Saturday's card of harness racing at The Red Mile featured some of the sport's biggest and best names and there was action from start to finish
Vintage Master Tough In Tattersalls
In the same style as his victory last week in the Bluegrass, Dan Dube and Vintage Master scored in the first $289,500 division of the Tattersalls Pace in gate-to-wire style.
With Carnivore (Ron Pierce) fastest away off the gate, Vintage Master was asked to work to make the lead and did before reaching the opening station in :27.4. Annieswesterncard (Tim Tetrick) started to move before the :56 half and appeared to threaten the favourite by pulling even with Vintage Master through the 1:24 three-quarter marker as Dube actively kept his horse alive around the final turn.
In the stretch, the first over bid of Annieswesterncard began to fade but Doubleshotascotch (Jim Morrill, Jr.) found room and made a spirited late bid that came up just short as a :27.2 final spilt for Vintage Master was enough to seal the deal by a length in 1:51.2. Clear Vision (David Miller) managed third after a trip mired in traffic.
When trainer Jimmy Takter was worried when his horse looked threatened, he confirmed that it was because "front end speed hasn't held up very good today, but my horse is so comfortable out there."
Takter also confirmed that his millionaire son of Western Ideal - Arts Vintage, owned by Brittany Farms of Versailles, KY and the Brian P. Monieson Revtrust of Northbrook, IL will be back for a four-year-old campaign.
"I think this horse has a future ahead of him on the track. I spoke to George [Segal of Brittany Farms] this week and we've decided to race him next year."
Yes, He Can Dream. Well Said Upset In Tattersalls
Well Said was expected to devour his seven rivals in the second $295,500 division of the Tattersalls Pace on Saturday afternoon at the Red Mile. As the old adage goes, anything can happen in a horse race.
Tim Tetrick had If I Can Dream hustled up to the lead for a :27.1 opening panel. Well Said, bet down to 1-9 by the Kentucky punters, started underway from fifth after Dial Or No Dial (Brian Sears) forced his hand into the outer flow. With a quick sprint, Pierce had Well Said on top just past the :55.1 half, pacing right on past If I Can Dream and looking strong through the 1:22.2 three-quarter station.
With Dial Or No Dial not going away on the outside, Pierce started to ask Well Said for more at the head of the lane. Well Said could not hold off the challengers this week and the race became interesting as If I Can Dream found room up the rail and 59-1 shot Sheer Desire (Dave Palone) was loaded with pace from the back of the field. In deep stretch, If I Can Dream had the most pace and managed to outsprint the backfield, hitting the wire in 1:51 with Dial Or No Dial second, Sheer Desire third and Well Said fourth.
"At the top of the lane, Well Said didn't get away from me like he usually does," said driver Tim Tetrick after the win. "Ronnie's horse was off the rail pretty early and Well Said's a pretty tough animal. I was just trying to follow him as long as I could. We gave Well Said a run for their money in the [Little Brown] Jug and we got the best of them today."
Tracy Brainard trains If I Can Dream (Western Hanover - Arterra) for Bulletproof Enterprises of Boca Raton, Florida. The pacer, who was recently inked to stand stud under the Kentuckiana Farms banner in New York state, now has nine wins in 17 starts this season and over $1.33 million in lifetime earnings.
Tom Cango Captures First Bluegrass
The first major stake event of the Grand Circuit finale at the Red Mile went to Tom Cango and driver Brian Sears, who guided the colt to his third win in 12 tries in the first of three $102,000 divisions of the Bluegrass Stake.
The Chancellor (Andy Miller) was on the front through fractions of :28.3 and :57.2. Russell Hill (John Campbell) came first up to apply pressure and Brian Sears had Tom Cango on his back spotted second over for the 1:27.1 three quarters. At the top of the stretch, Sears tipped off that second cover full of trot and a :28.2 closing panel allowed Tom Cango to hold off Howthehaloareyou (George Brennan) and Airzoom Lindy (Tim Tetrick) for the 1:55.4 score.
"He seems to have come around right at the right spot," said owner Jules Siegel after the win, who indicated that the colt would be headed for the Breeders Crown eliminations next week at Woodbine Racetrack. Trained by Jim Campbell, Tom Cango (Tom Ridge - B Cor Tamgo) has now banked over $465,000 for his connections.
