare Unbridled Elaine has now won five of six career starts. His only loss came in Dubai in the UAE 2000 Guineas last February.
"This horse has been training great up at Saratoga," said Andrew St. Lawrence, McLaughlin's assistant trainer. "When he's on his game, he's on it. He's now a perfect five-for-five in the U.S. You can't argue with that. He was real impressive and the time [1:45.4] was good."
As for whether the colt will make his next start in the Breeders' Cup next month at Santa Anita, St. Lawrence said, "The way he ran here, I wouldn't be surprised, but that's for Kiaran and Darley [Stable] to decide."
The 10-race card Friday night also featured the $60,000 Princeton and Thomas Edison stakes, two events originally slated for the turf.
Bunker Hill announced his candidacy for the Grade 3 Pegasus on Nov. 6 with an easy victory in the 1 3/8-mile Princeton. Bunker Hill, with Joe Bravo up, stalked Swinging Bernie through opening splits of :24.3 and :48.3 and inched closer to the leader's head as they reached three-quarters in 1:12.1. The pair matched strides on the final turn before Bunker Hill broke free and drew off to a 2 1/2-length victory in 1:48.4. Dubai Review chased the leaders on the turn and closed for second, while Swinging Bernie faded to third. Bunker Hill paid $3.20 to win the fifth race.
"My job was to keep him relaxed and, truthfully, just to stay out of his way," Bravo said. "He's a well developing 3-year-old and they found a great, easy spot for this horse. He just galloped around there nicely. He felt like he was King Kong."
Flying Dutchman Thoroughbreds' Bunker Hill improved his record to four wins and four seconds in 12 career starts. Trainer Derek Ryan indicated the $150,000, 1 1/8-mile Pegasus on Friday, Oct. 6 could be next up for the son of Trippi.
"It's tough to find spots for 3-year-olds this time of year," Ryan said. "We'll nominate to the Pegasus and take a look. This race was a real nice confidence booster and now that we know he likes the track, that's probably where we'll go."
On The Vineyard got up in the final strides to win the 5-furlong Thomas Edison in 55.4 for the team of jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. and owner-trainer Lynne Scace. Cardashi closed between horses to finish a head behind in second, while Perfect Officer rallied on the far outside for third. On The Vineyard, who surpassed $200,000 in earnings with the victory, returned a $4.80 win mutuel.