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Freshmen Fantastic In Fall Four

Published: October 25, 2014 8:42 pm ET

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Woodbine Racetrack hosted the Fall Four stakes for harness racing's brightest freshman stars on Saturday night featuring winning performances from the Jimmy Takter-trained trotters Smexi and Pinkman, the rebounding pacing colt Artspeak and the undefeated pacing filly JK Shesalady.

Smexi Pulls Off Goldsmith Maid Shocker

The Fall Four stakes for two-year-olds began with a bang as the Jimmy Takter-trained trotting filly Smexi and driver Corey Callahan pulled off a 78-1 shocker in the $464,000 Goldsmith Maid.

The race set up for an upset when four fillies broke stride at the start, including overwhelming 1-5 favourite Mission Brief, driven by Yannick Gingras. Meanwhile, Stubborn Belle and Paul MacDonell got away well from post seven and led the field through panels of :27.3, :57.1 and 1:25.4 with Smexi on her back. The top two fillies were all alone on top in the stretch when Callahan pulled the longshot from the pocket and drew clear for the 1:54.4 victory. The time of mile was just one-fifth of a second off the stakes record. Stubborn Belle's stablemate Juanitas Fury, with Steve Condren aboard, finished back in third for trainer John Bax.

"Leaving out of there, I looked over and saw that [Mission Brief] had made a break," said Callahan after the race. "We got really lucky, Paul and I, we just kind of got things our own way up there. Nobody really moved and it worked out perfect for me."

Smexi was a $35,000 Lexington Select Sale yearling bred by Brittany Farms and is owned by Takter's wife Christina, Toronto brothers John and Jim Fielding, and Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, Florida. The Explosive Matter-Sanna Hanover filly earned just her second career win in 11 starts and boosted her bankroll to nearly $365,000.

Smexi returned $159.30 to win.

Takter Trainees Produce Valley Victory Photo Finish

Jimmy Takter stablemates Pinkman and Uncle Lasse hit the wire together in first and second in a photo finish in the $521,000 Valley Victory for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings.

As 2-5 favourite Habitat and Yannick Gingras led the field through fractions of :27.2, :56.4 and 1:26.2, catch-driver Sylvain Filion tipped Pinkman off the pylons from fifth and flushed out cover in the form of Uncle Lasse and Ron Pierce. Down the stretch, Uncle Lasse overtook the pacesetter while his barn buddy rallied up alongside to produce the photo finish. Pinkman edged out Uncle Lasse by a head at the wire in 1:55.4 while Habitat stayed for third, finishing one and a half lengths behind. Takter trainees The Bank (Takter) and Walter White (Brian Sears) also picked up cheques finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Takter described Pinkman as "average" training down, noting that "he has surprised me a lot actually."

The $77,000 Lexington Select Sale yearling has blossomed late in the season, winning four of his last five starts to push his earnings over $333,000.

"Pinkman is a horse that came late and he has been racing super the last six weeks," said Takter. "We castrated him after the baby races -- he didn't pay attention when he was supposed to -- and he had a very complicated castration so it took a long time for him to get where he is."

Sent postward as the 7-1 third choice in the field, Pinkman paid $16.60 to win.

The Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster gelding is also owned by Christina Takter, Liverman and the Fieldings, along with partner Joyce McClelland of Zanesville, Ohio.

Artspeak Rebounds In Governor's Cup

Popular two-year-old pacing colt Artspeak returned to his winning ways in the $565,000 Governor's Cup to add another trophy to his growing collection.

Artspeak and regular reinsman Scott Zeron rallied home off cover to prevail in 1:50.4 for trainer Tony Alagna.

