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Speed Early Friday At The Red Mile

Published: October 4, 2019 2:08 pm ET

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Rookie trotting filly Violet Stride gave her connections and TROT Magazine Fantasy Stable supporters a welcomed bankroll boost with one of the fastest miles ever by a two-year-old trotting filly to kick off stakes action on Friday (Oct. 4) at The Red Mile.

In the first $71,800 International Stallion Stake for two-year-old trotting fillies, Violet Stride was forwardly placed for driver Tyler Buter and reached the opening quarter in :28. Buter kept the tempo honest, yielding the lead to favoured Love A Good Story (Andy Miller) through a :55.2 half and staying right with the leader as the third panel was reached in 1:24. With a strong filly poised in the pocket, Buter right-lined Violet Stride in the stretch and she easily powered past Love A Good Story and drew clear to trip the timer in 1:52. Love A Good Story and Crucial (Chris Page) completed the triactor.

The mile time is the fastest by a rookie trotter regardless of gender this year and the fourth fastest by a two-year-old trotting filly ever, joining the company of Mission Brief, Cooler Schooner and Ariana G as freshman fillies with marks of 1:52 or better.

Mark Harder trains Violet Stride (Trixton - Sterling Volo) for owners Emilio & Maria Rosati. The same connections also experienced success with three-quarter sister Lily Stride, winner of the 2018 Breeders Crown for three-year-old trotting fillies. Clearly smitten with the family, the Rosatis also purchased the Southwind Frank yearling brother to these fillies, Stormy Volo, on the opening day of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale for $200,000.

Harder said after the race that the filly will be pointed to the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

"She's been good all along, I wouldn't say that it's the track that's done it. She hasn't had a lot of chances in races and today she was given a real good chance."

The longtime conditioner also joked to Dave Brower that an injury that's kept him of the track might have helped the filly pick up her third win in nine seasonal starts.

"I put my hand in a wheel which is not a good place to put it...maybe that's why she won, I left her alone," said Harder with a laugh.

The winner's share of the purse lifts Violet Stride's bankroll to $96,790.

Ramona Hill remained unbeaten when holding off a late charge from pocket-sitter Sister Sledge in the second International Stallion split.

Sister Sledge slid from the pylon post towards the top heading to the first turn as Ramona Hill unhurriedly progressed towards the top from post eight moving to a :27.4 first quarter. Ramona Hill continued to lead under minimal pressure through a :55.3 half and three-quarters in 1:24.4 before scooting to a three-length lead as Sister Sledge threw some bad steps when edging from the pocket. Sister Sledge soon hit her best stride and closed ground on Ramona Hill nearing the wire but finished a neck shy of the winner. Shishito, stalking the top two, took third.

“Around March [or] April when [Tony Alagna] was training her down [that] he said she’s very talented,” said Albert Crawford, co-owner of Ramona Hill through Crawford Farms Racing. “When he qualified her, I think it was a [1]:55, [1]:56 [mile] with a big last quarter, he said she’s a special filly.”

Winning all five of her starts, Ramona Hill has earned $112,400 for breeder Crawford Farms, which co-owns the Muscle Hill filly as Crawford Farms Racing with Brad Grant, Robert Leblanc and In The Gym Partners. Tony Alagna conditions the $3.80 winner and Andrew McCarthy sat in the bike.

Runner-up to Ramona Hill in the Bluegrass, Madame Sherry prevailed as the 8-5 second choice in the third International Stallion division.

Queen Of The Hill kicked for the front from post seven while Heaven ducked for the pocket and Madame Sherry raced third to a :28.4 first quarter. Driver Tim Tetrick then angled Madame Sherry from third and swept the Jim Campbell trainee to the top before a :56.2 half.

Common Sense S, sent postward as the 6-5 favourite, pulled first over from fifth moving to the final turn. She slowly advanced towards the leader and obtained cover passing three-quarters in 1:25.4 as Queen Of The Hill vacated pocket for the stretch drive. Madame Sherry drifted slightly from the cones through the lane, leaving a slim seam for Heaven to slip through nearing the finish. However Madame Sherry held off Heaven, winning by a head in 1:54.1 with Queen Of The Hill third.

A Kentuckiana Farms-bred filly by Father Patrick, Madame Sherry won her second race from six starts, earning $89,773 for owner Coyote Wynd Farms. She paid $5.20 to win.

Sherry Lyns Lady lunged off cover to take the final International Stallion division.

The 6-5 favourite, Sherry Lyns Lady raced fourth to a :28.3 opening quarter as the other 6-5 choice Senorita Rita fronted the field into the backstretch. Panem, caught wide around the first turn, continued to race uncovered while stalled wide of Sherry Lyns Lady through a :56.1 half.

Panem backtracked moving into the final turn while Senorita Rita raced unpressured past three-quarters in 1:25. Dune Hill, sitting the pocket, floated wide as Sherry Lyns Lady angled wider into the stretch. Senorita Rita clung to control through the lane but got outkicked by Sherry Lyns Lady in the final sixteenth and settled for second. Rebecca Clark, at 46-1, skimmed the pylons to snag third.

“Hats off to [Coyote Wynd Farms] because they did all the homework in selecting these two fillies,” Campbell said after the race, “and I was just blessed enough to be the one that gets to train them. Sometimes we get fooled...I told John [Floren of Coyote Wynd Farms] the other night 'I gave you all good training reports. I’m just glad [the horses] backed it up because it doesn’t always work that way.' We always say that when you go baby race the first couple of starts it pretty much tells the truth and these fillies lived up to that."

