Heston Blue Chip romped to a 1:49 victory in the $270,000 Progress Pace for three-year-old pacing colts, which was featured on Dover Downs' $1.3 million Super Sunday card.
Driven by Tim Tetrick, Heston Blue Chip fired off the gate from post five and blazed through a :25.2 opening quarter while forcing the challenging Escape The News (Yannick Gingras) into the two-hole.
The heavy 1-5 favourite proceeded to lead the field through middle fractions of :54 and 1:21.1 with stablemate Bettors Edge (David Miller) advancing first over from fourth, Sweet Lou (Dave Palone) following his cover and Thinking Out Loud (John Campbell) rallying three-wide.
Heston Blue Chip maintained his lead into the stretch and held off the hard-closing Thinking Out Loud for the 1:49 triumph, coming within two-fifths of a second of the track record. Bettors Edge finished third.
"I thought I had the best horse so I took control and he got the job done," said Tetrick, referring to the flashy opening quarter. "He gave it his all tonight. He was tired at the wire, but he's supposed to be with a :25.2 first quarter and a mile in 1:49. The horse raced really well. He's fun to get to sit behind every week."
"It's just been a Cinderella year," commented trainer Linda Toscano following the win. "Thanks to Timmy and all my owners. It's absolutely incredible. You can't dream this big."
The American Ideal-Shot Togo Bluechip colt, this year's Breeders Crown divisional winner, earned his fourth consecutive stakes score and 13th win in 16 sophomore starts for owner Kenneth Jacobs of Baldwinsville, New York. His earnings climbed to $930,081 for the year and over $1.3 million lifetime.
"I went down to [breeder] Blue Chip three times before the auction [in Harrisburg] and I really did like the conformation and I liked the second dam," explained Jacobs. "The first dam had some problems. I really liked the family from the second and third dam so that's the horse I went down to buy and I was very successful because nobody else was bidding on him. So he went for a very inexpensive price of $30,000, but thanks to Linda, she's really brought this horse to where he is. She's done a great job, and Tim as well. What a great package Tim and Linda are."
Heston Blue Chip paid $2.20 to win.
He is expected to compete in his division's Matron Stake next.
"They draw tomorrow so as long as he comes out of it good we're going to put him in," confirmed Toscano. "He's really sharp right now. He went up to the Breeders Crown and I think that little rest that he got [before that] when he went down to Kentucky has just jump started his battery a little bit. He has fresh legs right now and some of these other ones are really tired. They're great horses, but they're tired."
Two-year-old trotting colt Text Winner and driver Ron Pierce kicked off Sunday's Matron Stakes action with an upset victory in the first $159,675 event.
Pierce settled his colt into third while Sand Royal Blu (David Miller) worked his way to the lead from post four in the short field of five with one early breaker, clearing to command ahead of San Donato (John Campbell) at the :28.2 opening quarter mark.
Favourite Caveat Emptor (Tim Tetrick) began a first over attack from fourth as they neared the :59 half mile mark, but broke stride himself after making it up to second.
Pierce then sent Text Winner after the leader and battled head-to-head past the 1:28.2 third quarter station before drawing clear by two and three-quarter lengths down the lane. Text Winner prevailed in 1:56.3 for his second win in 13 career starts. Sand Royal Blu stayed for second and San Donato finished over 22 lengths back in third after a break in stride.
The Tom Ridge-Texas Winner colt is trained by Charlie Norris and owned and bred by Winning Key Inc. of Leechburg, Pennsylvania.
"I'm not taking any credit for that [win]," stated Pierce after the victory. "I just sat there. Charlie did a wonderful job getting him ready and set for this track. He was a really, really good time.
"He felt good when I scored him down and in the race he didn't want to give up the two-hole there. He wanted to race early," continued Pierce. "I was very surprised about that. He felt good all the way around there and Tim's horse made a break and then I let him trot a little bit going into the last turn and he charged home all the way to the wire. But like I said, Charlie did all the work, I just sat there."
Text Winner paid $26.60 to win as the longest shot on the board at odds of 12-1.
Royal Assets, driven by Tim Tetrick, swept by heavy favourite Time To Kill in the stretch to earn her first major stakes win in the $124,125 Matron for two-year-old trotting fillies after settling for runner-up honours for much of the season.
Ma Chere Hall (Corey Callahan) took the lead off the gate from post four and carved out opening fractions of :27.4 and :57 with second choice Royal Assets following in the two-hole.
