Custard The Dragon, who paced to a world-record 1:48.1 in last week’s Delvin Miller Adios eliminations, continued on his roll Wednesday when he drew the rail for Saturday’s $500,000 final of the “Pace for the Orchids” and was installed as the 2-1 morning line favourite
“My reaction is good,” said the favourite’s conditioner, George Teague, Jr., who won last year’s Adios with Delmarvalous and is looking to become only the fifth trainer to go back-to-back in the event. “That’s a pretty good draw. The inside definitely will make him more effective.”
Montrell Teague, who at the age of 20 would become the youngest driver ever to win an Adios final, will pilot Custard The Dragon as he did last week in the fastest mile ever paced by a three-year-old colt on a five-eighths-mile track and the fastest mile ever paced at The Meadows regardless of age.
Prior to his Adios elimination, Custard The Dragon won his Meadowlands Pace elimination race before finishing ninth in the million-dollar final on July 16.
“I've got to turn the page on the Meadowlands Pace,” said Montrell, the youngest driver in the history of the Pace. “You can’t win every race. It would have been great to win the Meadowlands Pace, but [Custard The Dragon] came back the way I wanted him to. It was really thrilling to see the end result.”
Montrell said he received advice from Yannick Gingras, who was 24 when he finished second with Timesareachanging in his first Meadowlands Pace appearance in 2004.
“I was real nervous out there,” he admitted. “Yannick said it would be a moment I would always remember, no matter what happens. Some people wait their whole lives to be there. He was trying to keep me calm, which was a good thing. That was real nice of him.
“It was a great race; I couldn’t wait to go to it. I wish it had a better ending, but it was great to be in it.”
Custard The Dragon and Montrell have enjoyed storybook endings in other races this season. Custard The Dragon has won five of 11 races this year, including the $500,000 Hoosier Cup at Hoosier Park on June 25 and the $300,000 Max Hempt Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on May 21.
Montrell's win in the Hempt made him the second-youngest driver in history to win an unrestricted stakes race worth at least $300,000.
In their Adios elim last week, Montrell and Custard The Dragon got a favourable trip behind favourite Powerful Mist before overtaking the leader in the stretch to win by two and a half lengths.
“I was concentrating on staying up on Powerful Mist’s back,” he explained. “I just wanted to have a shot at the end of it. It was a perfect trip.
“I knew he was back and he was on his game. He came out of it like he never did it. He was playing around and is feeling really good right now.”
George Teague Jr. also will have a shot with his other Adios finalist, Wind Me Up, who drew Post 6.
The eliminations produced a second world champion in Alsace Hanover, whose mile in 1:48.4 was the fastest ever by a three-year-old gelding pacer on a five-eighths-mile track. He drew Post 3 for trainer Tony O’Sullivan and driver Ron Pierce, and was made the 3-1 second choice. The other elimination winner, Jimmy Takter trainee Rollwithitharry, drew Post 5 and will have Tim Tetrick at the lines.
Trainer Ron Burke, whose two finalists, Real Special and Hugadragon, drew Posts 2 and 8 respectively, suggested that the race will be interesting and difficult to handicap thanks to the draw.
“I like the position for Real Special, but it’s a strange set-up,” Burke said. “It will be very difficult for the outside horses to get around both Real Special and Custard The Dragon. I don’t know if they can take that shot.”
The Adios final, projected to go off at approximately 4 p.m., will anchor an outstanding 17-race card that will offer more than $1.1 million in purses. Also featured are the $181,000 Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo for three-year-old filly pacers; the $120,000 Gov. Lawrence for two-year-old colt and gelding pacers; the $50,000 Adios consolation, and four $50,000 Opens.
On Adios Day, The Meadows will guarantee a $10,000 pool for its Pick 4 wager and will add a Superfecta on the Adios final.
Here is a look at the Adios field, in post position order, with drivers and Roger Huston’s morning line odds (all horses go as separate wagering interests):
1. Custard The Dragon - Montrell Teague - 2-1
2. Real Special - Yannick Gingras - 8-1
3. Alsace Hanover - Ron Pierce - 3-1
4. Powerful Mist - Dave Palone - 4-1
5. Rollwithitharry - Tim Tetrick - 6-1
6. Wind Me Up - David Miller - 12-1
7. Eighteen - Corey Callahan - 20-1
8. Hugadragon - Andy Miller - 20-1
9. Odysseus Bluechip - Brett Miller - 12-1
(With files from The Meadows & HRC)
Congradulations Montrel and
Congradulations Montrel and Custard The Dragon and all connections on your great mile.