The backers of 2-5 favourite Always B Naughty got a bit of a scare as the filly made an early stretch break in the $14,400 featured pace at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, but she caught stride quickly and surged to win in 1:51.2 while recording her fourth straight victory.
The daughter of Always B Miki was parked much of a :27 opening stanza, then yielded the lead to Southwind Bella in front of the stands en route to a :54.4 half. 'Bella' got stern first-over pressure from Ginger Tree Coco to and past a 1:23.1 three-quarters while Always B Naughty and driver Yannick Gingras were waiting for inside space. Just as the sophomore cleared to the inside, she went offgait for a couple of steps, but rebounded quickly and paced away to a 1-1/4-length victory over Ginger Tree Coco, who in turn was a neck ahead of Southwind Bella.
The judges reviewed the videotape of the stretch incident but did not place Always B Naughty for any rule violation, with the winner running her lifetime total to 7-5-2-0 for trainer Nancy Takter, who is also co-owner with J L Benson Stables Inc. and R B H Ventures Inc.
David Miller was top driver on the Thursday Philly card, coming back to the winner's circle four times.
The morning line favourites for the three $100,000 Invitationals that will be held at Philly this “Super Sunday” at 12:40 p.m. are Racine Bell in the Betsy Ross Pace for distaffs, Hillexotic in the Maxie Lee Trot and Lochinvar Art A in the Joseph Auger Pace. They will join with Pennsylvania-sired sophomore colts and many other fast horses in what is one of the best cards in North America in 2023 so far, with more than $600,000 in purses on the line. Program pages for all Philly cards, including the Super Sunday program, will be available on the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association website.
(With files from PHHA/Harrah’s Philadelphia; Photo of Always B Naughty winning the SRF Series at The Meadowlands)