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Matron Mania At Dover Downs

Published: November 6, 2014 8:03 pm ET

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The stars were out in full force Thursday evening at Dover Downs as the Delaware oval hosted finals of the Matron Stakes for two- and three-year-old pacers and trotters.

Nuncio made it five wins in a row, grabbing the lead before the second turn and never yielding the position on his way to a three-quarter length victory over Harper Blue Chip in 1:54.1 in the $200,350 Matron Stakes for three-year-old male trotters at Dover Downs.

Hillustrious charged from near the rear of the field through the stretch to finish third. Father Patrick, the 1-2 favourite, went off stride soon after the start and was not a factor.

Starting from post eight, Nuncio was second to Harper Blue Chip in the opening quarter-mile, but took the lead as the horses passed the grandstand for the first time. Nuncio, driven by John Campbell, was the 6-5 second choice.

“I didn’t realize (Father Patrick made a break); I was concentrating on my horse and just keeping him to his task,” Campbell said.

Nuncio has won 11 of 16 races this year, including two jewels in the Trotting Triple Crown, the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot, and earned $1.39 million. He is owned by Stall TZ Inc. and trained by Jimmy Takter.

For his career, the son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle has won 16 of 26 starts and never finished worse than second.

“He’s certainly one of the most consistent (horses) that I’ve been around,” Campbell said. “He just goes out and does his work. We had a little trouble last year sometimes rating him, but even when he was like that, he still was hard to beat.

“Jimmy worked with him, especially training down (this year) and made sure he came from behind all the time, and now he’s just turned into a professional where I can do whatever I want with him.”

Nuncio also won the 2013 Matron Stakes for two-year-old male trotters.

“He gets around any sized track,” Campbell said. “When he’s come down here, he gets around it fine. He’s a horse that races good up near the front, and that works well here too.”

Big Boy Dreams made a three-wide move around the final turn and took advantage of fast early fractions to win the $186,550 Matron Stakes for three-year-old male pacers by 2-1/2 lengths over Capital Account in 1:50.3. Mcwicked finished third.

Sent off at odds of 24-1, Big Boy Dreams’ win coupled with 99-1 Capital Account’s second-place finish triggered a $2 exacta payout of $2,188.40 and trifecta of $9,114.80.

Lyonssomewhere, Luck Be Withyou, and All Bets Off mixed it up in the early going, resulting in the leaders reaching the opening quarter-mile in :25.3, half in :52.4 and three-quarters in 1:21.2.

Big Boy Dreams and driver Ron Pierce followed Jet Airway, who finished fourth, three wide up the backstretch as he began his charge from seventh place to the front.

In the Monument Circle on Oct. 31 at Hoosier Park, Big Boy Dreams was on the lead in a first quarter of :26 on a “good” track and eventually finished eighth.

“Last week, the weather was horrible, kind of like it is now, and the front end got tortured and he was part of it,” winning trainer Ron Burke said. “This week, he went back and one of my other horses (All Bets Off) got tortured and this horse swept them from the back and raced super.”

Big Boy Dreams has won five of 12 races this year and earned $261,770. The son of If I Can Dream-Stefani Blue Chip is owned by Dominick Rosato.

Jimmy Takter-trained Shake It Cerry went to the lead in the opening quarter-mile and cruised to a 2-1/4 length win in the $160,950 Matron Stakes for three-year-old female trotters. The time of 1:52.4 over a surface rated as “good” was a stakes and track record. Lifetime Pursuit, also trained by Takter, finished second and Cee Bee Yes was third.

“She’s very special, extremely special,” driver Ron Pierce said about Shake It Cerry, who was the 2-5 favourite. “She’s got the heart, she has the speed, the gait -- she has everything it takes.”

Shake It Cerry has won 14 of 16 races this season, including eight in a row since finishing fourth in the Hambletonian Oaks, and earned $980,411. The daughter of Donato Hanover-Solveig is owned by Solveig’s Racing Partners.

