07/01/2015 3:59PM

Meadowlands: Elliott holds the top pair in Graduate final

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Fred Brown
Rockeyed Optimist has won nine races in 11 starts this year.

A quick glance at the past performances for Friday’s $250,000 Graduate final for 4-year-old pacers at the Meadowlands is all it takes to realize that trainer Steve Elliott is holding all of the cards. At the very least, in Rockeyed Optimist and Doo Wop Hanover he holds a pair of aces and the competition is statistically overmatched.

Rockeyed Optimist has been a force from day one in 2015, tallying nine wins from 11 starts and earning $178,525 in the process. He would be perfect through three legs of the Graduate series if not for his stablemate, who simply wore him down in the late stages of the 1-1/8 mile Graduate leg on June 19.

Doo Wop Hanover is seeking the Graduate sweep and his fourth consecutive win. Three starts back in the first leg of the series, he set a track record of 1:47 4/5 at Tioga Downs, ranking him second for the fastest mile of the year.

[MEADOWLANDS: Watch the Graduate Pace Final and entire Friday card--Live on DRF!]

“Rockeyed has been good all year,” said Elliott. “Doo Wop has matured a bit. He has learned how to race and how to be a horse.”

In their last start at the Meadowlands on June 19, both Rockeyed Optimist and Doo Wop Hanover had less than ideal trips and still overcame the adversity. ‘Rockeyed’ was used to make the lead in a sizzling 53 4/5 half-mile clocking and Doo Wop Hanover was parked every step of the mile but just kept chugging along.

“It couldn’t get much worse than last time,” said Elliott about the bad trips. “I’m confident in my horses, but that is all I can control.”

While the uncoupled Elliott entrants are likely to offer odds well south of 2-1 come post time, the possible third choice, All Bets Off, figures to be a strong value play for those that are hoping for an upset. All Bets Off, the Confederation Cup winner at Flamboro Downs earlier this year, seems to do his best work near the front and may revert to those tactics on Friday. He’ll start from post four with Matt Kakaley slated to drive.

If the fact that Rockeyed Optimist and Doo Wop Hanover were the two best horses wasn’t enough, they drew posts one and two, respectively. Regular pilot Tim Tetrick will steer the former while John Campbell is back in the bike behind Doo Wop Hanover in the tenth race on the card.

Once the Graduate final is in the books, Rockeyed Optimist will likely get a short rest while Doo Wop Hanover is likely to test the waters versus older foes in the William Haughton eliminations on July 11 at the same East Rutherford oval.

“Both are eligible to the Dan Patch at Hoosier (August 14), but Doo Wop is also in the TVG series,” said Elliott, who added that after the Dan Patch Rockeyed Optimist might have one or two more starts before turning out for the year.

You are only as good as your next star and Elliott has a good-looking young 2-year-old pacing colt in Boston Red Rocks earlier on the card (race five). The $50,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase flashed good speed from post nine in his pari-mutuel debut on June 20 and paced away from his competition with a 1:54 2/5 winning mile.

“At this stage he is better than Doo Wop was at two,” said Elliott, comparing him to the career $441,327 earner.

John Campbell will drive Boston Red Rocks from post eight in the fourth of six New Jersey Sire Stake races on the 12-race card.