07/13/2012 12:24PM

Meadowlands: Industry insiders give their thoughts on the Pace


DRF enlisted some industry insiders for their views on the $600,000 Meadowlands Pace final on Saturday, July 14 at the Meadowlands Racetrack in Eastrutherford, New Jersey. Oddly enough, only one "expert" selected morning line favorite Sweet Lou, while A Rocknroll Dance and Heston Blue Chip garnered plenty of attention.


Jay Bergman

DRF Harness Eye Columnist

A ROCKNROLL DANCE enters the big dance in the best form. After luckless draws all year he finds controlling position. This race has gone to speed and power horses throughout its illustrious history. Gingras has shown more confidence with him recently and I expect that to be the case here.

HESTON BLUE CHIP impressed big time last week. There is still the question as to whether he is a 1.48 pacer, but position and driver make him a key player.

Though BOLT THE DUER was blocked and allegedly full of pace last week, his effort in the Hempt was clearly his best effort to date. He can leave like a runner and definitely win with a trip.

SWEET LOU’s connections had long faces after he WON an elimination last week. How will they react if they get stuck behind dull cover? Palone may be the winningest driver ever, but he may need more luck than skill if the connections expect to get an off the pace trip that catapults the colt to the winner’s circle.


Dave Brower

Former TV host, oddsmaker and handicapper for the Meadowlands

A ROCKNROLL DANCE might have gotten exactly what he needed from last week’s elimination: a mostly locked-in kind of trip that could have him fresher and fitter for the final. Admittedly, Gingras said in press notes that his colt wasn’t "at his best" in the elim, but I feel the post and plot from the rail make him the perfect upset choice. With most of the speed from the inner half of the field, Gingras can orchestrate the journey he wants and IF he shakes free, watch out late!

SWEET LOU is still the horse to beat, even after his less-than-sterling elimination win, but guess what, folks: he still won! Good horses find ways to win, and the only difference this time will be the gameplan to get him there. Palone wants to race him from off the pace and that will likely happen. But, is he the kind of colt that can grind up first over and beat a field of this quality? We’ll find out....

HESTON BLUE CHIP intrigues me, but also baffles me a little bit. We got to see him at the Med for the first time last week and he delivered a truly gutsy effort, despite being hard on the bit throughout. That will catch up to him eventually, but maybe not yet. I project him as the likely pacesetter here and if he shows up with the same guts as last week, he’ll be a very tough customer to get by. However, he must fend off several solid foes to become a Pace champion.

BOLT THE DUER figures to be overbet, off his obvious bad trip in the elim. No problem, but no value. From post five, it will be hard to get past ‘Heston’ early and it might force MacDonald’s hand into being overaggressive. If Mark gets patient and waits to follow Lou, then I’d be much more interested in investing in his corner.


Greg Gangle

Woodbine Enterainment Group

Thinking Out Loud had traffic trouble in elimination and still paced home in :26-flat. Just like the NA Cup, handicappers will likely get value.

A ROCKNROLL DANCE has been rounding into form lately and draws a favourable post. I’d expect him to be near the front.

SWEET LOU didn’t win me over in his elimination victory, but if he comes from off-the-pace rather than on the front, he’s more of a threat in my opinion.

HESTON BLUE CHIP is undefeated this season and I can’t take anything away from that accomplishment, but this will be his toughest test. He proved last week that he belongs in this category.


Keith Gisser

DRF Harness Eye Columnist

HESTON BLUE CHIP is the unknown. I have no idea how good he is, but he is very good and proved it in his elim. Should also get a great trip.

A ROCKNROLL DANCE was 10 more yards from becoming an elimination winner. Has raced better than his lines show all year. The rail does him no favors, though.

SWEET LOU has not been that strong in the stretch in consecutive starts. Still the one to beat and may well be on the point earlier than usual.

STATE TREASURER gets a mention because I cannot give out the four top morning line favorites (though, Thinking Out Loud will be on my tickets). If they mix it up early (and when has that NOT happened in a Meadowlands Pace?) this is the kind of one-move horse who could surprise with a big late brush.


