08/05/2017 3:02PM

Meadowlands: Huntsville holds off R J P to conquer Cane Pace

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Nikki Sherman
Huntsville, R J P (#6) and Downbytheseaside battle through the stretch of the Cane Pace

Huntsville captured the first jewel in pacing's Triple Crown, the Cane Pace, on Saturday afternoon at the Meadowlands, holding off a determined R J P on the wire by a neck in a thrilling finish. A sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere, Huntsville covered the one and one-eighth mile distance in 2:03 as the 3-5 betting choice.

Driver Tim Tetrick left no doubt from the start of the $334,325 Cane that he wanted the front, and he made certain of that, cutting a 25 4/5 first quarter and seating second choice Downbytheseaside in the process while leaving longshot Lawrencetown Beach left dangling without cover.

Tetrick used Lawrencetown Beach effectively as a pick for a good portion of the race and was able to cut reasonably-rated fractions of 54 and 1:21 4/5 before R J P and driver Yannick Gingras rallied wide on the final turn to engage the winner.

R J P and Huntsville battled, with Downbytheseaside and driver Brian Sears hopelessly locked in for the duration of the stretch. The mile in 1:49 made it a 14 second sprint to the wire, and both Tetrick and Huntsville and Gingras and R J P made a race of it, with the Meadowlands Pace-winning Huntsville again surviving by a slim margin for the victory. R J P, a recent addition to the Burke stable, held for second, with Downbytheseaside finishing third.

"He showed how tough he is," said Ray Schnittker, the winning trainer and co-owner.

There will be no Triple Crown winner on the pacing side this year as Schnittker confirmed afterwards that Huntsville is ineligible to the Little Brown Jug.

Huntsville, now a winner in seven of 10 sophomore starts, is owned by Ted Gewertz, Steven Arnold and Crawford Farms Racing, along with Schnittker.