07/23/2014 10:49AM

Meadowlands: Royalty For Life tries to get back on top in Cashman

Lisa Photo
2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life is looking for his first win of the year.

Breaking into an older trotting division that includes the likes of Sebastian K, Market Share and recent Maple Leaf trot winner Intimidate can be a difficult task. On Saturday, 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life continues on his quest to fit in against his elders in the first of two $50,000 eliminations for the $300,650 John Cashman, Jr. Memorial to be raced on Hambletonian Day (August 2).

It has been a rough start to the year for Royalty For Life, who had his early-season training stalled due to surgery to remove a bone chip in his knee. The George Ducharme trainee made his first start of the year in the Hambletonian Maturity, a 14-horse race exclusively for 4-year-olds, but everything went wrong. After leaving for position with regular driver David Miller, the horse in front of him broke and basically wiped Royalty For Life out of the race, resulting in an eighth-place finish.

The son of RC Royalty returned last week (7/18) with a third-place finish behind fellow 4-year-olds Master Of Law and Sweet Justice while stopping the clock in 1:52 3/5.

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“I look at his start the other night (7/18) as his first start of the year,” said Ducharme, discounting the Maturity on July 5 where his horse didn’t get much of an opportunity to race. “He raced okay the other night and I think he’ll get better. Once we get him rolling, he’ll be fine. But racing against Market Share, Sebastian K and Intimidate is a whole different ball game.”

For Royalty For Life, who has never been worse than second at the halfway point in any of his 14 career victories, he’ll need to learn a new style of racing if he wants to add to his win total. Leading from gate to wire against the best trotters in North America on a consistent basis is a near impossible task, especially for a newbie to the older ranks.

Ducharme feels his horse will adapt. “I think he can,” said the trainer about Royalty For Life learning to race from off the pace. “He was always on the lead because he was the best horse in the race and we wanted to put him in the best spot. He has to learn to come from behind to be competitive against this group.”

Should Royalty For Life finish in the top five on Saturday, he’ll have the rare opportunity to pull off a Hambletonian/Cashman (formerly Nat Ray) double. Mack Lobell (1988) was the last to pull off the feat. Fellow elimination entrant Market Share (post 1) failed in his bid last year when he finished fifth in the Cashman final.

Market Share could be the potential favorite come post time. He was a fast-closing third in last week’s $560,790 Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack. Tim Tetrick will once again be the in the bike.

Maple Leaf winner Intimidate (post 4) has displayed flashes of brilliance and a knack for finding the wire first in his 36-race career. With 24 wins and earnings of over $923K, the Breeders Crown winner from 2012 is always a threat.

Trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt will send out Maturity winner Your So Vain from post 2 in the seven-horse elimination. He won that 1 1/8 mile race in his only start of the year and his first in the Svanstedt barn.

Filling out the first Cashman elimination, race 7, are Spider Blue Chip (post 3), Sevruga (post 5) and Archangel (post 6).

Eight horses will vie for five spots in race 11, the second Cashman split. Sebastian K, who narrowly suffered his only defeat of the year last week in six starts, is likely to be the heavy favorite from post 5. He will face Uncle Peter, who returns from an unsuccessful trip to Sweden, a resurgent Sweet Justice and the veteran Arch Madness, who is fresh off a victory at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

The 13-race Meadowlands Saturday card also features a match-up between top older pacers Sweet Lou and Captaintreacherous, an elimination for the Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, and a Hambletonian Oaks prep for nine of the 11 fillies which will compete for $500,000 on August 2.

Post time in 7:15 PM.

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