TALL DARK STRANGER REFUSES TO LOSE IN MEADOWLANDS PACE
-- by James Witherite, for Meadowlands Media Relations
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Neither first-over pressure from Papi Rob Hanover nor nearly a length deficit in upper stretch could deter a resurgent Tall Dark Stranger ($3.00), who gave his all to reclaim the lead in the final yards of the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace on Saturday night (July 18) at The Meadowlands.
 
The 3-year-old son of Bettor's Delight and Precocious Beauty advanced gradually off the first turn, cleared for the lead with five-eighths to go, and he controlled a :53.2 half while in line to Yannick Gingras. On the far turn, Tall Dark Stranger faced a stout challenge from the uncovered Papi Rob Hanover, and the pair threw down nearing three-quarters in 1:20.4.
 
Papi Rob Hanover wrested command away from Tall Dark Stranger off the home turn, and while Allywag Hanover loomed a major late threat off second-over cover, Tall Dark Stranger proved toughest of all and battled valiantly to prevail by a neck in 1:47.2. Papi Rob Hanover finished second, and Allywag Hanover stayed on for third.
 
Nancy Takter trains Tall Dark Stranger, an 11-time winner in 12 career starts, for Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. The Pace win pushed Tall Dark Stranger's earnings over the $1 million plateau.
 
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MEADOWLANDS PACE NIGHT BETTING TOPS $5 MILLION
-- MEADOWLANDS RECAP FOR SATURDAY, JULY 18, 2020 | Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – The wagering on Meadowlands Pace Night Saturday at The Meadowlands got off to a fast start and just kept on rolling all night long.
When all the money was counted, a total of $5,051,261 was wagered on the 13-race program, by far the most in the industry this year and most on a Pace Night card since 2008, when betting was $5,371,055. This year’s total represented an increase of 25 percent over 2019 when total action was $4,044,303.
The play on Saturday was hot and heavy from the start, as $419,581 was wagered in the first race, which included $130,539 in the 20-cent Pick-5 pool, a 2020 Big M best.
The track offered a $100,000 guaranteed pool on the Early 50-cent Pick-4 in Race 6, and wagering blew past that number, as another seasonal best – $191,288 – was poured into the pot.
The 11th race offered a mandatory payout on the 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five, and $133,578 in “new money” was added to the carryover of $65,089 to create a total pool of $198,667. Those who held tickets bearing the winning combination of 4-2-11-3-1 cashed in for $3,765.32.
Not surprisingly, the Meadowlands Pace took the most action of any single race on the card, with a total of $645,423 bet, the largest total since the 2013 Pace, when $662,159 was pushed through the windows.
A LITTLE MORE: When it came to the driver’s colony on Pace Night, all 13 races were won by some of the very best in the game. Dexter Dunn and Andy McCarthy won three races apiece, followed by Yannick Gingras and Brian Sears, who each scored twice. The remaining races were taken by Tim Tetrick, Scott Zeron and Dave Miller. … Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.
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COUNTDOWN TO THE PACE IS ON AT BIG M
--JULY 16, 2020 | Meadowlands Media Relations
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – The “Biggest Night in Harness Racing” takes place Saturday (July 18) at the track known as the Big M. And for bettors, Meadowlands Pace Night 2020 is now even bigger.
The action and stakes racing will be excessive Saturday at North America’s top venue, with the marquee event – The Meadowlands Pace, a 3-year-old open for a purse of $636,650 – scheduled as Race 9, with a post time of 9:55 p.m.
“Every year, Meadowlands Pace Night sports one of the truly special race cards of the year,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “The 13-race program has many stakes events, and the wagering opportunities are numerous. On Saturday, we will be offering a mandatory payout on our 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five, so the total pool should be huge.”
This Friday night’s Early 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five will not be offered so that Saturday’s can start out with a carryover of $65,089 in the 11th race. “It is our hope that our players will go after the Saturday Super High-Five in a big way,” said Settlemoir. “Hopefully, we can get $200,000 into that pool and get one – or several – players a nice score.”
Saturday’s wagering menu will be expanded. Here is a look at what – and when – players will be playing the track’s popular puzzles, all of which offer a low 15 percent takeout:
·         20-cent Pick-5 (Races 1-5, $50,000 guaranteed pool)
·         50-cent All Stakes Pick-4 (Races 6-9, $100,000 guarantee)
·         20-cent Pick-6 (Races 8-13)
·         20-cent Pick-5 (Races 9-13)
·         50-cent Pick-4 (Races 10-13)
·         20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five (Race 11, $65,089 carryover, mandatory payout, estimated pool $200,000)
The Big M has good momentum heading into this weekend’s racing, with $3,440,248 having been wagered last Saturday, the high at the mile oval this year for a 13-race card, on which the track set a per-race average best of $264,634.
