EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Stay Hungry and Courtly Choice were the winners of the eliminations for the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace on July 7 at the Meadowlands.
“(The trip) worked out great and he got the job done,” said Doug McNair, who guided Stay Hungry to victory in the first elim. “The trips have not worked out 100 percent for him.”
Until that night, that is.
McNair was content to race Stay Hungry from off the pace, sitting fifth at the quarter before picking up live cover from 37-1 shot Ideal Feeling after the half, where even-money favorite Nutcracker Sweet had the lead in :55.1.
Ideal Feeling continued to make progress on the rim passing three-quarters. After the field straightened away in the stretch, McNair tipped the son of Somebeachsomewhere off his cover, and Stay Hungry did the rest. He cruised to the wire, a three-quarter length winner over the pocket-sitting Hayden Hanover. Thinkbig Dreambig closed well for third, while Nutcracker Sweet and This Is The Plan finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to qualify for the July 14, $701,830 final.
“He’s come back well,” said trainer Tony Alagna of Stay Hungry. “The five-eighths mile racing is really not his forte (he finished fourth at Pocono in the Hempt). Everything came together tonight.”
As the 2-1 second choice, Stay Hungry paid $6.40 to win. He competed the mile in a lifetime-best 1:49.
Two races later, Courtly Choice, supplemented to the event by his connections for $61,690, sat third as 4-5 favorite Jimmy Freight (the other supplemental entrant) cut out fractions of :27, :54.2 and 1:22.2.
David Miller moved Courtly Choice off the rail at the five-eighths and inched closer to the leader around the far turn and still had work to do at the head of the stretch.
But he was up to the task.
Courtly Choice eased past Jimmy Freight in deep stretch and had more than enough to hold off the late rally of the pocket-sitting American History, who finished three-quarters of a length back in second. Jimmy Freight and Dorsoduro Hanover finished in a dead-heat for third while Babes Dig Me claimed the last spot in the final by finishing fifth.
“I actually got away where I expected to,” said Miller. “He felt really strong. I asked him and he paced really hard. He’s got big lungs and can carry his speed.”
“From last year to this year, he’s really matured,” said winning trainer Blake MacIntosh of his prized pupil. “He loves to race now.”
As the 2-1 second choice in the wagering, Courtly Choice returned $6 to his backers. The son of Art Major hit the wire in a lifetime-best 1:48.2.
Meadowlands Pace Day will have an early post time of 6:35 p.m. That morning, at 11 a.m., a new era in Big M history will be ushered in as sports betting will be available.
- No one hit the 50-Cent Pick-5, meaning that for the first time since January, the wager will have a carryover. The last time there was a Pick-5 carryover, the pool total exceeded $250,000.
- The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five failed to result in a single-ticket winner, bloating the carryover to $276,939.
- On July 13, the JSH5 will have a mandatory payout, meaning that to cash, one does not have to hold the only ticket with the winning combination.
- For the second consecutive race card after a nearly two-month drought, the 50-Cent Pick-4 pool went past the $100,000 mark, as a total of $108,123 was poured into the pot
- The 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 was tough, with three early races going to a pair of 16-1 shots and a 26-1 chance. In the end, only one player survived six legs, and he or she cashed in for $12,491.
- All-source wagering on the July 7, 12-race card totaled $2,513,366.
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