EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. >> Brian Sears appears on the ballot for harness racing's Hall of Fame for the first time later this summer.
Sears could burnish his credentials with another victory tonight in the $732,050 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds when he drives Control The Moment.
Sears won the Meadowlands Racetrack's signature event with Rocknroll Hanover in 2005.
It was one of the career highlights for Sears, a third-generation horseman, who has won over $172 million to rank fifth all time. Sears, 48, is closing in on 10,000 wins.
He was the only candidate approved by the Hall of Fame screening committee earlier this month at Goshen, N.Y.
Previous Hall of Fame inductees and members of the United States Harness Writer's Association will consider Sears' candidacy in August. He needs 75 percent of the votes cast for induction.
"No doubt, it is a big honor," Sears said.
Until then, Sears is focused on more immediate goals — starting with the Pace.
Control The Moment, the 5-2 second choice, captured the Pace elimination last week with a lifetime-best 1:49 2/5 mile. It was a welcome return to form for the colt voted best juvenile pacer in Canada last season.
And for the first time, Sears was in the sulky.
"He had been in a number of tough situations with a lot of pressure put on the horse due to the fact he was such a great colt coming back as a 3-year-old," Sears said. "There were a lot of expectations."
It was an impressive win, with Control The Moment rocketing past rivals in deep stretch to log his 10th victory in 15 starts.
"I was really pleased with the effort," Sears said. "It was a nice trip. Those horses were coming back to me a little bit. My horse hadn't been used."
Control The Moment starts from post 3.
Racing Hill, the 9-5 favorite, starts alongside in post 4. The winner of the Hempt Stakes at Pocono Downs received a bye into the Pace final.
Speed is Racing Hill's best asset, setting up what could be a lively battle for the early lead.
"With my spot, I'm obviously in a position where we have to go forward," Sears said. "I have to be aggressive myself and make decisions from there. I'm sure there will be a few of them leaving out of there."
The biggest supporting event on the Pace night card is the $471,800 William Haughton Memorial for older pacers featuring the big three in the division: Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete and Wiggle It Jiggleit, the defending Harness Horse of the Year and the 2015 Meadowlands Pace winner.
The full field for the Meadowlands Pace, in post position order with drivers and odds: Another Daily Copy, Trace Tetrick, 30-1; Good Living, Corey Callahan, 30-1; Control The Moment, Sears, 5-2; Racing Hill, Brett Miller, 9-5; Lyons Snyder, David Miller, 9-2; Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, 6-1; Manhattan Beach, Joe Bongiorno, 20-1; JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, 8-1; Check Six, Matt Kakaley, 15-1 and Talk Show, Scott Zeron, 25-1.