EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The stage is set for a glamour division grudge match.

Captain Crunch and Bettor’s Wish — the 1-2 finishers in the North America Cup in  — will go at it again next week in the $682,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace Final for 3-year-olds after both emerged victorious in eliminations for the Big M’s signature event on July 6.

The Nancy Johansson-trained Captain Crunch had little trouble taking the first elim in 1:48.3. The son of Captaintreacherous-Sweet Paprika went after even-money second-choice Workin Ona Mystery as that one made the lead approaching the three-eighths, before 'Crunch' moved to the top shortly thereafter.

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Captain Crunch hit the half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:22.4, and despite Workin Ona Mystery making one last lunge nearing the wire, held on for a safe half-length win. U S Captain, Captain Ahab and Reigning Deo finished third through fifth, respectively, to grab spots in the July 13 final.

“Nancy always keeps her horses fresh, so I wasn’t concerned (that he had been off for three weeks),” said winning driver Scott Zeron. “Once I saw (we went) :27 to the first quarter and everything was going nice and steady, I was comfortable with any kind of fractions. He’s just a different type of animal.”

In winning for the fourth time in five outings in 2019, Captain Crunch returned $3.60 to win as the 4-5 favorite.

Bettor’s Wish was even more impressive, scoring in the other elim in a lifetime-best 1:49.1. He hit the finish 2¼ lengths clear of Best In Show, with Hurrikane Emperor (third), Captain Trevor (fourth) and Escapetothebeach (fifth) grabbing the last three berths in the final.

Bettor’s Wish, who was driven by Dexter Dunn, put a beating on his foes by brushing to command at the three-eighths, hitting the half in :55.3 before pacing his back half in :53.3 to go on to the easy win.

“I think we are in a good spot,” said winning trainer Chris Ryder. “I suppose we won’t be favored next week. But I think we’re dangerous.”

A son of Bettor’s Delight-Lifetime Star, Bettor’s Wish returned $3.00 to his backers as the 1-2 public choice in winning for the fifth time this year in six starts, his only loss coming to Captain Crunch in the NA Cup.

PACE POSTS: Here are the post positions for the $682,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace Final, which takes place Saturday, July 13, at the Meadowlands:

1, Captain Crunch; 2, Escapetothebeach; 3, Captain Ahab; 4, Bettor’s Wish; 5, Hurrikane Emperor; 6, Reigning Deo; 7, Best In Show; 8, U S Captain; 9, Workin Ona Mystery; 10, Captain Trevor.

A LITTLE MORE:

Lather Up (6-1 third choice) sat a perfect pocket trip behind Always A Prince and rolled home to take the $250,000 Graduate Final for 4-year-olds on the pace. His eye-popping time of 1:46 equaled Always B Miki’s all-time fastest mile in harness racing history.

Atlanta (1-5 favorite) stayed perfect in six 2019 starts by taking the $250,000 Graduate Final for 4-year-olds on the trot. Her time of 1:49.1 was the fastest trotting mile in Meadowlands history.

The fifth race 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five resulted in a single-ticket winner. That NJBets mobile player had the only winning ticket with the combination of 7-9-2-11-8 and walked away with $126,155. … All-source wagering on the 11-race card totaled $2,654,612. The per-race average of $241,328 was the fourth highest of the meeting

Racing resumes Friday, July 12 at 7:15 p.m.

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