by Frank Carulli
August 3, 2020
With a world record-breaker out of the picture, CT Stable’s Catch The Fire stepped up to have his taken in the $375,000 Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids last Saturday at the Meadows.
The complexion of the track’s signature event changed dramatically when Papi Rob Hanover, a smashing 1:47.2 winner in the Adios eliminations the week prior, suffered a season-ending injury and was scratched from the final for 3-year-old pacers.
Catch The Fire seized the moment with a front-end victory for locally-based driver Mike Wilder. The 2-to-1 favorite brushed past early leader Elver Hanover (Chris Page) a quarter mile into the race, repelled a backside bid by No Lou Zing (Josert Fonseca) and held off a late rush by 50-1 longshot Chief Mate (Scott Zeron) to win the 54th Adios by a head in 1:49.3, an identical time to his qualifying race.
“I was really worried about (No Lou Zing),” said Wilder. “He went a humongous trip in the elimination. He showed he can take a lot of air. I couldn’t shake him, and then a whole herd of them came at me. But my horse dug in. He’s true grit.”
Catch The Fire paid $6.80 to win and the exacta returned $255, but the victory was priceless for Wilder, a winner of more than 8,300 races in his career, and trainer John Ackley, who operates a small stable at Ohio’s Fayette County Fairgrounds.
“This means the world to me,” Wilder said of his first Adios win.
“It’s a big win, to have a horse that can compete at this level and win,” Ackley said. “No way I could have imagined this. It’s fantastic.”
RAMONA HILL, READY FOR MONI WIN HAMBO ELIMS
Ramona Hill rallied from last. Ready For Moni led most of the way. Something has to give when the Hambletonian elimination winners clash in the $1 million trotting classic final this Saturday at the Meadowlands.
Ramona Hill, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly trotter, rallied 3-wide on the final turn for driver Andrew McCarthy and covered the final quarter-mile in :25.4 to beat Back Of The Neck by a half-length in 1:51.2 and earn 5-2 morning-line favoritism in the 10-horse Hambletonian field.
“She’s been great,” said winning trainer Tony Alagna. “She was a very immature 2-year-old and she was still able to get the job done. … Her first start (this year), she raced super off the pace and two weeks ago she was sparkling and tonight she’s even better.”
Ready For Moni (Yannick Gingras) led through the final half mile in his 1:51.3 elimination victory. The 6-to-5 favorite was coming off a win in the Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Big M. Ready For Moni won by 3/4s of a length over Threefiftytwo (Scott Zeron), who will try to give trainer Luc Blais back-to-back Hambletonian wins after Forbidden Trade upset the field last year.
“The way the schedule has been this year, it’s been a little difficult to find races,” said Ready For Moni trainer Nancy Takter. “We didn’t want to have him over-raced going into the Hambletonian, so he had a couple nice qualifiers to kind of let him get into his own and hopefully he’ll take this race in the right way and be even sharper for next week.”
The 95th running of the Hambletonian, with a scheduled 4:35 p.m. post time, will line up this way: Ready For Moni (Yannick Gingras, 3-1), Back Of The Neck (Scott Zeron, 4-1), Hollywood Story (Tim Tetrick, 15-1), Big Oil (Andy Miller, 15-1), Ramona Hill (Andrew McCarthy, 5-2), Threefiftytwo (Scott Zeron, 6-1), Capricornus (Tim Tetrick, 15-1), Rome Pays Off (Mattias Melander, 15-1), Sister Sledge (Brian Sears, 12-1) and Amigo Volo (Dexter Dunn, 12-1).