by Evan Pattak
Hitman Hill and American History each scored in Saturday’s (June 21) eliminations for the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows and will lead the field into next Saturday’s $400,000 final. Also making the nine-horse final field are Done Well, Wes Delight, Summer Travel, Dorsoduro Hanover, Thinkgbig Dreambig, and Babes Dig Me as well as GD Western Joe, who earned a berth as the fifth-place finisher with higher career earnings.
The connections of Hitman Hill and American History will choose their post positions, with the selection order determined by draw, with the other post positions determined by open draw. That draw is set for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and can be seen on Meadows Live!
Hitman Hill was on top past the quarter when his driver, Brett Miller, opted to release the favorite, Dorsuduro Hanover, who had been outside every step.
“Dorsoduro went some kind of mile in his last start in the Meadowlands Pace,” Miller said. “I was happy to follow him.”
At the top of the stretch, Miller, still in the pocket, had another choice to make: outside or Lightning Lane.
“I could have gone either way, but my colt was running out,” he said. “That’s why I chose to go outside. Dorsoduro fought me all the way to the wire. I wasn’t even sure if we got up. I’ve been high on my colt since Day 1. I think he’s as good as any 3-year-old out there.”
Hitman Hill edged Dorsoduro Hanover by a nose in 1:50, with the fast-closing Thinkbig Dreambig third. Chris Oakes trains the American Ideal-Fox Valley Shaker gelding for Tom Hill and Northfork Racing Stable.
American History had been racing hell bent for the front, a strategy that put him on the board in North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace eliminations but got him cooked in the finals of those events. His regular pilot, Yannick Gingras, indicated before Saturday’s race that he might try a more reserved approach. But when an opportunity to quarter-pole to the lead arose, American History and Gingras took it. The son of American Ideal-Perfect Touch opened a 3-1/2-length lead into the final turn and ultimately downed Done Well by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51, with early leader Wes Delight third.
“That definitely wasn’t the plan today, but sometimes you have to play the cards the way they’re dealt,” Gingras said. “That’s the way the race unfolded today—a big difference in fractions from last week. I’m sure that’s part of the reason he held on today.”
Tony Alagna, who conditions American History for Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz and American History Racing, agreed with Gingras’ decision.
“Sometimes you have to call an audible,” Alagna said. “Yannick thought more horses would leave than actually did. He was planning on tripping out, but when he saw the fractions, he decided to take a shot and move to the front.”