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Big Names Return In Friday Qualifiers

Published: April 13, 2012 8:36 pm ET

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Many of the 2011 harness racing stars were back to work this morning in qualifying sessions across the border.

The Meadows

Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final champion Apogee Hanover made her sophomore qualifying debut a winning one with a 15 and a half length tally. With trainer and owner Roger Hammer in the sulky, the Jeremes Jet-Aurora Seelster miss pulled the pocket after the :28.2 opening quarter and began to draw away from the field through fractions of :57 and 1:25.1 before stopping the teletimer in 1:53.2.

Delcrest Julian, who put an end to divisional champion Daylon Magician's late season winning streak in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event in October last year, won his four-year-old debut in rein to Dave Palone for new trainer Ron Burke and owner Terry Hunter of Cambridge, Ont. The Oaklea Julian-Stars Balance bay advanced to the lead from third and laid down middle fractions of 1:00 and 1:28 en route to an eight and a quarter length score in 1:57.

Multiple stakes winner Destinys Chance, also driven by Palone for Burke, crossed over from the outside seven-post and cruised past panels of :29, :59.2, and 1:29.1 before drawing away by three and a quarter lengths for the 1:57.2 score in her sophomore debut. Randy Ringer's Four Starzz Shark-Four Starz Sands filly won the Matron Stake and divisions of the Bluegrass Series, Circle City and Standardbred Stake, and was runner-up in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Championship in her freshman season.

Burke Racing Stable's $800,000-plus earner Hugadragon, driven by Palone, clocked a 1:56.2 mile in his four-year-old opener, finishing three lengths behind the pacesetting Hickory Big Red. The Dragon Again-Hip Huggers gelding sat third through fractions of :28.4, :58.4, and 1:27.4 before improving one position in the 1:55.4 mile. His sophomore season included wins in the Bluegrass Series, Tattersalls Pace, Monument Circle, and Matron Stake.

Ohio Sires Stakes champion Count Me In trotted to a four and a half length 1:59.2 victory in his second sophomore qualifier for trainer-driver Marty Wollam. The Full Count-Howl gelding, who equalled the 1:58 track record at Delaware Ohio County Fair in the Ohio Breeders Championship as a freshman, is owned by breeder Patricia Wollam and Acadia Farms Inc.

Yonkers Raceway

During Yonkers Raceway's qualifiers, Kentucky Sires Stakes Final winner Bold The Duer, who was just one of two colts to defeat Sweet Lou last year in a division of the and Bluegrass Series, turned in a 1:55.1 winning effort in his season's debut with Mark MacDonald at the lines. The three-year-old Ponder-Wonder Bolt colt carved out fractions of :28.4, :58.1, and 1:28.1 before opening up five and a quarter lengths. Peter Foley trains the bay for All Star Racing Inc.

Meadowlands Racetrack

Another colt that competed against Sweet Lou last season was the Joe Holloway-trained Escape The News, who also took to the track for his first qualifier at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The International Stallion Stakes winner and driver David Miller got away sixth during a :28-second opening quarter and advanced first up through middle splits of :58 and 1:26.4 before sprinting home in :26.1 to win his qualifier in 1:54 by a neck over fellow Pepsi North America Cup eligible Rockweiller, driven by Yannick Gingras for Ron Burke. Escape The News, and Artiscape-Ideal News gelding owned by Brittany Farms and Val Dor Farms, is ranked eighth in Trot Magazine's Spring Book at 22-1. Rockweiller, owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and JJK Stables LLC, has been assessed at odds of 45-1 in the Spring Book.

Michaels Power, also eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup, won his first qualifier of the season in 1:54.4 with Eric Goodell in the bike. The 65-1 Spring Book gelding followed Verdad through fractions of :28.4, :58.3, and 1:28.4 before sprinting home in :25.4 for the one and a half length score. The three-year-old Camluck-Michells Jackpot gelding, who won two of three starts as a freshman, is now trained by Andrew Harris for owner-breeder Jeffrey Snyder.

New York Sire Stakes champion filly For A Dancer, driven by Jeff Gregory and trained by Holloway for Bluestone Farms, clocked a 1:56.3 mile today behind Burke trainee Shanty Irish and Gingras after winning in 1:57.2 during last week's session. Lima Playmate, winner of all but one of her NYSS legs for trainer Ray Schnittker and co-owner Lima Playmate Stb, finished third in her return appearance after being scratched from the Breeders Crown.

Matron Stake champion Pekoe Fashion turned in his second straight qualifying win in rein to David Miller for trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms. The Broadway Hall-Orange Pekoe colt raced past panels of :28.3, :58.3, and 1:28.2 en route to a 1:56.4 score by half a length over Broadway Zinger.

Invitational trotter Likeabatoutahell and trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer trailed his five-horse affair through a :28.1 first quarter and had only the breaker beat through stations of :57 and 1:26.3, but came home in :27.1 to win by one length in 1:55 over Elegantimage champion Beatgoeson Hanover, driven by David Miller for trainer Richard 'Nifty' Norman and owner Neven Botica. The nine-year-old Sjs Caviar-Miss Molly Tamale gelding, who was making his second qualifying start since last racing in early June of 2011, is owned and bred by Michael Andrew.

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