Dave Little

NY Daily News Writer and Handicapper

HESTON BLUE CHIP showed the world that he’s much more than just a New York Sire Stakes horse with his win in last week’s elim; there’s little doubt that Tim Tetrick will keep this colt close to the action throughout and strike when the time is right.

THINKING OUT LOUD closed in 26 seconds flat to come up just a half-length short of Heston Blue Chip; his explosive closing kick got him to the winner’s circle in the North America Cup and the likely pace scenario could get him another major stakes win.

TIME TO ROLL figures to be in a live cover flow down the backside and could complete the Trifecta.

SWEET LOU wasn’t at his best last week, according to driver Dave Palone, yet still managed to score holding on gamely, obvious contender could still prove to be this division’s best, a Pace win would go a long way toward that.


Matt Rose

DRF Harness Eye Associate Editor

SWEET LOU didn’t blow the doors off the competition in his Meadowlands Pace elimination, but he did what he had to do, digging in late and lasting to the wire. The consensus within the harness community seems to be that the Ron Burke trainee is vulnerable and he won’t be worth the short price. Upon further examination of this race, I don’t see a short price looming here on anybody. The wiseguys out there will be focusing on the tough-trip, locked-in types and that may leave Sweet Lou around 2-1 post time, not a bad price for a sharp horse that was on the top of everybody’s list not too long ago. Wouldn’t a Meadowlands Pace victory cap off a magical couple of weeks for Dave Palone?

THINKING OUT LOUD took some time early stretch shaking free and straightening out, but once he did, the North America Cup winner kicked home nicely. I figure he can fly home if the pace is right.

STATE TREASURER sacrificed uncovered after the early dust settled in his Pace elimination, and he didn’t tire all that badly. He seems capable of rallying for a share at a decent price.

A ROCKNROLL DANCE brushed, released Sweet Lou then was locked in late with willing pace. Yannick figures to be forwardly placed again from this spot.


Bob Pandolfo

DRF Harness Eye Columnist

The Big M Pace is exceptional this year. I actually think that 7 of these colts have a solid chance of winning and the race is so competitive that I would not be surprised if the pace falls apart and a big longshot wins it with a late rally. In recent years, tactical speed has been important in these big stakes races at the Meadowlands, and the drivers are aware of that. Consequently, I’ll be surprised if the pace isn’t very fast. This year the banked turns have helped the closers and the flow somewhat and it will be interesting to see just how competitive the race turns out in the stretch.

THINKING OUT LOUD was my top pick when he won the North American Cup at 8.60-1 and I’m going to stick with him. In last week’s elimination he may have won the race but he had to steady in midstretch to avoid locking wheels. The key is going to be the flow of cover; although in the Cup he didn’t have a great cover trip and won anyway. This colt has the ability to finish fast regardless of the trip or fractions.

HESTON BLUE CHIP proved last week that he’s not just a small track horse. He left in :26 2/5, yielded for the pocket trip, pulled on the final turn and held sway with a :26 3/5 final quarter. He was a bit hard to hold in the pocket, but that can be viewed as a positive or a negative, depending how you look at it. He certainly looked to me like the real deal.

SWEET LOU held on last week and although it was not an impressive performance, the Burke horses usually race big in marquee events, and this colt has already proven that on his best he can go as fast as anyone. Palone may actually be able to work out a cover trip here. I expect Sweet Lou to have the lead at some point in the stretch and if he’s at his best tonight, he could hold on.

BOLT THE DUER had the pocket and was hopelessly blocked in his elimination while appearing to have plenty of pace left. He will most likely go for the early lead again.


Ken Weingartner

Harness Racing Communications

HESTON BLUE CHIP’s connections created his schedule with this race as their primary target. Looks like it could work.

THINKING OUT LOUD had traffic woes in his elim and still almost caught Heston Blue Chip. Should be ready to fire.

SWEET LOU is the best if he is at his best. The question is: Is he?

A ROCKNROLL DANCE will be behind the gate for the seventh week in a row, which could catch up with him, but he seems to be a warrior.


Watch the Meadowlands Pace live