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Aquarius Stakes Record For Southwestern Dream

southwesterndreamaquariusfinal1.jpg

Published: February 21, 2009 10:58 pm ET

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In a stunning victory, Southwestern Dream established stakes records for the fastest mile [1:49.4] and highest payoff [$108] in the $84,000 Aquarius, one of three stakes finals contested Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

Southwestern Dream [$108, $29.80, $10.40] drafted behind Lucky Man who fired to the front in a :26.3 opening panel, then followed Proper Respect as he pressured the leader down the backstretch. As Proper Respect faded after the sizzling :53 half, driver John Campbell and Southwestern Dream rushed up to take on Lucky Man. The pair matched strides through three-quarters in 1:20.4 until Southwestern Dream finally gained the advantage in the stretch. Campbell urged Southwestern Dream on and he gamely held off the late rally of Riggins [$3.00, $2.10] for a neck victory, supplanting the previous stakes clocking by 3/5 of a second. Bettor Sweet [$3.20] swung three-wide on the final turn and closed to finish 1-3/4 lengths behind them in third.

"I just couldn't hold him in the hole," Campbell said. "He got uncontrollable in the backstretch and I had to move him out and he was just extremely game. We changed his bridle and he definitely took it seriously. We just need to get him to settle a little more in the first part of the mile. It was a tough race. He was 50-1 so I wasn't expecting anything to go our way, but I didn't have any choice. I was going to get in trouble if I stayed in the hole.

"At the head of the stretch, I was surprised how good he felt there," Campbell continued. "I knew I was going to get a piece of it, because even at the head of stretch, he still felt strong and he responded when I spoke to him. The last 1/8 he was just dead game. He's got the ability, obviously, but we just have to get him a little better to manage. If he can sit in and relax and follow cover, I think he's got a real good chance to step up."

Southwestern Dream, trained by Bruce Saunders, has now won 11 of 30 starts and $255,512. Frank Bellino of Bronxville, New York owns the four-year-old Cambest gelding.

In the Exit 16W Final, it was Camshaft Hanover and driver Dan Dube upsetting odds-on Rocknroll Band by a hard-fought half-length.

Reserved off a quick early pace set by the 4-5 favourite, Camshaft Hanover [$42.60, $9.80, $8.00] raced third-over on the far turn, but rallied strongly to pass Rocknroll Band [$2.60, $2.20] in the shadow of the wire. Frankyluvsmeatbals [$10.80] rallied late for third.

The final time of 1:50.3 matched a lifetime mark for the four-year-old David Pinkney, Jr. trainee.

Despite being a little rough-gaited in the stretch, Camshaft Hanover ran his last quarter in an impressive :27.3 to wear-down Rocknroll Band, who was looking for the series sweep.

After the race, Dube said he was very pleased with his horse's stretch kick.

"I was about third or fourth over [on the far turn] and he was flying," Dube said. "He was going so fast, thank god he stayed flat. He doesn't know were the wire is, he just keeps coming all the time."

It was the ninth lifetime win for Camshaft Hanover who pushed his career earnings over $120,000 for owner Ian Smith of Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Earlier in the evening, Hypnotic Blue Chip [$4.60, $3.20, $2.60] lowered the stakes record to 1:51.2 in the $82,500 Junior Trendsetter Final for three-year-old colt pacers.

Hypnotic Blue Chip had to move three-wide around Im So Blue to clear the lead from In Over My Head in a swift :55.3 half. From there, he pulled away to a five-length victory in rein to Tim Tetrick. He eclipsed the previous record of 1:52 set by Jennas Choice in 2005. Glad To Be Back [$4.40, $3.40] rallied from fourth-over to finish second, while In Over My Head [$15.40] held third.

"I planned on racing him from off the pace, but the front is holding up good tonight," Tetrick said. "I had to be first up, I felt, because I got away fourth. I just went ahead and moved him to the front. I made this race win or lose, and he won. They made a little bridle change tonight, which I think made him even better and the horse really responded well. I was glad he [Glad To Be Back] didn't make the front because last week when he made the front, he made it a whole different kind of race. When [Glad To Be Back] got caught back with the bad post, I made my move and luckily he wasn't very close to me."

Hypnotic Blue Chip [Art Major-A Traceofmagic] was a $75,000 yearling purchase at the 2007 Standardbred Horse Sale by trainer Mark Harder and co-owners Deena Rachel Frost of Delray Beach Florida, Stable 45 of Hauppauge, New York and Bob Murphy of Surrey, B.C.

The $35,000 Invitational Pace also added some excitement to the night with a thrilling stretch drive and a four-horse photo finish. With Ron Pierce in the driver’s seat, Winbak Speed [$6.20, $3.80, $3.40] managed to prevail by a head for the win in 1:50.4. Soul Chaser [$5.60, $4.80] was the runner-up with Toucam Sam [$3.60] and Maltese Artist finishing third and fourth.

The six-year-old son of Village Jove scored his fifth win in six starts this season and bumped his bankroll to $156,250 for trainer and co-owner Melvin Wayne Givens and his partner Niel Gargiulo of Milford, Delaware. Winbak Speed has earned over $500,000 in his career with 25 victories.

To view Saturday’s results, click here.

(With files from NJSEA)


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