Maine Sires Stakes For Sophomores Complete

Luke McGook
Published: October 15, 2023 04:46 pm EDT

Luke McGook, the fast horse with the funny name, provided for a mild upset while capturing the $71,134 Maine Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, highlighting the rich $280,000-plus Pine Tree State-bred sophomore finals at Bangor on Oct. 14

Trained by the powerful Marc Tardif stable and driven to victory by Kevin Switzer Jr., the son of Rock N Roll World allowed his pylon starting position to enhance his chances at a big payday by allowing his stablemate favourite to take command in the early going.

The 1-5 bettors choice So Rock N Roll sprung hard and fast from the wings for driver Walter Case Jr., but had to work through a parked-out :28.4 opening panel before assuming total command going into the paddock turn.

As Case eased the field into a :59.2 half, the cavalry charge from the outer flow forced his hand to quicken the tempo through turn three and down the backside for the final time.

Last year’s freshman champ Two Towns Over (Aaron Hall) was first up, followed closely by Rockaroundsam (Dan Deslandes) with Luke McGook getting a perfect pocket trip into the 1:27.4 third panel.

With the outside horses failing to advance, track announcer Mike Sweeney exclaimed, “Luke McGook is revving up the engines as the two step clear of the field.”

Rounding the final turn, with dead aim on the finish line, the leaders fought head to head, toe to toe and wheel to wheel as the reinsmen boldly encouraged their charges with every ground-covering stride.  Under the shadow of the wire, Luke McGook got up to win by a scant three parts of a length in 1:57.1 over So Rock N Roll.

Trained by Marc Tardif for owner Leighton Property, Luke McGook picked up his ninth seasonal victory.  Bred by Erica Saucier, the sophomore gelding now has $105,404 in seasonal earnings.  He paid $7.60 to win.

Twice The Ice (Andrew Harrington) finished third, giving the Tardif Taskforce a sweep of the top three finishers.

South St Dottie easily handled her foes in the $71,118 Maine Sire Stakes final for three-year-old pacing fillies.  Driven by Nick Graffam for trainer Mike Graffam, the daughter of Western Maverick made every call a winning one, getting the pillar to post victory in 1:58.3.

Owned and bred by Jan Donaway, the even-money favourite has banked $124,044 this season with 10 trips to the winner's circle.  She paid $4.20 to win.

Katelyns Angel (Kevin Switzer Jr.) stayed close throughout the entire mile and was back just 1-1/4 lengths to be second. La Mambacita (Heath Campbell) was third.

Ivan Davies sent both of his star trotters out to do the work they were bred for, and neither disappointed.

In the opener, the $70,852 Maine Sire Stakes final for three-year-old trotting fillies, Wild Ending was unceremoniously barred from the wagering.  To the casual observer it may have been somewhat confusing as the filly was listed as scratched for the bettors and viewers at home.  Nonetheless, the Anita ‘Bunny’ Anastosopoulos-Andrew-owned and Mike Andrew-bred distaff by Boy Band was very much in the race and dictated all the fractions with authority.

With the wire-to-wire victory nearly preordained, the final time was clocked in 2:03.2, with the ‘purse only’ participant winning by 5-1/4 lengths.  Her seasonal kitty has now soared to $105,683 with nine wins to her credit.  Coming off that impressive victory, she looks to be a hot commodity in the upcoming Harrisburg Mixed Sale.

For betting purposes, the second-place finisher Another Adventure (Kevin Switzer Jr.) was declared the pari-mutuel ‘winner’ and paid $14.  B R Glory (Wally Watson) was third.

Wild Ending’s stablemate and Boy Band-sired travel companion Wabanaki also made quick work of his challengers in the $70,966 Maine Sire Stakes final for sophomore male trotters.

Davies took command and never looked back as the gelding cruised through every panel with ease in the early non-wagering event, scoring in 2:00.3. While the margin of victory was 3-1/4 lengths, the win was bittersweet for all the same connections as this horse will also head to the Standardbred Horse Sale in November.  With his steady gait and will to win, interested parties will find his $100,934 in seasonal earnings very attractive.

The Maine Sire Stakes finals are a strong representation of the culmination of years of hard work and dedication of behalf of dozens of industry stakeholders, including, but not limited to the owners, breeders, trainers, drivers and caretakers of these equine athletes. 

Not only do these horses represent a significant individual and collective investment in harness racing and agriculture in the state of Maine, but the peripheral revenue generated by the truck and trailer sales and maintenance, fuel suppliers, feed companies, hay producers, tack shops, blacksmiths, farm owners and the racetracks and fairs that give them a place to compete, generously exceeds seven figures annually.

(Maine Sires Stakes)

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