Rookie Trotters Shine In Indiana Super Finals

Published: October 13, 2023 08:46 am EDT

The first of two nights crowing Indiana Sire Stakes champions at Harrah’s Hoosier Park kicked off as part of the 13-race card on Thursday, Oct. 12. The freshman trotters were the first to step into the spotlight with the $250,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Super Finals for both the two-year-old trotting colts and the fillies, with Musclefantastic (pictured above) and Ponda Title emerging in two deep-stretch thrillers in their respective divisions.

Leaving from post three in the field of 10, driver Robert Taylor landed in the fourth position in the early stages of the mile as Dashing Danning navigated post nine in a hurry with driver Kyle Wilfong, clearing to the lead through a hot opening quarter of :27.2. Dashing Danny continued to have things his way on the front end up the backstretch, leading the field to the halfway point in :56.3 with Topville Sebastian and Trace Tetrick in hot pursuit from second. Taylor opted to keep Musclefantastic on the rail from fourth as Gruesome Twosome and Daryl Bontrager were the first to move first-up from third as Dashing Danny continued to lead to three-quarters in 1:25.4.

As the trotters turned for home, Tetrick popped the pocket with Topville Sebastian to engage Dashing Danny on the lead with Musclefantastic patiently waiting for room behind the duelling leaders. Daylight came in the form of the Harrah’s Hoosier Park passing lane as Musclefantastic made it a three-horse battle to the wire, surging up the pylons with a :28.4 final quarter to score the victory by three-quarters of a length. Dashing Danny held gamely to finish second, with Topville Sebastian rounding out the trifecta. Musclefantastic paid $46.60 for the 21-1 upset victory.

“Going into the race, I knew there was going to be some action up front,” said trainer-driver Robert Taylor. “I wanted to work out the best trip I could with the inside draw, I had an opportunity to be second over on the far turn, but the cover wasn’t going forward, so I opted to stay against the rail and save ground and go up the inside and fortunately the timing worked out perfectly.”

Taylor also does the training on Musclefantastic, who picked up his third victory in nine seasonal starts. Owned by Kyle and Jill Hupfer, Musclefantastic pushed his career earnings to $178,865 with the victory. Bred by Perry Bontrager, Musclefantastic is a gelded son of Muscle Massive out of the Andover Hall mare, Busybeingdreamy.

“We took our time with this colt this year,” Taylor mentioned. “He’s really been good all year long, there have been a few ups and downs to overcome throughout the season but he showed ability early. He is Breeders Crown eligible so that is an option that is still on the table for him that we’ll have that discussion over the next couple days to decide what’s next for him.”

Sire Muscle Massive captured the Super Final sweep on the card as Ponda Title proved to be the gutsiest of winners in the $250,000 Super Final for two-year-old trotting fillies.

Starting from post seven, Ponda Title and regular pilot Kyle Wilfong found themselves to the outside of 50-1 longshot Black Gold and James Yoder, battling for the lead through an opening quarter of :27.3. Ponda Title cleared to the lead on the backstretch where Wilfong worked out a :30 second breather in the second quarter, reaching the half in :57.3. Somebody Special and Trace Tetrick were the first to challenge Ponda Title on the lead, surging first-over to reach the leader's wheel at three-quarters in 1:27.1 with Skyway Paige and Lewayne Miller in tow second over.

Ponda Title turned for home with the lead, bracing for a two-pronged attack as Black Gold eyed the massive upset up the pylons and Skyway Paige launched off cover for driver LeWayne Miller. Ponda Title dug in gamely in the lane, trotting home in a staunch :29, refusing to let either filly by in the lane to score the victory by a neck on the line in 1:56.1. Skyway Paige got up for the place position, with Black Gold valiant in defeat for third. Ponda Title returned $3.20 to her backers at the betting windows.

“She’s got a great nose that likes to win and get to the wire first,” driver Kyle Wilfong laughed. “I wasn’t too concerned about the outside draw, I felt like she was the best horse coming into tonight and fortunately we were able to get where we needed to be and it all worked out.”

Trained by Jay Hochstetler, Ponda Title notched her seventh victory in an 11-start 2023 campaign. Owned by Connie Hochstetler, Robert Buddig and Allen Schwartz, Ponda Title pushed her gaudy bankroll to nearly a half-million, banking $483,420 on the season. Bred by Pond-A-Acres, Ponda Title is by Muscle Massive out of the Angus Hall mare, Elin.

“She’s been a blessing and makes my job easy,” said trainer Jay Hochstetler. “I give a lot of credit to my dad [Homer Hochstetler], who picked her out at the sale last year -- he was high on her all spring in Carolina. She can be a little over ambitious on the track occasionally, but overall she’s a professional on and off the track and a pleasure to work with.”

Indiana Sires Stakes Super Finals continue on Friday, Oct. 13 with a 15-race card offering over $1.8 million in purses. The two remaining two-year-old divisions along with the four sophomore divisions will compete in their $250,000 Super Finals along with the older foes going to battle in their $70,000 championships. First post for the 15-race card is 6:15 p.m.

(Hoosier Park)

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