07/09/2013 9:40AM

Meadowlands Pace: True Metro rematch on Saturday


With all due respect to Meadowlands Pace elimination winner Sunshine Beach, we finally get the matchup most have been waiting for since the first day of September last year. The chance to see Captaintreacherous against a healthy and coming-into-form Odds On Equuleus.

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It was 10 1/2 months ago when Captaintreacherous proved himself to be a neck better than Odds On Equuleus in the $1 million Metro Final at Mohawk Racetrack. The final time (1:49 2/5) was just a couple of ticks from the World Record clocking for 2-year-olds set by Sweet Lou in 2011. The pair failed to meet again as freshman colts and Odds On Equuleus was far from 100 percent in their one encounter at the North America Cup four weeks ago.

In Saturday’s $635,750 Meadowlands Pace final, the moment will arrive.

To date, Captaintreacherous has done everything right. A first crop son of Somebeachsomewhere, who by many accounts was the greatest pacer to ever step on the track, Captaintreacherous has a chance to avenge his father’s only career loss. That lone defeat in 22 starts came by only a neck in the 2008 Meadowlands Pace.

Captaintreacherous has not been flashy, but he has overcome adversity and done what matters most – WIN. His perfect record in five starts says it all. Sure, his winning margins have been ordinary and his finals times run-of-the-mill for the class, but there is no prize for winning by a large margin or posting fast miles.

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The connections of Captaintreacherous think they have a special horse – a great horse – and are managing him as such. There is a planned path that the Captain will set sail on for the remainder of his 2013 campaign. At the end of the voyage, there could be the treasure chest filled with an undefeated season or a lifetime mark in the low 1:47 range which tends to go hand and hand with any current day “great” horse.

Captaintreacherous cannot accomplish an undefeated season on Saturday. But if the weather cooperates, perhaps a fast mile is in store. Perhaps we see something special from the Captain? Or perhaps Odds On Equuleus steps up to the plate for his moment in the sun?

Odds On Equuleus suffered a foot abscess and some sickness in Canada. The needle was clearly pointing down on his season before the Meadowlands Pace elimination. He never saw the pylons while hung out every step of the mile. Regular driver John Campbell expertly rated him on the rim in mid-pack before uncorking a powerful charge in the third quarter. Odds On Equuleus fell a neck short in a career best 1:48 final time, but stamped himself as a horse to be reckoned with once again.

Despite the poor performances, Campbell never lost faith.

“I knew he wasn’t himself,” said Campbell on the horse’s performance in Canada at Mohawk. “If we couldn’t find the reason why, then I would have had some skepticism. I knew what the issues were and so did Robin (Schadt, trainer). It was just a matter of having the time to get over them.

“If you look at the way he paced the last turn in Toronto compared to tonight, there is just no comparison,” Campbell said about Odds On Equuleus’ elimination effort. “His gait was better and he was stronger. He is back to himself.”

The 1:48 mile, which was more than a full second faster than Odds On Equuleus has ever paced, would seem to be more of a starting point for his true potential rather than the finish line.

“There is always an unknown when you are going to the next week, but I’m certainly hoping he can build on it,” said Campbell.” Basically if I can get him to the rail on both turns instead of parked, he’ll go faster,” concluded Campbell with a straight face.

The matchup on Saturday pins two completely different horses against one another.

Captaintreacherous is a hulking specimen while Odds On Equuleus is on the small side, and in fact Equuleus means “little horse” in Latin. Captaintreacherous has yet to lose in 2013 while Odds On Equuleus has yet to win. Captain was a $250,000 Lexington Selected purchase, the first foal from Worldly Treasure. Odds On Equuleus is a homebred, the fourth foal from Latte Lady, but only the second kept and brought to the races by Odds On Racing (Dana Parham and Robin Schadt).

Perhaps the one connection between Captaintreacherous and Odds On Equuleus is the man and woman behind the scenes. Trainers Tony Alagna (Captain) and Robin Schadt (Equuleus) share roots in Illinois. Tony is from Champaign and Robin is from Chicago. They appear to genuinely like each other. Those feelings will be put on hold for two minutes or so on Saturday.

Logic states that Captaintreacherous should win the final. He will be 3-5 or lower while Odds On Equuleus figures to hover around 3-1. But public opinion or past performance programs don’t always tell the entire story.

Will the “little horse” slay the Goliath Captaintreacherous? More likely, Odds On Equuleus and the other eight entrants are going to be victims of the treacherous Captain which roams the standardbred landscape.

Either way, odds are we are in store for a thrilling 37th edition of the Meadowlands Pace.