Judge Joe was just announced as scratched lame from his division.
Neighsay Hanover Says Yes In Bluegrass
Even money favourite Neighsay Hanover gave driver Brian Sears his second straight victory in the second division of the $102,000 Bluegrass Series.
With 78-1 Citation Lindy (Ray Schnittker) on top of the field through a :28.4 opener and :57.2 half, Broadway Bistro (George Brennan) made his move from third and cleared easily to the lead with Photoforwin (Rick Beinhauer) pressing through the 1:26.1 third station as the early leader backed through the field.
Sears was situated second over with Neighsay Hanover, tipping the trotter into the three path at the top of the stretch and eventually powering past Broadway Bistro for the 1:55.1 half-length win.
"Up in Canada he got a little 'hikey', it's one of the reasons I've been driving him," said trainer Trond Smedhammer after the win. "That, and Brian's been booked on Muscle Hill.
Smedshammer confirmed that the Breeders Crown is next up for Neighsay Hanover (Muscles Yankee - Nans Conway), who notched his fourth career win for Ted Gewertz and Willow Pond LLC of New York, Leif Alber and Martha Frank of New Jersey.
Explosive Matter Dynamite In Bluegrass
Normally a three-year-old trotter that has put away nearly $1.5 million lifetime in 18 starts is the divisional headliner. Don't fault Explosive Matter for coming along the same year as Muscle Hill and having to play second fiddle. On Saturday afternoon, Explosive Matter showed he's easily the best of the rest as he cruised in the third division of the $102,000 Bluegrass Series for three-year-old colt trotters.
My Back Pages (George Brennan) and Swan For All (Jody Jamieson) were the early bidders for the lead through the :28 opening quarter, with Brennan clearing early and then Jamieson looping Swan For All back around as Ron Pierce had Explosive Matter out and charging hard for command.
Once Pierce cleared, he was not able to relax on the front as P J Clark (Andy Miller) applied immediate pressure to the leader and was right up to his throat for the 1:25.3 third panel. As the field turned for him, Explosive Matter put away that challenge and began to edge clear of the pack. Pierce sat confidently as Explosive Matter was a wrapped-up winner in 1:52.4 by two and a half lengths with Swan For All in second and P J Clark in third.
"We're a clear number two," conceded trainer Noel Daley after the win. "Obviously Muscle Hill is a great horse, and Explosive Matter is a good horse. It's good to win when he's not around."
Daley trains Explosive Matter (Cantab Hall - Fireworks Hanover) for Adam Victor And Son Stable of New York, NY. Explosive Matter has never finished worse than fourth in 18 lifetime starts, with 10 wins, six seconds, one third and one fourth-place finish.
All About Lanson In Allerage Open Trot
Hammered down to 4-5 odds on the toteboard, Lanson and Mike Lachance delivered as expected in the $133,200 Allerage Open Horse Trot.
ABC Mercedes (John Campbell) used rail position to make the lead early and force Claudius Augustus (Dan Shetler) to work for the lead through a :28.1 opener. Lanson made his move from third once the field settled and made the front under little stress before the :56.3 half-mile split. As Gift Kronos (Dan Dube) started to make his move first over, Lachance allowed Lanson to trot and the duo opened up some separation on the field through the 1:25.3 third station. Down the stretch it looked like Lanson was drawing clear but Michaelrowyourboat (Jimmy Smith) got around some road trouble and started a furious stretch bid, a stretch bid that came up just short as Lanson hit the wire one length the best in 1:54.1 with Wind Surfer (Brian Sears) grabbing the show spot.
"He had a good year," said trainer Don Swick, lamenting with announcer Sam McKee that Lanson had to have a career year the same year Lucky Jim was a trotting juggernaut. "Andy [Miller] drives a filly for me and I tease Andy from time to time by saying 'you owe me', but yes, chasing Lucky Jim was quite the task."
Swick trains Lanson (Self Possessed - M Stewart) for Royal Wire Products Inc. of North Royalton, Ohio. The six-year-old gelding is now 7-for-18 on the season with lifetime earnings of over $500,000.
No Doubt For Buck I St Pat In Allerage
On the toteboard she was 1-9 and she showed why. Buck I St Pat and driver Tim Tetrick were simply awesome in the $73,000 Allerage Fillies & Mares Trot on Saturday afternoon at the Red Mile.