Blood Brother (Sylvain Filion) was the first to get a call as he fired off the gate from post nine and crossed over to command into a :26.3 opening quarter. His lead was short-lived though as Lost For Words (Doug McNair) came out and around him and raced to the half-mile mark :54.3 with Pierce Hanover (Jody Jamieson) moving first up, Lyons Again (Yannick Gingras) on his back and Artspeak following third over. Pierce Hanover cleared to command en route to three-quarters in 1:21.4 and began to open up a couple of lengths on the lead. However, Artspeak closed off cover down the stretch to steal the glory with Go Daddy Go (Corey Callahan) sprinting home from the backfield to grab the runner-up honours over Pierce Hanover.

Artspeak won his first seven races, including the Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack. Minor breaking issues resulted in a pair of third-place finishes in his last two starts, but his connections were confident heading into Saturday's race that they "had the kinks worked out."

"I came up Tuesday and trained him on Wednesday. He trained fantastic at the farm," said Alagna. "Most people know that if I didn't have confidence the horse was okay, and with the connections that own the horse, he would have never been here to race so I was very happy that he showed us the redemption that everybody thought he should have.

"It was something very minor, but it's one of those things where every now and then you have to take a step back and take a deep breath and get back to basics and that's basically what we did and everything turned out great."

The wagering public was also confident in the Western Ideal-The Art Museum colt, making him their 6-5 favourite. He paid $3.50 to win.

"I'd like to dedicate tonight and this race to my trainer Boyd Wilson's mother that passed away two days ago," added Alagna. "This is for her."

Artspeak, who was a $100,000 Lexington Selected Sale yearling, is owned by co-breeder Brittany Farms along with Toronto's Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco of Brecksville, Ohio and In The Gym Partners of Staten Island, New York. His career earnings now stand at $805,727.

JK Shesalady Perfect In Three Diamonds

Undefeated two-year-old pacing filly JK Shesalady pushed her win streak into the double digits in the final Fall Four stakes event of the night.

Yannick Gingras drove the Art Major-Presidential Lady filly to her 10th straight victory in the $424,000 Three Diamonds for trainer Nancy Johansson and New York-based owner/breeder 3 Brothers Stables.

"It seems to be working for her so there's no sense in changing anything," said Gingras of the off-the-pace racing style the filly has used to win all of her starts. "She likes to relax the first half and she's got a huge brush for the second half."

When the starting car sped away, Solar Sister (Doug McNair) out-sprinted Ideal Nuggets (Sylvain Filion) to the lead into a :26.2 first quarter before The Show Returns (Scott Zeron) pocketed that foe, making a backstretch brush from third to first. The Show Returns proceeded to lead the field past the half in :55.4 and to three-quarters in 1:24 with pressure mounting from 1-5 favourite JK Shesalady, who advanced from mid-pack and took over command off the final turn. JK Shesalady drew clear down the stretch and held off Solar Sister and Ideal Nuggets for the 1:52.1 triumph.

JK Shesalady has amassed nearly $670,000 is purse earnings during her perfect freshman campaign.

"When I baby raced her I thought she was a nice filly, but I didn't think she was this kind of filly," admitted Gingras after the race. "She's gotten better and better as the year went along. She went a huge mile tonight, but I think the mile she went up here in the Shes A Great Lady [at Mohawk] was probably the biggest mile she went herself."

JK Shesalady paid $2.50 to win.

Modern Legend Stars On Fall Four Undercard

Canadian Pacing Derby champion Modern Legend was the star of the Fall Four stakes undercard as he returned to the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit and tackled the Preferred pacers.

Driven by Ron Pierce, Modern Legend made a backstretch brush to take over command from Dovuto Hanover (Jody Jamieson) then rebuffed a challenge from State Treasurer in deep stretch and held off the pocket-pulling Dovuto Hanover to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.4. Shamballa (Rick Zeron) finished three lengths back in third. The early fractions were :27.3, :56.1 and 1:24.

The six-year-old Modern Art-Ruby Cam gelding now has 19 wins in 60 career starts and earnings totalling $871,125 for St. Catharines, Ont. owner/trainer Dave Drew of Dave Drew Associates Inc.

Sent postward as the 6-5 favourite in the $34,000 Preferred, Modern Legend paid $4.40 to win.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Racetrack.

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