Despite the absence of the Early 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five on Friday, fans of the wager will still have a big opportunity in the 13th race, as that JSH5 will start out with a carryover of $80,368. Friday’s program begins at the usual 7:15 p.m.
STAKES-STACKED CARD: Saturday’s Meadowlands Pace Night program gets underway a little earlier than usual, with a first-race post time of 6:30 p.m.
In addition to The Pace, the card also offers the $40,000 Miss Versatility (featuring Manchego), $253,500 Del Miller Memorial (Hypnotic AM), $284,500 Stanley Dancer Memorial-two divisions (Amigo Volo and Beads), $194,400 Mistletoe Shalee (JK First Lady), $391,300 William Haughton Memorial (Dancin Lou), $464,900 Hambletonian Maturity (Gimpanzee), $172,850 Dorothy Haughton (Shartin N) and $123,100 William Haughton Memorial Consolation (Sintra).
OWNERS BACK IN THE WC: For the first time since before the coronavirus shutdown in early March, owners will be welcome back in the winner’s circle on Saturday night, with masks and social distancing strictly enforced.
PACE CARD LIVE ON FACEBOOK: The entire Meadowlands Pace card can be seen live on the Meadowlands’ Facebook page.
The races can also be seen on the Roberts Television Network (rtn.tv) or on the Television Games Network (TVG). To bet the races go to 4njbets.comtvg.com or your favorite ADW (advance-deposit wagering) platform.
“We are looking forward to an international viewing audience on TVG on Pace Night,” said Settlemoir. “But we also look forward to seeing our fans at the track as well.”
For those who want to come out to the races, grandstand capacity is 25 percent with more patrons allowed outside on the apron. Theweatherchannel.com is forecasting fabulous conditions for Saturday night, with temperatures in the mid-70s, a few clouds and light winds.
ASHLEY RETURNS: The Meadowlands’ Dave Brower, Dave Little, Ken Warkentin and Jessica Otten will be joined for a second straight weekend by Ashley Mailloux, the paddock analyst and handicapper at Ft. Erie Racetrack, who will be on hand to bolster the Big M’s TV presence.
Mailloux also contributes – and freelances – for Post Time with Mike and Mike, America’s Best Racing, the Maryland Jockey Club and the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN).
Otten spent the early part of the week out at the farms of some of The Pace contenders, and her reports will be shown throughout the weekend.
On Friday, Mailloux will sit beside Brower and serve as co-host of the live simulcast presentation at 6:45 p.m. Saturday’s show will have Brower and Little on set, with an earlier-than-usual start time of 5:45 p.m. Otten and Mailloux will have features and interviews all weekend long, and, of course, Warkentin, the voice of The Big M, will call all 26 races.
Due to the cancellation of racing at Del Mar, Meadowlands management is anticipating more coverage on TVG’s live presentation of the races. Little will be on TVG duty Friday, and Mike Bozich, the track announcer at Harrah’s Philadelphia, will take the microphone Saturday.
FREE STUFF: For free past performances, go to playmeadowlands.com. Friday night, the Late 50-cent Pick-4 and Late 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five (races 10-13) will be available.
On Saturday, bettors can access the entire Meadowlands Pace Night card.
CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Dave Brower’s selections and commentary. Go to the “handicapping” drop down and then go to “race reviews”.
Additionally, track announcer Ken Warkentin’s blog is available on the site and offers his picks and analysis.
TWEET THE TEAM: Stay in touch on Twitter with the Big M’s Brower (@eedoogie), Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Warkentin (@kenvoiceover), Otten (@JessicaOtten1) and Mailloux (@ashley_mailloux). Check in everyday for Meadowlands news and updates at those handles, as well as @TheMeadowlands, #playbigm and #paceyourself20.
FOLLOW THE FAVORITES: Want to know what the trainer and driver of Meadowlands Pace 7-5 morning-line favorite Tall Dark Stranger are saying? Follow trainer Nancy Takter (@NancyTakter) and driver Yannick Gingras (@Gingras3) on Twitter.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: Check the following harness racing outlets on the internet for everything Meadowlands Pace, before and after the race: playmeadowlands.comustrotting.comdrf.com/harness/harnessracing.comstandardbredcanada.caharnessracingupdate.com and harnesslink.com.
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TALL DARK STRANGER IMPRESSES IN BIG M PACE ELIM
--Saturday, July 11 Recap | Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – The target for next week’s $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds is clearly on Tall Dark Stranger’s back. And his trainer, Nancy Takter, seems to be just fine with that.
