07/09/2015 1:53PM

Meadowlands: Alagna keeps the faith in Artspeak

Ken Weingartner/USTA Photo
Artspeak is undefeated in five career starts at the Meadowlands.

Although a major stakes win has eluded Artspeak thus far in his 3-year-old campaign, trainer Tony Alagna remains confident in last year’s champion colt as he heads into Saturday’s Meadowlands Pace eliminations.

“I still have a lot of faith in the horse,” said Alagna about the son of Western Ideal-The Art Museum.

Artspeak started the season off right with consecutive New Jersey Sire Stakes wins at the Meadowlands. He came up short in the C$1,000,000 North America Cup at Mohawk while trying to overcome post 10 and raced well for second while no match for Wiggle It Jiggleit in last Saturday’s $500,000 Max Hempt final at Pocono.

While Artspeak won’t have to face Wiggle It Jiggleit in his $50,000 elimination, maybe the answer to making up the 1-1/2 length Hempt deficit is Lasix.

[MEADOWLANDS: Watch the Graduate Trot Final and Meadowlands Pace elimiantions--Live on DRF!]

“We scoped him right after the race and there was some blood,” said Alagna, who described it as a moderate amount. “It was not severe enough that it would hurt him to race back in a week. He trained well [Wednesday] with Lasix added for the first time. We scoped him afterwards and everything looked great.”

In addition to Lasix, perhaps home cooking will help Artspeak reach new heights in 2015. The near-millionaire ($986,260) has never lost at the Meadowlands, sporting a perfect record in five starts.

“He has always shown a liking to the Meadowlands Racetrack,” said Alagna. “The style of racing there fits him better.”

Starting from post four with regular driver Scott Zeron in the bike, Artspeak is the clear horse to beat and was installed as the 4-5 morning line choice in the sixth race on the card. In The Arsenal, fourth in the NA Cup and third in the Hempt, figures to be the main danger. Brian Sears will drive the Kelvin Harrison trainee from post two.

Alagna is not limited to just Artspeak in the pair of eliminations. He’ll also send out Revenge Shark from post six against Artspeak and Trading Up from post one in the second seven-horse knockout race. Co-owned by Alagna, both are coming off confidence-building victories against lesser at the Meadowlands.

“Based on the winning efforts, I had the faith to put them in. Obviously if they had lost versus conditioned horses I wouldn’t have entered,” said Alagna. “Revenge Shark was third with a troubled trip in the NJSS final and was fourth on the bubble to make the NA Cup final. It looked like he was going to be second in the consolation if he didn’t make the break. Trading Up scoped terrible after his NA Cup elim.”

Despite the favorable draw, Trading Up seems up against it versus Hempt winner Wiggle It Jiggleit from post seven and NA Cup victor Wakizashi Hanover from post six in the 11th race. Wiggle It Jiggleit, fresh off a powerful 1:48 2/5 win at Pocono, is the 3-5 early choice while Wakizashi Hanover, fourth in the same race is listed at 9-5.

The race also contains Roland N Rock, a gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover that has never been defeated in 18 career starts, mostly on the fair circuit.

The top five in each elimination return for the $706,800 Meadowlands Pace final on July 18.

While Artspeak represents the present for Alagna, the top trainer will send out a future prospect in the first race on the 14-race program. American Passport, a rookie colt by American Ideal, will make his first career start on Saturday.

“He has a ton of potential,” said Alagna, who paid only $29,000 at Harrisburg for the then yearling. “In his last qualifier (June 27), he raced better than anything I had in that day.” That is high praise considering the conditioner sent out three 2-year-old winners during the 12 baby races that morning. ​

Post time for the Saturday night card is set at 5:30 p.m.