Courtly Choice matures into Pace favorite
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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. (Ken Weingartner/USTA)