Dynamite Diva (George Brennan) had the best gate speed of the group of five, hitting the quarter in :28.3. Classic Lane (John Campbell) moved from fourth, and Dynamite Diva made a costly break as Brennan went for grips, taking her out of competition through the :57 half.
Buck I St Pat was situated second over behind Up Front Hotsey (Ron Pierce) as the four mares passed three-quarters in 1:26.1. As the field hit the stretch, Tetrick tipped the favourite and she responded by annihilating the field with a 27.4 closer to win in 1:54 by some 10 lengths. Classic Lane second. Diana Hall third.
Mickey Burke Jr. confirmed after the race that Buck I St Pat, trained by Ron Burke and owned by Howard Taylor, Edwin Gold, Abraham Basen and breeder Ronald Fuller, will be back on track in 2010. The Jailhouse Jesse - Name It Something mare notched her 40th lifetime win.
Tug River Princess The Queen of the Allerage
A pocket trip was music to the ears of John Campbell in winning the $80,000 Allerage Fillies & Mares Open Pace on Saturday afternoon at the Red Mile with Tug River Princess.
Hana Hanover (George Brennan) and Tug River Princess sprinted from the outside of the group of six, with Hana Hanover hitting the quarter in :27.4, Tug River Princess on her back and no movement through the :55 half with six mares in a line.
With three-eighths to go, Tim Tetrick pulled favoured Southwind Tempo from fifth to start her patented late brush. That flushed Go On BB (Dave Palone) who in turn flushed Campbell from the pocket as the three-quarter time flashed 1:23.2. Tug River Princess powered past Hana Hanover at the head of the lane with Southwind Tempo looming large on the outside. As the mares approached the wire, Tug River Princess had enough in the tank to fend off that challenger and rail-skimming longshot Apricot Brandy (Mike Lachance) to capture the Allerage in 1:51.
"Ross [Croghan] and I were just talking, she's just an exceptional mare," said driver John Campbell after the win. "Her temperament is so good that she doesn't want to do anything wrong."
In discussing the trip, Campbell said that the lead or the two hole would have been fine with him. "The two hole worked out good, my mare races good on top or in a hole. And she came out of there with a bow in her neck, she never gives up trying."
Campbell also thanked Sam McKee for his exceptional work throughout the Grand Circuit meet.
Tug River Princess (Badlands Hanover - Aucryifiwanto) has five wins in 12 starts on the season, 22 lifetime wins and over $1.36 million banked for trainer Croghan and owners Let It Ride Stables Inc of Delray Beach, Robert Cooper Stables LLC of Boca Raton, FL, and Jerry Silva of Long Beach, NY.
Mister Big Gets Closer To Gallo In Allerage
Holding off a fierce bid from the back of the pack, Mister Big took a major step toward Gallo Blue Chip's all-time earnings mark with the narrow victory in the $149,000 Allerage Horse & Gelding Open Final at the Red Mile.
The field left the gate with even speed, but Shark Gesture was the quickest of all, fronting the field to the :26.2 opener with Mister Big (Brian Sears) on his back. The outer flow was underway early as Art Official (Ron Pierce) was parked and forced to drive on from the outside, with Shadow Play (David Miller) on his back.
Shark Gesture passed the half in :53.3 and the three-quarters in 1:21.2 before he started to tire, leaving him vulnerable to a razor sharp Mister Big in the two hole. Sears popped the pocket to overtake the leader with Mister Big then had to hold off the furious rush from longshot Southwestern Dream (John Campbell) and Won The West (Jim Morrill Jr.). In the photo, Mister Big held on by a scant nose over Southwestern Dream with Won The West third and pacesetter Shark Gesture fourth in 1:49.2.
"He's battled sickness most of the year but he finished strong and he's sharp now," said Joe Muscara Jr. on behalf of the connections. "To win this race once, you have to be good and to win it twice you have to be great. 'Big' has won it three straight years."
On racing week in and week out with this solid group of older horses, Muscara echoed the sentiment of many in the industry: "I don't think there's been a better group of open horses."
Joe Muscara Sr. owns and Virgil Morgan Jr. trains Mister Big, who has now banked $4,081,852 lifetime. Gallo Blue Chip with $4,293,108 banked holds the record for pacers.