As the field of five fillies raced down the backstretch, favourite Time To Kill (John Campbell) made her move from third. She moved up alongside the pacesetter and began to edge out in front by the 1:26 third quarter mark.
Time To Kill then drew off by two lengths into the stretch, but Tetrick showed Royal Assets open road and that filly took off, getting by the favourite for the one length victory in 1:55. Ma Chere Hall finished third.
Royal Assets paid $8.40 to win.
Following the race, Tetrick noted that the short-field "didn't hurt" and a perfect pocket trip worked to his filly's advantage.
"Luckily I got to squeeze out turning for home and follow John to the wire," he said. "My filly did a good job and got by her."
Raymond Schnittker trains and co-owns the Donato Hanover-Habits Lady filly with the Royal Assets Stable of Middletown, New York. She now sports a record reading 2-7-1 in 13 starts with earnings soaring to over $300,000.
"I'm glad she went out a winner this year," added Tetrick. "She's got pretty good money and it shows throughout the year, but she had to fight some tough two-year-old trotting fillies -- that filly of Takter's is pretty amazing and a few of the others. She's been knocking at the door all year and deserves the win."
Somwherovrarainbow pushed her stakes streak to six with a wire-to-wire win in the following $160,650 Matron for two-year-old pacing fillies.
Driven by Montrell Teague for his father trainer George Teague Jr., Somwherovrarainbow fired to the lead from post two forcing the leaving post six starter Live Entertainment (Yannick Gingras) into the pocket with a :26.3 opening panel.
Somwherovrarainbow proceeded to carve out middle fractions of :55 and 1:23 while turning back first over challenger Handsoffmycupcake (Dan Dube) and cruised to the wire in 1:51.3. Live Entertainment finished second with second over Uf Dragons Queen (David Miller) coming in third.
Somwherovrarainbow, this year's divisional Breeders Crown champion, paid $2.40 to win as the heavy 2-5 favourite.
"She's a nice filly to drive," said Montrell Teague after the win. "She's very versatile; you can put her on the front and race her from behind. She's just very easy to drive. We always thought she was going to be one of the best ones. She's bred to be the best so that's what we expected."
The daughter of former Horse of the Year award winners Somebeachsomewhere and Rainbow Blue is owned by George Teague Jr Inc. of Harrington, Delaware, K And R Racing LLC of Houston, Delaware and Theodore Gewertz of New York City, New York. She is now seven-for-11 this year with over $520,000 banked in purse earnings.
"I not so sure she's the next Rainbow Blue, but she seems to have some of the same traits so that's a good thing," commented the filly's trainer after the victory.
Personal Style turned in a dazzling 1:53.2 track record performance for three-year-old trotting fillies in the next $149,400 Matron while defeating slight favourite Win Missy B in rein to David Miller.
With the inner advantage, Cowgirl Hall (Tim Tetrick) pressed on to take the lead while Blue Yonder (Yannick Gingras) settled into second and the three-high Dorsay (Corey Callahan) broke stride early on. However, the parked out Win Missy B (Ron Pierce) rolled up to take over command at the :27.3 opening quarter mark while Superstar Hanover (Jimmy Takter Jr.) was left first over with Personal Style following her cover.
Win Missy B led the field to the half in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:24.2 while Personal Style rallied three-wide and confronted the leader into the final turn. The 6-5 second choice wore down the popular pacesetter into the stretch and then opened up a pair of lengths while shaving two-fifths of a second off the divisional track record. Win Missy B settled for second-place honours while Cowgirl Hall rounded out the top three finishers.
Personal Style paid $4.40 to win.
"Last week she was wound up and got a little jammed up, that's why she made the break [in the Matron elimination] and she got right back into it," explained Miller in a post-race interview. "She raced real good last week and she had a good week. We were pretty positive going into the race. Win Missy B is a great filly. Our filly has battled with all of them all year and she deserves a win like this."
The Yankee Glide-Foxy Victory miss is trained by Richard 'Nifty' Norman for owner Brittany Farms of Versailles, Kentucky and Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, Ont.
"Well Mel Hartman and 'Nifty' deserve all the credit on this filly," noted Brittany Farms' Myron Bell after the victory. "They came to us and they loved her. She had a great pedigree and Kentuckiana Farms bred her. She was a nice filly and here she is.
"This is a very good year for everybody that is connected to Brittany Farms so we're excited," he added.
This year's Hambletonian Oaks upsetter notched her fourth win of the season in 19 starts and pushed her bankroll to nearly $640,000.
Twilight Bonfire carried driver David Miller right back to the winner's circle after getting by favourite Dedis Dragon in deep stretch to claim the Matron title for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings.
