In honor of tonight’s lone elimination for the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, here’s a look at some of the greatest moments from past Pace eliminations:
1. Riyadh, in 1993, was the first horse to win his Pace elimination in sub-1:50 when he posted a 1:49.4 victory. That year, all three Pace elimination winners went 1-2-3 in the final. Presidential Ball, Life Sign and then Riyadh
2. John Campbell with Hilarion in 1982 and Mike Lachance with Matts Scooter in 1988 won the Meadowlands Pace final before they ever won a Pace elimination.
3. Miss Easy in 1991 was the last female to test the boys in the eliminations. She made a break and had to settle for the Pace consolations, which she won easily over a horse you might have heard of: Cambest.
4. In 2008, Somebeachsomewhere and Art Official went 1-2 in their elimination — five lengths apart. The final was a different story, with that finish reversed, in a world record 1:47 and only a neck separating them in a race some think is the greatest in Meadowlands history.
5. The last time the great Niatross lost a race was the 1980 Meadowlands Pace elims, when he was fourth. Niatross was parked by Safe Arrival through brutal fractions and just did gain the last spot. Clint Galbraith called this race — a fourth-place finish — the best race Niatross ever went.
6. At Point Blank and Odds On Equuleus were both Meadowlands Pace runnerups in 1997 and 2013. Not bad, considering that neither would win a single heat all season.
7. Matts Scooter finished fourth in his 1988 Meadowlands Pace elim, but bounced back in the final to dominate, the first for Mike Lachance and likely the horse who got his career going full blast. Lachance had only relocated to the Meadowlands full-time a few months earlier.
8. Sixty-five per cent of the Meadowlands Pace elimination-winning favorites do just that— win. That’s about 25 percentage points higher than the final.
9. Brett Pelling won his first Meadowlands Pace as the 6-5 choice in 1995 with Davids Pass (the first of four). But he needed some good fortune. David’s Pass and CA Connection each finished fourth in the same time, so a coin toss decided it. Davids Pass won it and then the Pace. CA Connection lost the coin toss, but won the Pace consolation.
10. The first two years at the Meadowlands for the Pace (1977 and 1978) the elims and the final were the very same night. Escort in 1977 won only the final, while Falcon Almahurst won both in 1978 — over Horse of the Year Abercrombie — in the final.
11. Holborn Hanover was fourth in the 2004 Pace eliminations and nobody gave him much of a chance in the final. But he did win it, at a Meadowlands Pace all-time high ticket of 58-1.
12. Remember that eliminations are just that — eliminations. In 2004, not winning his elimination might have cost trotter Windsongs Legacy, the 2004 Hambletonian winner, the Horse of the Year title (passing on the Breeders Crown didn’t help either). He was 11-for-14 on the year and won all six finals he competed in. His three losses all came in eliminations for those finals.
13. Finally, a quiz… Q. Name the two trainers who can say the following: I won the Hambletonian twice, the Meadowlands Pace twice, the HOY twice and had a Triple Crown winner. A. Blair Burgess and Billy Haughton.