This year's Matron Stakes and Progress Pace contenders prepped for next week's finals on Sunday evening at Dover Downs in a handful of eliminations and previews. Highlights included Jimmy Takter trainees sweeping the top three spots in the sophomore colt trot elimination and Breeders Crown champions Heston Blue Chip and Somwherovrarainbow returning to the winner's circle in their respective previews.
Takter trainees Guccio, Uncle Peter and Little Brown Fox dominated the $46,813 Matron elimination for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings.
Little Brown Fox and Yannick Gingras cleared to command at the :27.2 first quarter mark over Uncle Peter and Ron Pierce and led the way to the half in :57.1 and three-quarters in 1:25.1 with My Mvp advancing first over, Guccio and Takter on his back, and Googoo Gaagaa third over. Little Brown Fox was still leading by two lengths into the stretch, but Uncle Peter pulled the pocket and swept by with the three-wide Guccio closing late on the outside. Guccio edged past his stablemates in 1:53.4, paying $31.40 for the upset win. Googoo Gaagaa and My Mvp finished fourth and fifth. Also advancing to the final are Modern Family, Mr Chicago, and Stormin Normand.
Recovering from a miscue in the Breeders Crown, Guccio notched his third win of the season and pushed his earnings over $677,000 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, and Falkbolagen Ab.
Driven by Ron Pierce, Win Missy B, the Kentucky Futurity champion who recently placed in the Breeders Crown, delivered as expected in the $49,800 Matron elimination for three-year-old trotting fillies.
The 1-2 favourite gave way to Dorsay during the :27.3 opening panel, but quickly swept to the top in front of the grandstand. She proceeded to lead to the half in :57.4 and three-quarters in 1:26.3 while Mystical Escapade advanced first over with Personal Style following. However, Win Missy B remained strong down the stretch to win in 1:55 flat. Personal Style came on for second over Mystical Escapade. Dorsay finished fourth and Kristins Victory was fifth. Also advancing are Cowgirl Hall, Blue Yonder, and Superstar Hanover.
With a record reading 8-8-2 in 19 sophomore starts, Win Missy B has banked more than half of her $1.5 million bankroll this year for trainer Charlie Norris and owner-breeder Robert Key.
With Yannick Gingras in tow, Jugette champion Darena Hanover front-stepped her way to victory lane in the $41,313 Matron elimination for three-year-old pacing fillies.
The even-money favourite swept from third to first after the :26.3 opening quarter and cruised through middle fractions of :56 and 1:23.2 en route to the 1:51.1 truimph. Moonlit Dragon followed just over one length behind from the pocket while Shelliscape advanced first over to show. Brownsville Bomber and Mileys Big World earned the final paycheques. Also advancing to the final are Marty Party, Handsoffmycookie, and Kiss Dont Bite.
Darena Hanover now boasts a sophomore record reading 7-6-2 in 19 starts and seasonal earnings of more than $366,000 for Burke Racing Stable LLC.
Heston Blue Chip, the even-money favourite after his Breeders Crown win for trainer Linda Toscano, romped to a 1:49.3 open length victory in the $35,000 Progress Pace Preview for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Escape The News advanced first over to place with Thinking Out Loud over-taking pocket-sitter Sweet Lou to show. The fractions were :26.4, :55.4 and 1:23.1.
Fresh off a victory in the Breeders Crown, 1-9 favourite Somwherovrarainbow went gate-to-wire to win the $53,550 Matron Preview for two-year-old pacing fillies in 1:52.4. Pocket-sitter Live Entertainment closed up the pylons, but missed by a neck, while Handsoffmycupcake advanced first over for third. Montrell Teague drove the winner for his father, trainer George Teague Jr.
Breeders Crown runner-up Time To Kill, driven by John Campbell for trainer Jeff Webster, won the $41,375 Matron Preview for two-year-old trotting fillies over Royal Assets and the recovering breaker Order By Credit in 1:57.1. The heavy 1-5 favourite swept to command after the opening quarter and never looked back en route to the one length victory.
The $53,225 Matron Preview for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings went to pacesetter Sand Royal Blu and David Miller, who pulled off a 43-1 upset in 1:57 for trainer Tye Loy. San Donato advanced into the pocket spot and followed the winner under the wire one length behind while Caveat Emptor rallied three-wide around the stalled favourite Dontyouforgetit to come on for third.
Pat Lachance trainees Sir Carys Z Tam and Sir Richard Z Tam finished one-two in the $55,325 Matron Preview for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. With Mike Lachance in the bike, Sir Carys Z Tam advanced first over from fourth down the backstretch and wore down favourite Dedis Dragon into the stretch. He held off his closing stablemate and trainer to upset at odds of 44-1 in 1:54 by three-quarters of a length. Teresas Beach finished third.