Tall Dark Stranger took over the lead just after the quarter and rolled down the road from there in the lone Meadowlands Pace Elimination at The Meadowlands Saturday night, establishing himself as the clear-cut one-to-beat in the track’s signature event next week (July 18).
“He’s a great colt,” said Takter. “He’s been great since Day One. He performs every time I put him out on the track.”
Hard to dispute given his lifetime record of 10 wins from 11 starts.
Major Betts left the gate quickly from post one, as did Tall Dark Stranger from the three. Major Betts went the quarter in :26.1 before TDS took over and hit the half in :54.4. Capt Midnight – who finished ninth and failed to qualify for the final – came calling first-over to apply token pressure at three-quarters in 1:22.1.
Then Tall Dark Stranger got serious.
Off the far turn, driver Yannick Gingras asked the son of Bettor’s Delight-Precocious Beauty for more speed, and he provided just that, extending his advantage to two lengths at the head of the lane.
In deep stretch, 23-1 shot Captain Kirk was closing well after going an inside trip to get second while 4-1 second choice Papi Rob Hanover, who again had to come from well off the pace after drawing poorly (post 10), grabbed third.
Tall Dark Stranger won it by a half-length after stopping the clock in 1:48.1. After earning half of the $50,000 purse, his lifetime bank account stood at $751,889 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor. He returned $2.80 to his backers as the 2-5 favorite.
By winning the elim, TDS earned the right to draw a post position from one through six. He got the five for the big-money final in the draw conducted shortly after the race.
“Post five is a great place,” said Takter. “It gives Yannick a lot of options. That’s his job. I was super happy with my horse tonight.”
The top eight in official order of finish made the final, with two horses – Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate – earning byes based on seasonal earnings. Mocha On The Rocks finished 10th and last in the elim.
MEADOWLANDS PACE FIELD
The field for the $631,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old open pacers, which takes place at The Meadowlands on July 18 and has a post time of 10:05 p.m., with post position, horse (driver, trainer) and morning-line odds:
1. Roll With JR (Corey Callahan, Jeff Cullipher), 20-1
2. Catch The Fire (Mike Wilder, John Ackley), 10-1
3. Captain Barbossa (Brian Sears, Tony Alagna), 10-1
4. Allywag Hanover (Tim Tetrick, Brett Pelling), 5-1
5. Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter), 7-5
6. Manticore (Jordan Stratton, Bruce Saunders), 15-1
7. Chief Mate (Andy McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 20-1
8. Major Betts (Dexter Dunn, Mark Harder), 10-1
9. Papi Rob Hanover (David Miller, Brett Pelling), 4-1
10. Captain Kirk (Joe Bongiorno, Tony Alagna), 15-1
HUGE HANDLE: With two of the races on the card serving as the catalyst with over $350,000 in action, total wagering was $3,440,248, a 2020 Meadowlands best for a 13-race program.
When total handle reached $4,100,386 on June 20, the per race average for the 18-race program was $227,799. On Saturday, the average per race was a season-high $264,634.
The night got off to a fast start, as $368,907 in bets were taken on the first race, $98,457 of which was bet in the 20-cent Pick-5 pool, another Big M best.
A LITTLE MORE: Gingras led the driver’s colony with four winners on the card. … The 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five carryovers continued to swell. This Friday, when racing resumes at 7:15 p.m., JSH5 players will shoot for big green, as the fifth race carryover stands at $65,089, and the 13th race will start out with $80,368 in the hat. … On Saturday, July 18, Meadowlands Pace Night, post time will be 6:30 p.m.
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PHOTO: Tall Dark Stranger and driver Yannick Gingras win The Meadowlands Pace Elimination at The Meadowlands Saturday night. (Credit: Lisa Photo)

UPDATED MEADOWLANDS PACE FIELD
--JULY 14, 2020 | Meadowlands Media Relations
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – With Chief Mate an early scratch, there were some adjustments made to not only the entries, but also the morning-line odds for The Meadowlands Pace:
The field for the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old open pacers, which takes place at The Meadowlands on July 18 and has a post time of 10:05 p.m., with post position, horse (driver, trainer) and morning-line odds:
1. Roll With JR (Corey Callahan, Jeff Cullipher), 20-1
2. Catch The Fire (Mike Wilder, John Ackley), 12-1
3. Captain Barbossa (Brian Sears, Tony Alagna), 10-1
4. Allywag Hanover (Tim Tetrick, Brett Pelling), 9-2
5. Tall Dark Stranger (Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter), 7-5
6. Manticore (Jordan Stratton, Bruce Saunders), 15-1
7. Capt Midnight (Andy McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 15-1
8. Major Betts (Dexter Dunn, Mark Harder), 12-1
9. Papi Rob Hanover (David Miller, Brett Pelling), 4-1
10. Captain Kirk (Joe Bongiorno, Tony Alagna), 15-1
NOTE: Chief Mate was an early scratch, also eligible Capt Midnight draws in.