Giving Jim Campbell a training double, Sherry Lyns Lady also races for Floren's Coyote Wynd Farms. Bred by Steve Stewart and Timot Stable Inc., Sherry Lyns Lady collected her third victory from 10 starts and bankrolled $310,554. Tim Tetrick drove the $4.40 winner.

“She was sitting good. Timmy [Tetrick] knows her because he drove her from the very beginning in her baby races,” Campbell also said of the race. “He just angled her out and she did the rest. Down by the wire, she was trotting strong.”

Two divisions of International Stallion Stakes were sponsored by Southwind Farms, with two sponsored by the Walner Syndicate.

The two divisions for the $239,000 Arlene Siegel Memorial International Stallion Stake for two-year-old pacing fillies, sponsored by Jules Siegel and Fashion Farms, saw the heavy favourites get beat.

Making her fourth start, 10-1 shot New Year hit the Grand Circuit winner’s circle with a first-over grind to take the opening division of the International Stallion.

The Bethinator shot for the front moving to the first turn with 6-5 favourite Reflect With Me floating into the pocket before circling to the top past a :28.4 first quarter. New Year, sitting fourth, tipped first-over as the field sped to a :56.2 half and ranged towards the pacesetter to then match strides with Reflect With Me passing three-quarters in 1:24.1. The Somebeachsomewhere filly dug into Reflect With Me entering the stretch and lunged past to lead approaching the finish. JK First Lady, swooping from third over, rallied widest on the track to finish second while Reflect With Me held third.

“The owners are very patient and they agree that the less you do at two, the more you get at three and I’m at the same mindset,” trainer Ross Croghan said after the race on bringing New Year to the races so late in the season. “This filly was very heavy as an early two-year-old; she carried a massive amount of weight. A nice, hot summer helped us slowly peel that off into racing condition. She’s always shown a little bit of grit.

Out of the world champion mare Drop The Ball, New Year collected her third victory while earning $83,680 for owners Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Dana Parham, who also bred the $22.80 winner. Corey Callahan sat in the bike behind the possible Breeders Crown starter.

“I’ll talk to the owners...[the Breeders Crown’s] all she has left,” Croghan said. “If they want to go, and she comes out of this race good, she’ll go.”

Nancy Johansson trainee Peaky Sneaky surged first over around the final turn and edged to a 1:50.3 victory in the second division of the Arlene Siegel Memorial.

Rocknificent, sent the 6-5 favourite, led the field past a :26.4 first quarter with Hidden Cove sitting in the pocket and 8-5 second choice Gai Waterhouse racing third. Gai Waterhouse then angled from third and brushed to the front passing a :55.3 half but soon yielded command to Lady Lou, carrying Peaky Sneaky on cover, entering the final turn.

Peaky Sneaky continued to advance when uncovered approaching three-quarters in 1:23.1. The Bettors Delight filly drew alongside Lady Lou entering the stretch and dug into the late leader before slipping by late in the stretch to win. Lady Lou held second from Rocknificent, who rallied wide for third.

“We started off kind of slow [in Ontario] and then we moved her into the Ontario Sires Stakes and the Champlain and she kept surprising me,” Johansson said after the race. “So I let her go in the She’s A Great Lady. [It was] a far way for a two-year-old filly to go, especially when she had been racing four weeks in a row — which I really don’t ever do. But she was racing well and is kind of easy on herself between the races, so we gave her the shot. She definitely needed that week off after the She’s A Great Lady.

“She’s been racing really good and getting some tough trips, but she’s very honest,” Johansson also said. “I told Dexter [Dunn] before she went onto the track [that] she’s going to give you all she has; she always does.”

Bred by White Birch Farm and owned by Howard Taylor, Judith Taylor and Order By Stable, Peaky Sneaky won her second race from eight starts, earning $100,377. Dexter Dunn drove the $14.60 winner.

For many years the Grand Circuit meet at the Red Mile always made available a race for amateur drivers and this season was no exception.

A seven-horse field was sent to post at 12:30 p.m. prior to the betting card getting underway. When the judges hung the official sign, veteran trotter Inukchuk Chuck once again showed his heels to the field.

Kiara Morgan guided the six-year-old gelding to a 1:56.2 triumph, his fourth consecutive victory since September 26; two were at Delaware, Ohio followed by two now at the Red Mile and all four wins came at the hands of lady drivers. Hannah Miller won the Delaware trots and now Kiara Morgan has made it two-in-a-row at Lexington.

After starting from post six Morgan sent Inukchuk Chuck toward the front but settled in third as Miller and Jacks To Open challenged Fairground Drama (Richard Roach) for the lead, which she obtained before the halfway point.

But as Miller's trotter settled on top she had to contend with Morgan's charge, who began to rally. And when he did, Inukchuk Chuck took command and survived a late charge from Utopia and driver Steve Oldford to notch his ninth seasonal triumph. Third place went to Security Guard who was driven by Dein Spriggs.

The winner is owned by Cliff Grundy and trained by Nick Surick.

Grand Circuit action resumes at The Red Mile Saturday, Oct. 5 with four divisions of the $275,000 Betting Line International Stallion Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts (sponsored by the Betting Line Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farms), the $216,000 Glen Garnsey Memorial (sponsored by the Sweet Lou Syndicate and Diamond Creek Farms) for sophomore pacing fillies, the $186,000 Mister Big Allerage Farms Open Pace (sponsored by Muscara Standardbreds) and the $145,000 Cantab Hall Allerage Farms Trot (sponsored by Jeff & Paula Gural). Racing gets underway with first-race post at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).

(with files from The Red Mile)

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