Elims in books; Teagues achieve Pace firsts
July 09, 2011
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After a relatively slow pace to the half, the two eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace were determined by the last half sprinting efforts of Custard The Dragon and Big Jim, who had taken the lead with relative ease and then weren't pressured until the stretch drive. Hoosier Cup winner Custard The Dragon and New Jersey Classic winner Big Jim won their respective $50,000 eliminations in 1:50.1 and 1:50 for the $1 million Meadowlands Pace Saturday night at the Meadowlands.
George Teague Jr. trains Custard The Dragon. He will have a starter in the Meadowlands Pace final for the sixth straight year, a record for a trainer. Teague's 20-year-old son Montrell, who drove Custard The Dragon, will become the youngest to drive in the race.
As elimination winners, their connections will have their pick of post positions when they are drawn on Tuesday. The top five from each elimination race contested on Saturday night advanced to the final.
In the first elimination, Yannick Gingras shot Wink N Atcha to the lead from post 10 while his stablemate, Custard The Dragon, also left strongly from post three. Gingras powered to the front with a :26.3 first quarter sprint, then yielded to Custard The Dragon.
Teague was able to settle his horse and slow the pace, stealing a :29 second quarter breather. "I backed the half down as much as I could," said Montrell Teague of hitting the beam at :55.3.
By the three-quarter mark (1:24.1), Roll With Joe was threatening from first-over, but Custard The Dragon had plenty of fire left, sprinting home in :26.1, which allowed him to win by one length. The next four finishers were all on the wire together, with Foreclosure N taking second, Wink N Atcha third, Roll With Joe fourth and Bestofbest Hanover fifth.
Up The Credit, the North America Cup winner, was raced off the pace, and the slow first half put him in a position that even his respectable :26.2 final quarter wasn't enough. He finished eighth.
"Everybody keeps overlooking him," said George Teague Jr., who trains Custard The Dragon, who is now a winner of four of nine starts this year.
Custard The Dragon, a 3-year-old son of Dragon Again-Eternal Justice, has seven wins, one second and two thirds from 13 career starts, earning $551,667 for the ownership of Ted Gewertz of New York, NY; Robert Feldman of Palm Beach, FL; Fannin Racing LLC of Lincoln DE and George Teague Jr. Inc of Harrington, DE.
Big Jim, with Phillip Hudon driving, moved to the lead after an opening quarter in :27.1 and never relinquished the front, taking the second division, the sixth race, in 1:50 flat. The 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year in 2010, Big Jim is trained by James “Friday” Dean and owned Jim Carr of Hamilton, Ontario.
“He was awesome,” said Hudon, who will be making his Meadowlands Pace debut. “He paced right to the wire. It’s going to be an interesting final.”
Hudon and Big Jim started from post three and left the gate with enough speed to stay in the front of the pack. But Jody Jamieson, who had experienced the frustration of racing from behind in the first elim with Up The Credit, wanted the lead with 17-1 Westwardho Hanover and powered to the front.
After Westwardho Hanover hit the quarter mile marker in :27.1, Hudon made the patented Meadowlands move to the front and Big Jim cruised to the half in :55.1 without any pressure. Finally, in the last turn Betterthancheddar was advancing first-over with Powerful Mist second-over. In the homestretch Hudon gave Big Jim a couple of taps with the whip and lines to keep his attention and his colt dug in to keep a safe lead, eventually hitting the wire three-quarters of a length ahead of Powerful Mist.
Also advancing Feel Like A Fool, the third member of the Teague Stable to qualify for the final, and Westwardho Hanover, who was fifth.
Big Jim, a son of Western Ideal-Bold Pink, recorded his third win of the year, with all of them at the Meadowlands. That prompted trainer James Dean to quip, "I think we'll just stay here the rest of the year." (with files from the Meadowlands)