Coblentz Wins Five In Sunshine Finals

Sunshine Meadows

The Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (FSBOA) presented the $68,500 finals of the Sunshine State Stakes for two-year-olds and three-year-olds on Saturday, Nov. 18 at Sunshine Meadows with trainer Nick Coblentz repeating his heroics of last week with five trips to the winner's circle.

Wally Hennessey had a driving triple on the eight-race, non-wagering program while Frank Affrunti had a double.

In the $8,000 two-year-old filly trot, Bellarina Jet (sired by Odina Jet) kept her young racing career blemish free, now three-for-three, by winning the Sunshine State Stakes final. She repelled a threat at the top of the long Sunshine Meadows stretch from Ps Just Peachy, driven by Marshall Makin, before going on to an 18-length romp in 2:08. With Wally Hennessey in her sulky for trainer Nick Coblentz and owner Amante Standardbreds, Bellarina Jet used, virtually, the same strategy as in her previous wins with fractions of :33.1 and 1:05.4 before Ps Just Peachy looked the leader in the eye at the third station in 1:37 before making a costly miscue to lose all chance. 

“Maybe the time doesn’t quite match up with some of them but she doesn’t make mistakes and I’m sure the owners would rather have the big share of an $8,000 purse than a sixth or seventh in a 1:58 mile,” said Hennessey after the win.

In the $8,750 two-year-old colt and gelding trot, Okeechobee Jet, once again, completed the unique daily double for driver Hennessey, trainer Coblentz, the sire Odino Jet and the Amante Standardbred stable by using a sharp :29 finale to score a five-length win in 2:03.2. With a bit of “musical chairs” going with lead changes the first half-mile off of fractions of :31 and 1:03, Okeechobee Jet stalked the leading Prairie Friendly, handled by Frank Affrunti, before sailing by that one once straightened away to widen his advantage to the wire. The early leader, Watching The Mets, was third for Tony Dinges while Legacys Casanova and Prairie Possession banked the final two awards.The winner is undefeated as his early career progresses and now shows three straight wins.

In a rousing finish, Dance With Destiny (sired by A Rocknroll Dance), driven by owner Joe Sanzeri, used a :28 kick home to nudge by Sweet Scarlett, handled by Tony Dinges, in the final stride to get the photo finish win in 2:06.4 in the two-year-old filly pace worth $8,250. Prairie Kitten, with Dan Harvey in the sulky, was third in the trio. Sanzeri, leaving from post one, stalked the leader, Sweet Scarlet, through soft panels of :32, 1:06 and 1:38.2 before the speed explosion down the lane to the wire.

Coblentz was the winning trainer—his third straight on the card—and was very proud of both the filly and the driver saying, “Joe [Sanzeri] doesn’t do that much driving anymore but he did what he had to do and had a filly that helped him every stride home. I’m proud of them both!”

Gator Pledthefifth (sired by Well Said), with trainer Mickey McNichol handling the lines for owner George Birkhold in the two-year-old colt and gelding pace worth $8,750, finally broke his maiden after two second-place finishes and romped home by 9-1/2 lengths over arch rival Prairie Gorgeous, driven by Dan Harvey, hitting the wire in 1:59.3. Leaving the gate with alacrity this day from his outside five post, Gator Pledthefifth was on the bit from the start and took command for good from Prairie Gorgeous just after then opening :29 marker. Gliding through subsequent panels of :58.1 and 1:28.1, the issue was put out of reach turning for home as the winning margin kept growing to the wire. Prairie Achiever was third for Hennessey while Prairie Rocknroll and Dont Pet The Gator earned the final two awards.

In the $9,000 sophomore filly trot, Legacys Jailbreak (sired by Dontyouforgetit), whose eight-race career has been exclusively at Sunshine Meadows, made it three-for-three in 2023 and seven-for-eight lifetime with a gate-to-wire score for Dinges, in the bike for owner/trainer Coblentz. Beginning from the coveted one post, Legacys Jailbreak clocked panels of :31 and 1:02.4 for the first half-mile, stole away from the field during a stepped-up :29.1 third quarter and came home in a comfortable :30 to break the final beam in 2:02. Atlantic Wave, handled by Alessandro Spano, was second while Kings Sweetheart, with Kevin Wallis driving, finished third after recovering from a miscue behind the gate leaving. Prairie Ranga finished fourth and JJ Forgetaboutit picked up the nickel in the sestet. 

“She always likes to join the fray from the get-go and, with the inside, today was no different," said Dinges after the win. "When she hears another one coming after her, she just pricks up her ears and fights.”

Seminole Moon (sired by Shibboleth Hanover), knocking at the door in two previous starts at Sunshine Meadows, finally unlocked the door to the winner's circle with a sharp 1:59.1 performance for driver Frank Affrunti in the $8,750 sophomore male trot. The Lisa Martin trainee, owned by Mary Martin along with Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel, picked a fine time to get this first win at Sunshine Meadows in defeating Rhinestone Camo, driven by McNichol, with Prairie Famous next for Dinges. Prairie Nugget and Captain Cam completed the roster here as Seminole Moon vaulted his 2023 earnings to $21,123 with the win—his third lifetime and second this semester in 18 starts.

In the sophomore filly pace worth $8,250, Flo Jo (sired by Keystone Velocity), driven by Hennessey for Coblentz and owner Mr. Dale Witcher II, used a :58.4 final half on the front end coasted home a six-length winner to keep her  2023 record perfect at five-for-five. Hennessey used a strong brush after the opening pedestrian opener in :32, took command and lolly-gagged to the half in 1:04.1 and held the field at bay as the pace quickened thereafter. Twowordsmadein USA, with Rob Hoffman in the sulky, finished second while Prairie Lynx, teamed with Wallis, was another neck back in third completing the roster.

After the race, Hennessey lamented, “Robbie [Hoffman] was trying to give his horses a rated drive and I thought I’d better brush now before he got to a real ‘cheap’ half. After that, we picked up the pace to try and thwart any rallies from the back and it worked out. Flo Jo raced like a true Olympic champ.”

Stakes action concluded with the three-year-old colt and gelding pace worth $8,750. Affrunti gave Flying For Trev (sired by Domethatagain) a perfectly rated drive and wired his competition in a startling 1:56—bettering his previous mark by five and three-fifths seconds. After rating his charge to a half in :59, Flying For Trev, second in his first two tries over this one-mile oval, took matters into his own hooves this time out and never let a foe get within two lengths during the entire route. Trained by Jeff Seekman for Marie Marsh, the winner scored by 2-3/4 lengths over Easy As That, handled by Dinges, interrupting that one’s two race winning skein. Gator Growl was third for Wallis, followed by The Honkytonk and Constant Velocity. The win also gave Affrunti a driving double on the program.

(With files from FSBOA)

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