Leaving from the outside post eight, Sunfire Blue Chip (Tim Tetrick) worked his way to command past the :26.4 opening quarter mark in the $165,975 stake. As he led the way to the half in :55.1, Dedis Dragon (Yannick Gingras) began his first over attack with Twilight Bonfire following his cover.
Dedis Dragon edged by the leader at the 1:23 mark while Miller sent his charge three-wide around the final turn. Dedis Dragon held a short lead coming into the stretch, but Twilight Bonfire surged by with the wire quickly approaching for the career-best 1:51 triumph. Dedis Dragon held second three-quarters of a length behind and Sir Carys Z Tam (Mike Lachance) finished third.
Twilight Bonfire, a Bluegrass Stakes winner in late-September, paid $10.80 to win a the 4-1 fourth choice in the field.
"I thought the horse would be good tonight and I just wanted to get away close," said Miller of his racing strategy. "I had planned on following Yannick and it worked out like it did. A couple of them left from the outside and I got to follow him right until the head of the stretch."
The son of The Panderosa out of Firelight Dancer is trained by Danny Collins and owned and bred by Robert Key of Leechburg, Pennsylvania. He now has three wins in 14 starts on his lifetime record with earnings climbing to more than $257,000.
Repeating the same feat as in last week's elimination round, Jimmy Takter trainees swept the top three spots in the $140,439 Matron for three-year-old trotting colts with Guccio leading the way over Uncle Peter and Little Brown Fox.
Little Brown Fox (Yannick Gingras) cleared to command over Uncle Peter during a :27-second opening panel with favourite Googoo Gaagaa (Corey Callahan) settling into the three-hole before moving back out to challenge first up.
Googoo Gaagaa moved underway at the :56.3 half-mile mark with Guccio and Takter following his cover after getting away fifth. However, Googoo Gaagaa began to back away past the 1:24.2 third quarter mark. Guccio moved three-wide around that foe and charged after his leading stablemate.
Down the stretch, Little Brown Fox was confronted on both sides by his barn buddies with Guccio getting up to score the victory in 1:53. Uncle Peter zipped up the inside to place over Little Brown Fox.
Guccio paid $7.60 to win for the fourth time in 17 seasonal starts.
"It worked out to be a pretty good trip," said Takter following the victory. "Mike [Lachance and My Mvp] was in and out a little bit [in fourth-place]. I didn't realize he didn't have the power to pull with Googoo Gaagaa there. It worked out really good for me; I got to follow cover until the middle of the turn. My other two horses had to do a little more work, I just had a little more left in the end than them."
The Yankee Glide-Southern Senorita colt is owned by Christina Takter of East Windsor, New Jersey, Toronto's John and Jim Fielding, and Falkbolagen Ab of Allentown, New Jersey.
Guccio, who has earned the bulk of his bankroll this year, lifted his earnings over the $800,000 plateau with the victory.
"He had a lot of issues as a two-year-old," explained Takter of the colt who stepped up to hit the board in the Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic this year. "Mentally, he didn't know how to put his act together. This year things worked out really well for him. He lost most of them [the big races] by a head. I screwed up in the Futurity and gave him a really bad drive there and I think he was sharp enough he could have won that race. In Canada he had a little problem up in the Breeders Crown [breaking stride]. The surface was on and off for him and I changed the shoes for the final and it was the wrong call. The horse is a good horse. He's real strong and I'm really happy with him."
Darena Hanover delivered on her 3-5 pari-mutuel promise with a wire-to-wire score in the final $123,939 Matron of the night for three-year-old pacing fillies.
With the inside post advantage, Darena Hanover and driver Yannick Gingras grabbed the lead and carved out fractions of :26.4, :55 and 1:22.4 en route to the 1:50.4 triumph. She held on by a nose to win over pocket-sitter Marty Party (Ron Pierce), who closed up the inside along with third-place finisher Shelliscape (John Campbell).
The Yankee Cruiser-Dashaway Hanover is owned by trainer Ron Burke's Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, Pennsylvania. This year's Jugette champion now boasts a record reading 8-6-2 in 20 seasonal starts while her career bankroll soared past the half-million dollar mark.
"American Jewel and Romantic Moment might have a little step on her, but she's overachieved all year," said Gingras in a post-race interview. "Ronnie's done a great job with her. If he had told me that she would be this kind of filly when the season started I would have said no that's impossible, but he's done a great job with her and she performed well tonight."
Darena Hanover paid $3.40 to win.