Rojas Blue Chip Doubles In Polar Express Series

Published: December 10, 2022 09:38 pm EST

Fairgrounds-based trainer-driver Mike Stevenson captured another $5,000 preliminary of the Polar Express Late Closing Series with Rojas Blue Chip on Saturday (Dec. 10) at Cumberland Raceway and now leads the pack for the $12,000 final next week. 

Scoring from post five, Stevenson hustled the five-year-old daughter of American Ideal to the front and didn’t look back. Tripping the timer in 2:00.3, the duo prevailed over Bet On Success by half a length. Dansan Carruso finished third.

Owned by David Del Pozzo, Rojas Blue Chip paid $2.80 to win her eighth race of the season and was the favourite in the betting.

In the second $5,000 preliminary, favourite Amarettigone, driven by Kevin Switzer Jr., went on a wire-to-wire tour of the iconic Maine oval, winning by 2-1/4 lengths in 2:01. Sunset Over Miami finished second and Celebrate Your Bet was third.

An eight-year-old daughter of Real Desire, Amarettigone paid $4.80 to win for owner Patricia Moody-D'Angelo. It was the mare’s 33rd victory.

The top eight money-winning horses from the two Polar Express preliminaries (that enter) will compete in the final on Saturday, Dec. 17. Rojas Blue Chip was the only horse to win both of her preliminaries, with Amarettigone and Baileys Legacy both winning one.

The featured $5,800 Open 4 Pace was captured by classy veteran Lucan Hanover in 1:57.4 in remarkable fashion. Leaving from post five with driver-trainer-owner Aaron Hall aboard, the 12-year-old son of Western Ideal got shuffled back to sixth and was over 12 lengths from the front at the :28.3 opening panel set by a front-stepping Oceanview Echo.

As the strung-out field passed the half in :59.1, Lucan Hanover found cover and advanced steadily toward the headstrong leader. Moving toward the 1:28.1 three-quarters, Lucan Hanover closed the gap considerably and sat comfortably in the two-hole while Nagle challenged the leader who came back to reality.

Rounding the turn for home, Lucan Hanover rolled three-wide and set his sights on the middle of the racetrack, gobbling the homestretch with every stride. At the wire, the odds-on favourite got up by half a length. Nagle finished second and Oceanview Echo hung on gamely to be third.

Lucan Hanover is owned and trained by Aaron Hall, who also steered him to his 64th score. He paid $3.60 to win.

Top reinsman Bruce Ranger enjoyed three victories on the late-morning, early-afternoon program.

Racing resumes Sunday (Dec. 11) with three $6,000 elimination legs of the Polar Express Late Closing Series. In the first division, two of last week’s victors, Swellendam (driven by Kevin Switzer Jr.) and Commondiscourtesy (Drew Campbell), look for a repeat performance.

In the second division, Nets Of Passion is the 5-2 favourite, along with Touch Of Character. Both look to make the final after second-place finishes last week.

In the third and final division, another pair of last week’s winners — Twin B Impressive and Sports Teen — seek victory.  

Every race has a 50-cent trifecta and the final race of each day will feature a 20-cent pentafecta.

The popular Au Revior Retirement Showcase for 14-year-old Standardbreds is slated for Saturday (Dec. 17) and boasts 18 total participants with one Geriatric Pace event scheduled with a full field of soon-to-be retirees.

The extended pari-mutuel harness racing meet runs through Dec. 24 with first-race post at 11 a.m. (EST) each day. 

(First Tracks Cumberland)

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