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American Passport, Racing Hill Sharpest

Published: October 9, 2015 4:54 pm ET

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On Friday, October 9 at the Red Mile the Tony Alagna-trained American Passport won his International Stallion Stakes (ISS) division over a ‘good’ track at the Kentucky oval.

Taking the lead before the quarter, American Passport soon went a :28.3 first panel. He braced pressure from Good Living through a :57.3 half and 1:25.2 third quarter before odds-on favourite Spider Man Hanover tipped off cover and commenced his challenge. Yet, American Passport was under a hand drive through the stretch as he drew clear from Spider Man Hanover, Fine Diamond, and Good Living.

Winning his third race in nine starts this season, the American Ideal colt, out of the Four Starzzz Shark mare Star Of The Show, is owned by Brittany Farms, Riverview Racing, and Alagna Racing. He returned $4.60 to win.

“We were always very high on this colt,” Tony Alagna said. “He baby raced very well, and then he just kind of got off on the wrong foot. We had to take a deep breath and regroup a little bit. Ever since we’ve done that, he’s come back and paid us back for the kind of horse we thought he’d be.”

“In his elimination for the Metro, he was second to Control The Moment, who’s probably the top-ranked colt in the country right now,” Alagna also said. “And then he drew the 10-hole (in the final). The day we qualified him out here, it was real windy. The leaves were falling off the trees, and he was trying to step over every leaf on the track. Chris Loney said ‘I’ve never seen a horse jump that high in the air and land, pace, and take off again,’” he also said regarding American Passport’s break in his qualifier.

“Scott’s (Zeron) a very professional driver,” owner Myron Bell said. “He’s a young man, and he has a lot of wisdom for a young man.”

“We sold a mare to a gentleman in Ohio,” Bell also said when talking about how Brittany Farms, the breeder of American Passport, acquired him through sale. “He raised this colt, and we saw him at Harrisburg last fall and purchased him.”

Trainer Tony Alagna took another ISS division with Racing Hill, a colt by Roll With Joe out of the American Ideal mare Chasing Ideals. Driven by Brett Miller, Racing Hill won his ISS split in 1:51.2.

Racing Hill stalked Manny off a :27.3 first quarter before being shuffled to third by the brush of Travel Playlist to the lead. After a :56.4 half, Racing Hill was locked at the pylons while Travel Playlist tussled with first-over challenger Talk Show. Together, the duelers passed three-quarters in 1:25, which was where Racing Hill began to fan from the pylons towards the centre of the course. By the eighth pole, Racing Hill was at his best strides, quickly drawing away from Travel Playlist and Talk Show to an open length win.

Owned by Tom Hill, Racing Hill took his fourth race in eight starts this year. He paid $11.80 to win.

“We left out of there and I really wanted to follow the five-horse (Travel Playlist), but when the three (Manny) was coming at us, that wasn’t my plan. When I turned the three loose, I said ‘Well, we’re going to need some luck on our side,’ which we did. Once he squeezed out, he was vicious today.”

“I was very impressed with him in Canada (in the Metro Pace),” Miller also said. “I couldn’t get him on the gate, and we were way back. He raced very well that night.”

“I’ve always had a lot of confidence in this colt,” Tony Alagna said. “He had some things not go his way; when Brett (Miller) was talking about being a little funny behind the gate, they (Mohawk Racetrack) have the timed starter there, and the numbers stopped flashing. When they stopped flashing, he just hit the brakes; it scared him to death. He was lucky to make the final, and he just wasn’t at his best that night. We scoped him and he was a little sick.”

“I thought the addition of Lasix down here would really help this horse,” Alagna also said. “He had a lot of allergies, and it has really turned a corner on the horse. Even after we scoped him that day, he still had some white, frothy mucus in there, and I said ‘This time of year, if he has that issue, he needs it.’ He gets a really low dose, but it’s enough to drive him up for the race.”

“It’s fantastic,” owner Tom Hill said about winning two Grand Circuit events over the meeting at the Red Mile. “The only thing I’m sorry about is that my other son, William, is at home doing the work, looking after the business. I wish he was here, because he’d be really pleased. I’m having plenty of fun thanks to Tony (Alagna), and the rest of my family are here. The whole family’s here except for my son William, who’s with his family at home. It’s been a great day and I’m really honored to win the race.”

John Butenschoen’s Ideal Rocky won the first division of the ISS. The son of Rocknroll Hanover out of the Bettors Delight mare Eternitys Delight, flew into contention after stalking a pace of :29.2, :59, and 1:27.2 set by Im Some Graduate. Driver Corey Callahan positioned Ideal Rocky third over in the far turn, fanning him wide of More Dragon and Sam Mcsmith. His acceleration didn’t begin until mid stretch, where he powered alongside Sam Mcsmith and soon powered by him to a 1:54 mile.

Owned by William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, and Eugene Schick, Corey Callahan steered Ideal Rocky to his fifth win in 11 starts this season, paying $11.00 to win.

“I was concerned at the quarter pole,” Corey Callahan said. “(They went) :29.2, then a half in :59. My colt felt good, but he was going to have to come a big back half to get there, and obviously he did. He was absolutely super today.”

“He’s normally really responsive,” Callahan also said regarding his effort in a $97,400 Bluegrass division on Friday, October 2. “Last week, I was even trying to zing him up a little bit scoring down, and I couldn’t get him to grab the bit at all. He just had a bad day; I knew today, following cover, that he felt good. When I move him, he’s got a wicked move, and he showed it here today.”

“He was fine behind the gate,” Callahan also said regarding Ideal Rocky’s maturity. “In those first couple of starts at the Meadowlands, he wouldn’t go to the gate, which is kind of way we would always end up in the back. He has overcome that; John (Butenschoen) has done a good job with that. I think he has a very bright future.”

Striding to the wire effortlessly off a first-over trip, Big Top Hanover took the second ISS division in 1:52.1 by open lengths over Fernando Hanover and Mindtrip.

The fractions were set by Owen Hanover, with splits of :28.1 and :56.2. Big Top Hanover edged to the outside slightly after the half, and came eye to eye with Owen Hanover midway through the turn. By three-quarters in 1:25.1, Big Top Hanover pulled away from Owen Hanover, who was overtaken for second by closers Mindtrip and Fernando Hanover, who only chased home Big Top Hanover and narrowly cut into his margin of victory.

A $3.20 winner, Big Top Hanover, by Western Ideal out of the Art Major mare Blind Ambition, is owned by Jt45 and Burke Racing Stables, trained by Ron Burke, and driven by Yannick Gingras. This was his second win in 10 starts this year.

“Yannick (Gingras) just gave the perfect drive to Big Top (Hanover),” owner Jerry Silva said. “Big Top is a grinder. This time, he (Gingras) pulled him early and no one was able to go with him.”

(Red Mile)

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