Shake It Cerry, the Dan Patch Award-winning freshman filly trotter of 2013, kicked off her three-year-old campaign successfully Saturday at The Meadows by winning a division of a $199,400 Pennsylvania Sire Stake.
Nitro Nittany captured the other split in the stake known as the Stenographer.
There were reasons to be concerned about the season’s debut of Shake It Cerry. She closed last year with a flourish, sweeping the Breeders Crown, the Matron and the Goldsmith Maid, but she hadn’t raced since Nov. 30. Intermittent showers turned the track sloppy, seldom a plus for 3-5 favourites, and she was parked the opening quarter in :27.4 by an ambitious Take The Money, who won three straight in the Weiss Series at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Ron Pierce said he briefly considered looking for a seat for the champion, but instead pursued the lead.
“I was debating in the first turn whether I should go to the two-hole or go to the top,” Pierce said. “But you know what? She wasn’t working hard. She was just sitting there. She felt extremely powerful.”
Once on top, Shake It Cerry was much the best — Pierce never popped the plugs or moved the whip — and scored in 1:55.3. Take The Money finished two lengths back in second, with Struck By Lindy third.
Jimmy Takter, who trains the daughter of Donato Hanover-Solveig for Solveig’s Racing Partners, said he was satisfied with her performance.
“It’s a cold day and a lousy track, but she’s a champion,” said Takter of Shake It Cerry, who has won nine of 12 starts and $877,519 in her career. “She was such a wonderful horse last year you just try to keep her on the right path. I’m really happy with how she’s come back. Nature will take its course, and they’ll get stronger. She’s the whole package.”
Nitro Nittany had the more eventful journey after leaving awkwardly and resisting Howard Parker’s efforts to settle her.
“She got a little rough leaving, so we had to change tactics,” Parker said. “She got a little anxious, and rather than taking a chance on choking her or having her break, I thought I’d give her a chance to do what she thought she could do. And she did it.”
Out nearly the entire mile, Nitro Nittany wore down the leader, Lifetime Pursuit, and prevailed in 1:55.3, three and three-quarter lengths better than the ground-saving Tweet Me. Global Magic earned show.
Nitro Nittany won the PA Stallions Series championship at two, and trainer Jim Raymer said it always was his intention to promote the rangy daughter of Explosive Matter-Miss Nittany to the sires stakes this year.
“She wasn’t the soundest last year, and then there’s the size of her,” Raymer said. “She was this size last year; she’s just filled out more. She probably could have gone in 1:54 last year, but if she had, she might not have raced this year.”
Harbor Racing Stable owns Nitro Nittany, a $20,000 yearling acquisition.
Next up for Shake It Cerry and Nitro Nittany is the Historic–Coaching Club Oaks at Pocono.
Tony Hall drove four winners on the 12-race Preakness Day card.