After sweeping the preliminary rounds in their respective divisions, First State Joni and Blue Devil both stood up to odds-on billing in Thursday's $400,000 culmination of the Delaware Standardbred Breeders' Fund series for three-year-olds on Thursday at Dover Downs.
First State Joni ($2.80), who delivered pillar-to-post wins in both of his preliminary splits and also won the Harrington DSBF final earlier this season, took a lifetime mark of 1:54 in the $100,000 DSBF final for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings.
Subban and Henrico showed the quickest turn of foot when the gate sprung, but driver Barton Dalious gunned First State Joni through at the pegs to secure the lead midway on the first turn. First State Joni worked through a :26.4 first quarter to assert his position as the 2-5 favourite, but once in control, it was smooth sailing for the Delmarvalous-Jonigold colt. After rating middle splits of :56.2 and 1:24.2, First State Joni edged clear to defeat pocket rival Subban (Montrell Teague) by 2-1/2 lengths. Downtown Show (Allan Davis) held third, another two lengths behind, after a failed first-over bid into the far turn.
W. Bart Dalious trains eight-time winner First State Joni, who has now earned $174,824 for owner-breeder The Wiz Kids Stable LLC.
In the $100,000 three-year-old male trot final, 4-5 favourite Blue Devil ($3.80) and Montrell Teague used the entire first turn to clear from post seven, overtaking Bluestone Jackson at the end of a :28.1 quarter. Bluestone Jackson broke stride shortly after yielding, enabling even-money second choice Big Al M to inherit the pocket, but Blue Devil remained stoutly in control through a well-rated :59.2 half.
Up the backstretch, the sophomore Anders Bluestone-Overnight Hit gelding withstood a stern first-over challenge from Vlahos, who pushed the tempo to three-quarters in 1:28.3. Blue Devil remained resolute, shrugging off his outside foe and evading Big Al M (Eric Davis) by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:57.4. Vlahos (Tim Tetrick) faded to third.
Adrian Wisher trains Blue Devil, whom Art Stafford, Jr. bred, for Elite Harness Racing LLC. The six-time winner has now amassed $136,976 in career earnings.
Both $100,000 filly finals saw their respective winners carry their momentum forward from victories in the second preliminary round.
Tobago Time ($11.20) clocked the fastest DSBF final with a 1:53.4 score in the filly pace, and she shaved four-fifths of a second off her lifetime mark with her ninth career victory.
Allan Davis landed the Tobago Cays-Time Frame N filly in the pocket behind 11-1 pacesetter Cinders Baby, and drafted behind splits of :27.3, :57.1 and 1:25 before angling her off the pegs with three-sixteenths to go. Tobago Time responded immediately, surging to the lead and evading 1-5 choice Littlebagoftricks (Dexter Dunn) by a length. Cinders Baby (Ross Wolfenden) faded to third after giving way.
Chuck Crissman, Jr. trains the earner of $198,172 for the partnership of Glenn Phillips and breeder David Hamm.
In the filly trot, Whitesville Beulah ($7.20) controlled fractions of :28, :58.3 and 1:27.2 before holding off a late charge from Kims Command by a neck in 1:57.2. K J Diamond finished third. Art Stafford, Jr. drove the victorious Anders Bluestone-Whitesville Tara filly for owner-trainer-breeder Gary White.
A trio of $15,000 consolations served as undercard events. Archie And Emerson ($2.80, Dunn, 1:53.4) won the male pace, Rowdy One (Victor Kirby, 1:58.2) won the filly pace and Altar Call (Barton Dalious, 2:00) won the male trot.
(Delaware Standardbred Breeders' Fund)