A Rocknroll Dance wins $600,000 Meadowlands Pace
A Rocknroll Dance took the lead on the backstretch and never looked back in posting a 11/2-length victory in the $600,000 Meadowlands Pace on Saturday night.
Driver Yannick Gingras pumped his fist in the air twice about 20 yards before the finish line as A Rocknroll Dancer covered the mile for 3-year-olds in 1:48.1. The son of Rocknroll Hanover paid $11.40, $6 and $4.60 in winning for the third time in eight starts this year.
Pet Rock finished 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner, while Allstar Legend finished third despite starting from the outside No. 10 post position.
Heston Blue Chip., who was trying to make Linda Toscano, the first female trainer to win the track's signature race, was fourth.
Sweet Lou, last year's 2-year-old pacing champion, finished fifth and was followed by Thinking Out Loud, the North America Cup winner.
Heston Blue Chip and Sweet Lou won their respective eliminations last weekend but A Rocknroll Dance gave a hint that he would be a contender in the final closing to finish just a neck behind Sweet Lou.
Gingras, the track's leading driver this year, didn't wait to make a late move this time. After driver Jim Morrill Jr. sent Allstar Legend to the lead at the start, Gingras took advantage of his No. 1 post and moved A Rocknroll Dance to the lead. The pair went the half mile in 54.2 seconds and the three quarters of a mile in 1:21.2. They were never challenged in the stretch.
Gingras did not believe there was a lot of speed in the race, so he went to the front early, much to the concern of trainer Jim Mulinix.
"Jim was not really happy that I was in the front but I set that horse up the last couple of weeks and I knew he had a big mile in him tonight," Gingras said. "I'm very pleased with the way he raced. My horse felt super.'
Gingras also felt the win made amends for his loss in 2004 with favorite Timesareachanging.
"I really believed I had the best horse that day and I didn't drive him," Gingras said. "I was young and made a mistake. Tonight feels twice as good. We learn from each other and tonight was the night. It's definitely the best night I've ever had."
Earlier on the card, Major Look ($22.80) caught heavily favored American Jewel deep in the stretch and posted a three-quarter length victory in the $190,850 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old pacing fillies. The Andy Miller-driven winner was timed in 1:49 3-5 in winning for the fourth time in six starts this year.
Trainer Jimmy Takter put himself in great position to win the Hambletonian in three weeks, winning both divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial.
Favored Uncle Peter, who won last year's Breeders Crown for 2-year-old trotters, won the opening division in 1:53.1 with Ron Pierce driving
Little Brown Fox ($49.60) pulled off a major surprise in the other division, winning by daylight in a stakes record 1:51 2-5 with Yannick Gingras in the bike. Takter also took second in that race, driving Guccio.
The Hambletonian was made even more interesting in the race at the Meadowlands Pace, when Check Me Out ($3) set a world record for 3-year-old filly trotters, stopping the clock in 1:51.3 in winning the Del Miller Memorial Trot. Tim Tetrick had the drive and trainer Ray Schnittker said he was leaning toward racing her in the Hambletonian rather than the Hambletonian Oaks.