Weeper took the early lead, yielded to 1-5 favourite Act Now prior to the half, and then burst through the passing lane to register a 1-1/4 length victory over Uffizi Hanover in 1:51 in the $179,200 Matron Stakes for three-year-old female pacers. Major Dancer finished third.

Ron Pierce drove Weeper, who was 9-2, for trainer Kelly O’Donnell and ended the night with three Matron wins.

“He did the right thing,” O’Donnell said about Pierce. “She stepped out of there in :25.4 and got around the (early traffic) and then she was just running that other filly over around the last turn.”

Weeper, a daughter of Allamerican Native-Pleasant Yet Bad, has won eight of 15 races this year and earned $424,561. She is owned by Bay Pond Racing Stable.

In The Arsenal fired early, taking the lead from longshot Lyons Levi Lewis as the field came off the first turn, and never looked back on his way to winning the $193,200 Matron Stakes for two-year-old male pacers by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51 over a track rated 'good'. Lyons Levi Lewis, sent off at odds of 99-1, finished second and Bet You was third.

The victory by In The Arsenal and driver Brian Sears snapped a Matron Stakes win streak by driver Yannick Gingras, who won the night’s three prior stakes events for the two-year-old trotters and pacers.

“He’s got a lot of go, a real big engine,” Sears said about In The Arsenal. “He’s a little green at times, he’s a little ornery, but he’s starting to figure it out.

“He really wants to throw it in gear and you’ve just got to try to ration him out a little bit. Sometimes he fights you a little bit, but lately he’s been able to understand what we’re trying to accomplish out there.”

In The Arsenal (American Ideal-Ladyotra), who was the 7-5 favourite in the Matron, has won six of nine races and $268,318 for trainer Kelvin Harrison and owner White Birch Farm. It was In The Arsenal’s fourth consecutive triumph.

Sassa Hanover led a sweep of the top three spots by trainer Ron Burke in the $199,600 Matron Stakes for two-year-old female pacers, besting Bettor N Better by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:52.3. Well Hello There finished third.

Starting from post eight, Sassa Hanover and driver Yannick Gingras pushed to the front in an opening quarter-mile of :26.2. They repelled the first-over challenge of Ideal Nuggets at the halfway point and cruised to victory at 3-1 odds.

A daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven-Sayo Hanover, the filly has won nine of 11 races and earned $354,341. She is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, The Panhellenic Stable Corp, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Larry Karr.

“I had my options open; I knew I wasn’t going to get away last,” Gingras said after starting his night with three consecutive wins in the Matron Stakes events. “I left the gate and it looked like they were crossing over pretty easily up front, so I decided the move to make was to go for the front.”

Habitat moved from second on the pylons to the outside coming off the final turn and won the $237,500 Matron Stakes for two-year-old male trotters by a half-length over Muscle Diamond in 1:54.2. Cruzado Dela Noche, who led for much of the race, finished third.

Yannick Gingras drove Habitat, the 2-1 second choice to favourite Uncle Lasse, for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.

A son of Conway Hall-Habits Best, the colt has won seven of 11 races and earned $491,907.

“He’s a very consistent colt, he does everything well,” Burke said. “Last (start), he kind of bounced (in the Valley Victory). We were a little disappointed; he was a short third. I was glad to see Yannick get covered up today and get a chance to get a trip. He’s solid. He’ll be very competitive in the Breeders Crown. He’s having a very good year so far.”

Wild Honey won the $203,800 Matron Stakes for two-year-old female trotters by a half-length over Bright Baby Blues in 1:55.2. Smexi finished third.

The start of the race, the first on the card, was delayed 32 minutes because of stormy weather and the track was downgraded from good to sloppy.

Sent off at odds of 1-9, Wild Honey and driver Yannick Gingras took the lead from post seven on the opening turn and were unthreatened the rest of the way.

Wild Honey has won nine of 10 races and $427,203 for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and Jim Fielding. A daughter of Cantab Hall-U Wanna Lindy, she is unbeaten since losing by a head in her career debut.

“She’s just a fantastic horse,” Takter said. “This is not ideal weather conditions, but it looked like she was on cruise control in this mile.

(Harness Racing Communications)

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