Meadowlands Pace Looms As Harness Racing Season Peaks

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The purse for the annual Meadowlands Pace event for three-year-old pacers no longer has that “million dollar mystique,” but the card coming up on Saturday night in East Rutherford continues as one of harness racing’s biggest events of the calendar year.

Beach Glass gained 7-5 morning-line status for the $600,000 event due in large part to his winning elimination race last weekend by a strong 5¼ lengths. Beach Glass held off I Did It Myway and Greatest Ending in the early going, then went into overdrive down the stretch with driver Yannick Gingras as Captain Cowboy ultimately claimed second place.

“I didn’t know, but I thought he might be [ready for that type of performance], and I was hoping he was,” trainer Brent MacGrath told a Meadowands Racetrack reporter. “We’re high on him. He’s just a really nice colt that’s green, and he got woke up here tonight. Hopefully it will set up good for [Saturday].”

The son of Somebeachsomewhere and Im With Her has a strong pedigree, as the former horse won 20 of 21 career races — but settled for second place in the 2008 Meadowlands Pace.

“I said to Yannick when he pulled up in the winner’s circle that I’ve been this far before,” MacGrath said. “We need to finish this off. To have a son of Beach’s last crop, one we bred … it’s just unbelievable.”

Beach Glass is just getting started, relatively speaking, having won two of four races this year and five out of nine in his career with three runner-up finishes.

Odds for the rest of the field

The other elimination race winner, Market Based, was listed at 5-1 on the morning line after a close win as an 11-1 underdog. Market Based had to rally in the stretch to beat favorite Night Hawk by a neck. After that close finish, Night Hawk was given the second-shortest Pace odds at 4-1.

The elimination winners were guaranteed preferred slots of one through six in the 10-horse field, with Beach Glass settling for the sixth slot. Market Based claimed the 4 slot, and preferred slotting for all but the two fifth-place finishers left Mad Max Hanover at 15-1 in the 9 slot and Captainryanmichael at 20-1 in slot 10.

Captain Cowboy in Post 1 and Early Action in Post 5 each were given 8-1 odds of winning, while Fourever Boy in Post 7 and I Did It Myway — an homage to Hoboken native Frank Sinatra — in Post 8 scored 10-1 odds. Caviart Camden is at 12-1 even with a favorable Post 2 slot.

The Pace card — dubbed “The Greatest Party In Harness Racing” — also features six other races for six-figure purses, led by the $450,000 WR Haughton Open Pace and the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity.

The races will be carried live on NYRA’s America’s Day at the Races broadcast from 8 to 11 p.m. on FOX Sports 2. Post time for the Pace is estimated as 10:40 p.m.

A DJ, carnival rides, and more than a dozen food trucks will add to the evening’s festivities. Tables can be reserved for those who seek guaranteed seating.

Meadowlands Pace glory days

The first Meadowlands Pace at the Meadowlands Racetrack took place in 1997, when Escort won a $425,000 purse that at the time was the richest in harness racing history.

The horses didn’t get running until 12:12 a.m., but for a good reason: The lines to wager for each race were so long that track officials allowed for extra time to enable more bettors to get in their picks.

In 1980, Niatross won the Pace and $1.01 million — the first seven-figure purse in U.S. horse racing history.

The top prize was $1 million or more in seven of the next nine years, and reached that milestone every year from 1990 through 2012.

In 2013, 3-5 favorite Captaintreacherous — another sire of Somebeachsomewhere — earned a more modest $635,750 prize.

The other New Jersey standardbred racing key date coming up is The Hambletonian, an afternoon card on Aug. 6.

Photo: Shutterstock

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