11/27/2013 2:40PM

Meadowlands: TVG Pace to determine the best of the best

Derick Giwner
Driver Tim Tetrick (left) and trainer Tony Alagna will have to hope that Captaintreacherous can overcome post eight in the TVG final on Saturday at The Meadowlands.

One of the greatest moments occurs when a vision of the future becomes reality. As 3-year-old Captaintreacherous steps on the Meadowlands track to face nine older foes on Saturday in the $512,000 TVG Free For All Pace, the harness community will finally have the opportunity to end the stakes year with definitive proof of the best pacer in the sport rather than a winter of dreams about what could have occurred.

Would Somebeachsomewhere have defeated Older Pacer of the Year Mister Big in 2008? Could Muscle Hill have downed 2009 trotting champion Lucky Jim? What about Rock N Roll Heaven’s chances in 2010 against the likes of divisional champion Won The West? We will never know. All three retired after their sophomore campaign and remain great horses regardless. But when you have a good thing, everyone wants to see a bit more. 

[DRF HARNESS: Watch all the best pacers & trotters in the sport on DRF! Live from the Meadowlands on Saturday!]

Captaintreacherous has in a strange way quietly dominated the 3-year-old pacing class. While he is arguably the most publically known horse of 2013, his wins have been far from showy, leading some to doubt his greatness and superiority. The knocks have come in the form of questioning the competition he has faced to the fact that his 13 wins have only been won by a combined 16 3/4 lengths (average win by 1 1/4 lengths). And if you remove his two non Open Company races, his average margin of victory falls to just three-quarters of a length.

At the end of the day and with but one race remaining, Captaintreacherous has managed to earn $2,055,033 on the track in 15 starts this year for trainer Tony Alagna and regular driver Tim Tetrick.

The beauty of the TVG final is that all the questions get answered. The “Captain” will face the upper-echelon on the pacing gait including Foiled Again and Pet Rock. Besting that pair, along with seven other top-flight competitors, will be no easy task for Tetrick.

“It’s going to be a tough task for him since he is a 3-year-old going against older horses, but I think he deserves the chance to be in there,” said Tetrick, who at the same time has plenty of faith in his horse. “I’m very confident. We just have to have a little luck.”

Foiled Again, the richest horse in standardbred history, is a classic example that breeding and size are no match for heart. The somewhat small son of Dragon Again-In A Safe Place, displays constant grit and determination that many of his often faster rivals simply lack. 

At the age of 9, Foiled Again has posted 10 wins in 28 starts and has gone behind the gate more than any of his foes on Saturday. A millionaire five times over, he would break the six million mark in career earnings with a win on Saturday for trainer Ron Burke, who also sends out Sweet Lou and Bettor’s Edge as uncoupled stablemates.

“I’m concerned about Captaintreacherous, but I’m a lot more worried about beating Pet Rock. The road to the winner’s circle goes through Pet Rock,” said Burke. “If Captaintreacherous wins from out there (post eight), he is the greatest 3-year-old ever.”

Pet Rock is somehow the forgotten horse in the equation. While Captaintreacherous and Foiled Again steal the press, Pet Rock has proven to be a classic example of the positives that can develop from racing beyond a 3-year-old season. Thought to be more of a "trip horse" in his second year of racing, the now 4-year-old has vaulted himself into the conversation as one of the better top pacers from the last decade. His pure speed and versatility have resulted in multiple world records and a secure place in history.

His statistics are impressive as well, with $972,820 earned for the year and needing just a fifth-place check or better on Saturday to break the $2 million mark for his career.

While most of the connections from the top trio, including drivers, trainers and owners, are confident in their chances of victory, perhaps Virgil Morgan, Jr., trainer of Pet Rock spoke the boldest words.

“He is sharper than he has ever been. I will be very surprised if this isn’t his best race of the year,” said the veteran conditioner.

To say that everything hangs in the balance of the outcome on Saturday might be an understatement. Captaintreacherous appears to need a victory to have an opportunity of besting the perfect 3-year-old filly trotter Bee A Magician for Horse of the Year. Foiled Again has a narrow lead in the battle for Older Pacer of the Year, but a win by Pet Rock could vault him past Foiled Again in seasonal earnings and into prime position for the award. There are also those that believe a win by Foiled Again, who would increase his 2013 bankroll to $1,404,984, and a poor showing by Captaintreacherous, could make for a tight race in the Pacer of the Year category.

When the starter calls the pacers to the gate for the tenth race on the 13-race Meadowlands program, despite temperatures expecting to be hovering around 30 degrees, the apron should be full of fans. It is a rare event for standardbred athletes with career earnings north of $19.5 million to be on the track at the same time. Combine that unique moment with the best 3-year-old tackling the richest and fastest pacers to wear a bridle.

Billy Joel sings the lyrics, “This is the time to remember because it will not last forever.” Truer words could not be said.

$512,000 TVG Pace Final - Race 10



Electrocutionst More than 1 year ago
I'd also like to see the Captain come from way out of it. This post gives him that chance. He's been battling on the lead in fast fractions all year, so it's not like he can't get the fractions thrown his way. $100 ex box 8-9
Electrocutionst More than 1 year ago
Warrawee Needy has been getting good trips, not winning, but not getting beat by much either. One of these times....
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Yo Derick, The real question is what the other Burke horses are gonna do to make it easy for the house horse Foiled Again. Sweet Lou showed 53 and change pace last week. That 2nd quarter up the new backside will tell a lot about how the race pans out......Pet Rock is the Burke camp's target, not Captaintreacherous......
Derick More than 1 year ago
Blaine - That is more of a handicapping article...lol. I do agree that Sweet Lou will not be hurting Foiled Again.
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Looking forward to your race card/Pk 4 analysis for Saturday's big card....