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Roll With JR, Major Betts try to punch their tickets into Meadowlands Pace
--July 9, 2020, by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
Hightstown, NJ — They might not be standard for a pacer, but Jeff Cullipher has a good idea what his 3-year-old Roll With JR will need to wear in Saturday’s (July 11) lone Meadowlands Pace elimination.
“I hope he can put his big-boy pants on,” Cullipher said with a laugh.
Roll With JR was among a dozen 3-year-old male pacers entered in the Meadowlands Pace. Two horses, Allywag Hanover and Chief Mate, advanced to the final courtesy of byes based on seasonal earnings. The top-eight finishers in Saturday’s $50,000 elimination at The Meadowlands Racetrack will join them in the $631,650 final July 18.
The elimination field includes returning Dan Patch Award-winner Tall Dark Stranger, who in his only start this year defeated older horses in 1:47.4 at the Big M. The time is tied for the fastest mile of the season. Also in the field is last season’s richest 2-year-old male pacer, Papi Rob Hanover, who finished second to multiple Grand Circuit winner Capt Midnight in their only start of 2020.
Roll With JR, who finished second to Meadowlands Pace hopeful Catch The Fire in last year’s Kentucky Sire Stakes championship, will be making his first trip to The Meadowlands since finishing third in a 2-year-old qualifying race there on June 22, 2019. He heads to the elimination off a 1:51.2 win in his seasonal debut at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. For his career, the colt has won four of 12 races and $176,516. His wins last year included a division of the Bluegrass Stakes.
“He was such a green horse (last year) I never felt like he reached his full potential,” the Indiana-based Cullipher said. “But he went a couple decent miles and showed that he can. He kind of grew into himself over the winter; he’s developed and is kind of a nice-sized colt.
“He’s still the kind of colt that’s only going to do what he’s made to do. I know I don’t have a (1):48 mile in him yet, I don’t even know if he could do it. I’d like to think he could step it up with the better horses.”
Cullipher owns Roll With JR, a son of Roll With Joe out of No One Is Alone, with Pollack Racing. Cullipher and Tom Pollack have been increasing their presence on the Grand Circuit in recent years.
“It’s exciting,” Cullipher said. “Me and Tom are starting to step into these races a little bit. We’re just having fun right now.
“This might be a one-shot deal, I don’t know, but so far I’m happy.”
Another horse making his first trip of the season to The Meadowlands for the elimination is Major Betts. The Mark Harder-trained colt prepped with qualifiers at Gaitway Farm and Harrah’s Philadelphia before winning his only 2020 start in the New York Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs on June 28.
Major Betts defeated favorite Splash Brother by three lengths in 1:49.4, the fastest mile of the young season by a 3-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track.
“I trained him Tuesday morning and I thought he was super,” Harder said. “I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Harder had an opportunity to accept one of the two byes for the Meadowlands Pace but decided against it.
“I couldn’t be off three weeks going into the final, that would not make sense at all,” Harder said. “He needs the work.”
Major Betts, a son of Art Major out of Southwind Johanne, has won five of 12 lifetime starts and $153,390 for owners Harder, Joseph Jannuzzelli, and Deena Rachel Frost. His wins last year included divisions of the International Stallion Stakes and Tompkins-Geers.
“He was just always fast, he was just beautifully gaited,” said Harder, who won the 2004 Meadowlands Pace with Holborn Hanover. “He was a colt that had one of those gaits that he just didn’t work at it. He did everything pretty easy.
“A couple of times last year he did some silly colt things. This year, he acts more professional. He drives like an old horse. It’s probably a little bit of rigging, a little bit of growing up, a little bit of everything. Hopefully it’s a bit of good management. It might just be good luck.”
Harder wouldn’t turn down any good luck in the upcoming weeks.
“A lot of (the 3-year-olds) are very impressive,” Harder said. “Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover are very good, Allywag Hanover has been very impressive. They’ve been racing at The Meadowlands and times there have been crazy.
“We beat a horse that looked pretty impressive, Splash Brother. It’s a completely different class, but it shows we’re there and we’re competitive. Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover are the two standouts for sure, but there are a lot of really, really good horses. Nothing is easy.”
Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at The Meadowlands. The 13-race card also includes $250,000 Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old pacers and trotters and divisions of the Reynolds Memorial for 3-year-old trotters. For Saturday’s complete Meadowlands entries, click here.
MEADOWLANDS PACE ELIMINATION FIELD
(EDITORS--For those of you interested, here is the Meadowlands Pace Elimination field for Saturday night at the Meadowlands, with morning-line odds.
Thanks--Dave Little)

The field for Saturday night’s Meadowlands Pace Elimination in post-position order, with horse (driver) and morning-line odds: Major Betts (D. Dunn), 9-2; Captain Barbossa (A. McCarthy), 5-1; Tall Dark Stranger (Y. Gingras), 3-1; Manticore (J. Stratton), 15-1; Captain Kirk (D. Dunn), 10-1; Roll With Jr (T. Tetrick), 10-1; Mocha On The Rocks (S. Zeron), 20-1; Catch The Fire (W. Wilder), 15-1; Capt Midnight (A. McCarthy), 8-1; Papi Rob Hanover (D. Miller), 7-2.

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MEADOWLANDS RELEASE FOR TUESDAY, JULY 7, 2020
(PACE ELIMINATION AND GRADUATE POST DRAWS)
ONE DOZEN DROP IN FOR MEADOWLANDS PACE
Meadowlands Media Relations
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – With a limited number of 12 horses having dropped into the entry box, there will only be one Meadowlands Pace Elimination necessary on this Saturday (July 11) night’s program at the Big M. Post time is 7:15 p.m.
Two horses – Chief Mate and Allywag Hanover – took byes and will automatically go in the July 18 big-money final for 3-year-old open pacers.
Conditions call for those with the highest earnings this season getting the option to skip the elim. Trainer Mark Harder wanted Major Betts to race, so he’s in this Saturday. As a result, Chief Mate and Allywag Hanover, who were next in line in 2020 earnings, took a free pass to the final.
The elimination has a field of 10, with the first eight in official order of finish advancing to the $631,650 final. The elimination winner will get a major perk: That horse will draw a post position from one through six.
Tall Dark Stranger has drawn post three in the elim. The Nancy Takter trainee’s only start this year resulted in a national season’s-best equaling mile of 1:47.4. The Brett Pelling-schooled Papi Rob Hanover, second in his 2020 debut a week ago after a tough trip from post 10, once again was luckless at the pill drop, having drawn the 10 hole for a second straight start.
The field for Saturday night’s Meadowlands Pace Elimination in post position order, with horse (and driver): Major Betts (D. Dunn), Captain Barbossa (A. McCarthy), Tall Dark Stranger (Y. Gingras), Manticore (J. Stratton), Captain Kirk (D. Dunn), Roll With Jr (T. Tetrick), Mocha On The Rocks (S. Zeron), Catch The Fire (W. Wilder), Capt Midnight (A. McCarthy), Papi Rob Hanover (D. Miller).
Also on Saturday’s program are a pair of $250,000 Graduate Finals. The open events for 4-year-olds – one for pacers and one on the trot – both have full fields of 10.
The trot has double Breeders Crown and New York Sire Stakes champion Gimpanzee as the one with the target on his back. He’s been ultra-impressive in winning both of his starts this year – each of which were Graduate preliminaries – by scoring once on the front end and once from well off the pace.
The field for the Graduate Final for trotters in post position order, with horse (and driver): Chin Chin Hall (D. Dunn), Kings County (D. Miller), Gimpanzee (B. Sears), Winnerup (T. Smedshammer), Explosivebreakaway (T. Tetrick), Southwind Avenger (A. McCarthy), Goes Down Smooth (No Driver), Pure Chance (No Driver), Grand Swan (T. Tetrick), Reign Of Honor (D. Miller).
Bettor’s Wish was the top money-earning horse in harness racing a year ago with over $1.6 million in the bank, and despite drawing post 10, will likely be the post-time favorite in the Graduate for pacers off his 1:48.2 off-the-pace win a week ago at the Meadowlands in the series’ final leg.
The field for the Graduate Final for pacers in post-position order, with horse (and driver): Century Farroh (D. Miller), Shamwow (J. Stratton), Workin Ona Mystery (T. Tetrick), Dancin Lou (B. Sears), Hurrikane Emperor (M. MacDonald), Aflame Hanover (D. Miller), Captain Victorious (Y. Gingras), Brassy Hanover (S. Zeron), Bllack Hole (T. Tetrick), Bettor’s Wish (D. Dunn).
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