Stakes Hat Trick For Hillexotic

Hillexotic continued to make up for his lost freshman campaign, capturing his third straight race — all stakes — in Monday’s $187,932 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes stop at The Meadows. Gangster Hanover took the other division of the event, known as the Hickory Smoke, for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters.

Winning driver Trond Smedshammer, who trains Hillexotic for Purple Haze Stables, indicated it wasn’t injury or illness that sidelined the son of Muscle Hill-Exotic Destination at two.

“Immature is not the right word, but he was fragile. You couldn’t do much with him,” Smedshammer said. “He just wasn’t ready to be pushed at all. I had him staked to the Hambo, and I thought he could have been that kind of horse, but he caught some kind of bug and wasn’t quite himself. He’s eligible for the Breeders Crown, so we’ll see. He should have some upside.”

He looked anything but dainty in the Hickory Smoke, as he endured a parked-out opening panel and still drew off to triumph by 6-1/4 lengths in 1:53.3 Romanee Blue Chip and DDs Redemption completed the ticket.

Although the final preliminary PASS leg is set for next Monday at The Meadows, Smedshammer said Hillexotic, who pushed his career bankroll to $131,299, might skip that and rest for the $260,000 championship Sept. 5 at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Gangster Hanover also is on the rebound, coming back from what winning trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt described as a lung infection this past winter that delayed his sophomore debut until July 18.

“He wasn’t so sharp his last race, but today he was sharp again,” Svanstedt said. “He’s a very good horse when he’s sound, so I hope he can stay sound now.”

In the Hickory Smoke, the son of Father Patrick-Global Desire looked sound, indeed, reaching the point after a contested opening quarter and scoring in 1:54. EL Ideal was second, 1-3/4 lengths back, with Chestnut Hill third. Gangster Hanover now boasts career earnings of $191,113 for Ake Svanstedt Inc, SRF Stable and Brittany Farms. The Hickory Smoke was something of a showcase for Svanstedt, who conditions five of the 11 sophomores in the field.

Shadrack Hanover, Kyrie Deo, Overserved and Saxon took divisions of Monday’s sub feature, with Matt Kakaley fashioning a stake double behind Shadrack Hanover and Saxon.

With only two career starts under his belt, Shadrack Hanover might have been expected to object when he was parked out for most of the first three-eighths. But Kakaley said the son of Muscle Hill-Shared Past handled the adversity beautifully.

“I drove him last week at Pocono, and he was really good,” Kakaley said. “He has a good attitude for sure. He hasn’t had many starts. I think he’ll keep getting better.”

Ron Burke trains Shadrack Hanover for Elite Trotting.

Chris Shaw and Kakaley each piloted three winners on the 15-race card. Elsewhere on Monday’s program, one lucky bettor took down the Super Hi-5 — correctly picking the five top finishers in exact order — worth $25,892.32

Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the 15-race card features a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Early Pick 4 (race 3) and a $1,408.48 carryover in the Early Pick 5 (race 2). First post is 12:45 p.m.

(Meadows Standardbred Owners Association)