The 2010 Meadowlands Pace is in the books and it was heartbreak city for Rock N Roll Heaven who did all the work, only to get nipped at the wire by One More Laugh in a time of 1:47.4 over the fast track. In retrospect, Rock N Roll Heaven likely lost the race in the first quarter as he was three wide trying to get the lead in a :25.4 split and then pushed to a :53 half and 1:20 at the three-quarter pole. As for Sportswriter, his race was over in the first turn as he tried to leave only to find two other horses right inside of him to leave with him. At that point, he was parked the rest of the mile and finished seventh. It is quite possible the heat once again hampered him, but then again, they all had to deal with the heat. One thing for certain, the road to 3yo pacing honors is wide open this year.
Perhaps the best part of One More Laugh winning is the ascension of Ray Schnittker to the ranks of trainer extraordinaire (not a bad driver either). Some people probably thought Deweycheatemnhowe was a fluke for Schnittker, but with One More Laugh winning the Meadowlands Pace, any doubtes regarding Ray's ability as a horseman should have disappeared.
There were three divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial last night in addition to the Pace and right now the Hambo looks like a two-horse battle between Holiday Road and Lucky Chucky. Make no mistake, Holiday Road is the horse to beat in the Hambo as he took the lead past the quarter pole and won by half a length in 1:54, but don't discount Chucky yet as he was parked the entire mile (with cover) and still managed to close late to get within half a length to Holiday Road. No, Holiday Road was never seriously threatened as he is reported to have left something in the tank, but when you consider Lucky Chucky missed one start due to illness, it is likely he will improve somewhat before the next matchup. Of course, whether that will be good enough to overcome Holiday Road, remains to be seen. If I had to pick a Hambo pick right now, it would still be Holiday Road.
If looking for 'the interesting' horse for the Hambo, it would be Cassis who lost by a neck in 1:53.1 in the first division of the Dancer Memorial after attempting to wire the field. While Ray Schnittker would have been happier with the victory, considering it was Cassis' first start over the mile track against a better caliber of horse, Schnittker must be pleased. The question is can Schnittker move Cassis up off of last night's race. We will see on July 31 at the Hambo eliminations.
It appears Auckland Reactor is done racing in the United States. According to a report in The Harness Edge, Auckland Reactor's connections have been negotiating to get the Reactor to stand stud down under but they have not been able to seal the deal. Being the Reactor's connections are considering leasing him may indicate the offers for his services have been disappointing and they may be looking to maintain ownership with the hope of him becoming a superstar in the breeding shed so they can cash in latter.
For those who say we can't have more than one tier of horses in a race, I bring for your consideration the Prix du Palais De Chaillot which was held today in France. The race had eighteen starters.
For the record, the race was won by Laughing Stock, a six year old mare in 1:14.5 kilometer rate for the 2850 meters (approx 1 7/10 miles). Notice the race used no starting gate and for those who feel the second tier would still be a disadvantage, note the 16 horse finished second and the 14 horse finished fourth.
There is no reason we can't lengthen our races and add a second tier of horses other than the unwillingness of the industry to change. While I am not suggesting we go to eighteen horses right away or getting rid of the starting gate, there is no reason our racetracks can't add some distance races and additional horses to those races to spice things up. Not just one race; but a number of races over a period of time to gauge the reception it would receive. With win payoffs being typically low, there is no surer way to increase payoffs than by adding additional races.
As if we need another reminder as to how poor things are in New Jersey, here is another story regarding the shaky nature of racing in New Jersey. We should know within two weeks as to what the future holds for racing in New Jersey.