10/17/2009 12:00AM

Etched reaches new high in Meadowlands Cup


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - One career moved to a new level in the Grade 2, while another concluded with a final gallant effort.

Etched dug in to hold off Kiss the Kid by a neck Friday night on a sloppy, sealed track in the biggest event of the Meadowlands season.

The talented but fragile Etched, a 4-year-old colt, improved to an impressive 5 for 6 in his brief career.

Alan Garcia was aboard for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin as Etched ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:45.93, breaking the stakes mark of 1:46 set by K. J.'s Appeal in 1998. He paid $5.40 to win.

The victory, the biggest of his career, could set up Etched for bigger things.

"The way he ran here tonight, I wouldn't be surprised," said assistant trainer Andrew St. Lawrence when asked about the Breeders' Cup. "That's for Kiaran and Darley Stable to decide."

As expected, Great Debater set the pace with Etched right there with him. Great Debater, entered as a rabbit to assist entrymate Anak Nakal, gave Etched a target to focus on.

And Etched was on his game every step. After disposing of Great Debater on the final turn, Etched faced challenges from Cool Coal Man to his inside and Kiss the Kid, launching an outside challenge.

Cool Coal Man could not sustain his bid. Kiss the Kid, however, fought on in his final race before heading off to stud. A multiple graded stakes winner owned and trained by Amy Tarrant, Kiss the Kid made a determined push to go out in a final blaze of glory that fell a neck short.

Anak Nakal rallied for third followed by Racketeer, Cool Coal Man, Good and Lucky, It's a Bird and Great Debater.

Solar Flare was an early scratch, reducing the field to eight.

Bunker Hill gets on the board

The two $60,000 supporting stakes, the Princeton for 3-year-olds and the Thomas Edison for sprinters, both came off the turf.

Bunker Hill got his first win in eight tries this season, beating Dubai Review by 2 1/2 lengths in the Princeton, a four-horse race shortened from the slated 1 3/8 miles on the grass to 1 1/8 miles.

Bunker Hill ran in some ambitious spots like the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park when stablemate Musket Man, third in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, went to the sidelines with a soft tissue injury.

"He's been keeping some really good company," said trainer Derek Ryan. "He was invited to races like the Haskell when I lost my main horse for it. He's neat little horse and he needed a confidence booster and I think he got it tonight."

Joe Bravo was aboard as Bunker Hill was clocked in 1:48.80, paying $3.20 to win.

On the Vineyard ($4.80) got up by a head over Cardashi in the Thomas Edison.

Carlos Marquez Jr. was aboard for owner-trainer-breeder Lynne Scace as On the Vineyard ran the five furlongs in 55.96 and paid $4.80 to win.