Two-year-olds were in the spotlight on Saturday, Nov. 18 at The Meadowlands in six $20,000 eliminations for next week’s four big-money “Fall Four” finals.
Driver Tim Tetrick will have a tough choice to make in the $428,000 Goldsmith Maid for trotting fillies, as the 41-year-old pilot hit the winner’s circle in both elims, the first with the Lucas Wallin-trained Soiree Hanover, and the second, with John Butenschoen’s R Melina.
“She’s so good off a helmet but the way things shook out, I didn’t want to sit third through slow fractions, so I moved her to the front,” said Tetrick of Soiree Hanover, who’s now won six-of-nine lifetime starts. “This mare been good all year. This one can win the first weekend of August next year [in the Hambletonian Oaks].”
Finishing second through fourth and qualifying for the final were Pizzelle, Honeys Sweet and Walcango, respectively. Soiree Hanover (Walner-Spring Gala) paid $2.60 to win as the 1-5 favourite after completing the mile in 1:55.4.
R Melina (Chapter Seven-Goodtogo Hanover) moved to the lead down the backstretch and took the second elim easily in 1:53.4.
“She’s super good,” said Tetrick. “She just kept on marching.”
As the even-money public choice, R Melina returned $4 to win while upping her stats to seven wins in 10 outings.
Finishing second through fourth to get into the final were Glamorous Hanover, French Champagne and Paulina Hanover, respectively. Pisco Sour, the fifth-place finisher in the first elim, earned the final berth by lot over the other fifth-place finisher, Ice Cream, who is Also Eligible 1. Sambuca Hanover received a bye and completes the field.
Which one will Tetrick drive in the final? “I’ll just have to sleep on it,” he said.
The first of two Governor’s Cup eliminations for male pacers went to Captain Luke (Captaintreacherous-Bodacious Hanover), who sat a pocket trip before charging home for Todd McCarthy to score in 1:51.4. It was the first win of the Tony Alagna trainee’s career in 11 tries.
As the 3-2 favourite, Captain Luke returned $5 to win.
“I quite like him,” said McCarthy. “A good mile on a chilly night. It was the first time I sat behind him tonight and I tried to get a feel for him looking forward to next week. I was happy to be in the two-hole.”
Finishing second through fourth and earning berths in the $454,000 final were Newsroom, Its Saturday Night and T H Tyson, respectively.
Maxim Hanover (Captaintreacherous-Mean Leen) went a giant mile first-over to score in the other Governor's Cup elim in 1:52 for Andy McCarthy and Robert Cleary to register his fourth win from 11 outings.
The 4-1 second choice returned $10.20 to his backers.
Wish You Well, Booming Economy and Huntingforchrome finished second through fourth, respectively to punch their tickets to the final. Noblesville, the fifth-place finisher in the first elim, earned a spot by lot over the other fifth-place finisher, Nuclear, who is Also Eligible 1. Lou Vuitton completes the field having received a bye to the final.
There was but one Three Diamonds elimination for filly pacers and the winner provided no surprise as Breeders Crown champion My Girl E J scored as the 1-9 public choice ($2.20 to win) for Dexter Dunn and Ron Burke. The daughter of Sweet Lou-Lucys Pearl made it five wins in 12 outings after stopping the clock in 1:51.4.
“She’s pretty fast,” said Dunn, “and a bit of a character on the track. She felt great tonight.”
Finishing second through eighth were Miraculous Deo, Miki In Luv, Blue Pacific, Foxy Hill, Sarasota Hanover, Camerican and Fresh Mist, respectively, to earn spots in the $376,000 final. Also advancing were Caviart Belle and Peace Talks, who received byes.
Winter Soldier went a perfect pocket trip to take the lone Valley Victory elimination for male trotters. The Face Time Bourbon-Jumalay Mass product recorded his fifth win from 11 starts after hitting the wire in 1:55 for Andy McCarthy and Alagna. He paid $6.80 as the second choice.
The second through eighth-place finishers were Daiquiri Hanover, Waterfall, Flying Kronos S, Victor Laszlo, Bright Star, Nottingham and Wild Ticket, respectively, to earn spots behind the gate for the $423,000 final. Completing the field are Karl and Security Protected, who received byes.
QUALIFIER REPORT: Hambletonian champion Tactical Approach qualified in 1:53 to prepare for his matchup next week against the best older trotters in North America in the FanDuel Trot while Meadowlands Pace winner – and current heavy favourite to win U.S. Horse of the Year – Confederate qualified in 1:51.2 for his presumed matchup with Breeders Crown champ Bythemissal, as well as Tattoo Artist, who qualified in 1:51.2, in the FanDuel Pace. A report on the qualifying session with replays is available here.
A LITTLE MORE: Andy McCarthy led the driver colony with four winners on the program. Robert Cleary and Alagna paced the trainers with two victories apiece. All-source wagering totalled $3,209,149 on the 14-race card, the 53rd time from 77 programs betting busted the $3-million barrier at The Big M during 2023. There is no racing on Friday, Nov. 24 due to the Jets-Dolphins game at MetLife Stadium. Racing resumes on Saturday at 6:20 p.m.