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Pelling Proteges Prolific In Kindergarten

Published: November 7, 2021 12:52 am ET

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Trainer Brett Pelling has a strong pair of two-year-olds heading into next week’s Kindergarten Classic Series Finals, as his Treacherous Dragon and Hammering Hank recorded easy victories Saturday night (Nov. 6) during the series fifth and final leg at The Meadowlands.

In a split for filly pacers, Treacherous Dragon — one week removed from a third-place finish in the Breeders Crown Final taken by division standout Niki Hill — was away from the gate in anything but a hurry, as driver Tim Tetrick opted to sit fourth while Find Happiness led at the quarter in :27.2 before 3-1 second choice Always Gonna B You took over at the half in :55.3.

Ever patient, Tetrick waited until just after the five-eighths-mile mark to move the daughter of Captaintreacherous-My Little Dragon off the rail. Treacherous Dragon then picked up cover from the pocket-popping Find Happiness on the far turn before tipping wide as they straightened up before cruising to a safe head win in 1:52. Find Happiness was second with Counterparty Risk third.

“I was pretty aggressive with her last week and wanted to come off a helmet this time,” said Tetrick. “She finished up well. I thought that [Find Happiness] might pull in front of me.”

What about the finish, when Find Happiness was closing in nearing the wire?

“My mare waits on them,” said Tetrick. “She was just messing around.”

Treacherous Dragon returned $2.40 to win as the heavy 1-5 public choice in raising her record to four wins from eight lifetime starts.

Hammering Hank, fourth in the Crown a week ago to Monte Miki, was handled with care by driver Dexter Dunn, who had the gelded son of Captaintreacherous-History Repeats sitting fourth early in a dash for male pacers.

Dunn then had Hammering Hank in a live flow third-over to the head of the stretch before sailing by his foes while pacing a final quarter in :27.1 to record a lifetime-best 1:51.2 win. He’s won seven times in his career, with his only two losses coming to Monte Miki. He finished three-quarters-of-a-length in front of Captain Cowboy with Macs Marvel grabbing third.

“He has extremely high speed,” said Dunn. “His run in the Breeders Crown last week was awesome, and tonight, he was doing it pretty easy in the stretch.”

Hammering Hank returned $2.60 to his backers as the 1-5 favorite as his record remained unblemished in three Kindergarten starts.

Pelling is feeling good about his chances in next week’s Kindergarten Finals, which will offer four dashes for freshmen of each sex and gait, which, depending on if the consolations fill, could go for purses totaling $1 million.

“Treacherous Dragon has always been very, very good,” said Pelling. “She knows what she’s doing and is a very smart girl. Hammering Hank? We actually haven’t seen his speed yet. He’s pretty cool.

“I would never have raced either horse this week [since they raced a week ago in the Breeders Crown]. But the point leaders in the Kindergarten automatically draw well [posts 1 through 5] so I decided to race both so that next week, they come back with inside posts.”

For the final Kindergarten point standings, go to The Meadowlands website.

A LITTLE MORE: McKee Memorial winner Catch The Fire ($3.40 as the public choice) won a cutthroat stretch duel with Let It Ride N to take the $36,000 Winners Over $50,000 Lifetime pace in 1:50.

Dunn drove five winners on the card, matching Todd McCarthy’s Friday feat. McCarthy nipped Dunn after taking the Saturday finale, winning seven races during the weekend to Dunn’s six.

With a sixth-race total pool of $382,199 serving as the catalyst, all-source wagering totaled $2,867,925 to push total action for the weekend past the $5-million mark.

Racing resumes Friday (Nov. 12) at 6:20 p.m. (EDT).

(The Meadowlands)

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