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'Wakizashi' Takes Mark In All-Stars

Published: May 9, 2015 10:56 pm ET

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Driver Jim Morrill Jr. took the first two divisions of the $96,000 Pennsylvania All-Stars event for three-year-old colt pacers on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, putting new lifetime marks two colts before missing the 'sweep' by a nose with the third.

Wakizashi Hanover, an altered son of Dragon Again trained by Joanne Looney-King for the Tri County Stable of Truro, Nova Scotia, kept his seasonal tally perfect in two starts in winning by one and a quarter lengths in 1:50.2. 'Wakizashi' took the early lead in :27, saw first 2014 PA Sire Stakes champion Yankee Bounty and then Dragon Eddy brush by him to the :54.3 half, which necessitated his moving first-over ahead of the oncoming Cardiac Fashion, who already had skirted trouble at two points in the mile. The winner took the lead past the 1:22 three-quarters, with Yankee Bounty vacating the collapsing pocket when Cardiac Fashion tipped wide, but Wakizashi Hanover already had the jump, with Yankee Bounty able to clear back to the winner’s inside to edge Cardiac Fashion by a neck for second. Wakizashi Hanover is eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup and has been assessed at odds of 28-1 in Trot Magazine's Spring Book.

Blood Brother paced his own last half in :54 flat to be up by a neck in 1:51 over a stubborn Rufo in the second cut. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding was taken off the gate and was rambunctious back in fifth as Joe Hill and Rufo were the prime disputers in the :26.4 opener, and was still seven lengths behind at the :55.3 half. Morrill had to take the uncovered route as Rufo was going unchallenged on the lead, and had gained to within three lengths by the 1:23.2 three-quarters. Taking the far turn very well, Blood Brother showed great ability to go up by a neck over his rival in early stretch, but Rufo never let the margin get bigger than that as he put up a fierce struggle down the lane. The talented winner still looks like he’ll learn from (and improve with) more racing, and with Jimmy Takter training him for Diamond Creek Racing and the J&T Silva Stables LLC, it seems likely he’ll build on his two-for-two 2015 start.

Morrill had Allbeef N Nobull on top twice before the three-eighths in the third cut, but the deck reshuffles more on the Pocono racetrack than it does in the casino, and after the :26.3 quarter Rise Up Now and driver Allard were following their main rival to the top, hitting the half in :55.2 and the three-quarters in 1:23.1. The stretch duel boiled down to these two, with “Allbeef” gaining in the famed Pocono Pike, and might have taken it all were he bigger than the smallish sophomore he is, but Rise Up Now, also an altered son of Somebeachsomewhere, held gamely and won by the smallest margin in 1:50.2 to give him both a perfect yearly record after four starts and a new mark. Trainer Brian Brown, the defending Jugette champion with Colors A Virgin and who has a Pennsylvania UTR this year of (no typo) .821 at the moment, may find himself with a ticket to the Thursday big race at the Delaware dance for the Strollin Stable, King McNamara (the Floridian is the only non-Buckeye in the ownership group), William Robinson, and Country Club Acres Inc.

“The girls” would have to put on quite a show Sunday to match the colt fireworks tonight, but there’s lots of talent in tomorrow night’s $128,000 All-Stars sophomore distaff pace, including 2014 PA Sire Stakes champion Southwind Roulette, fellow Breeders Crown finalist Well Hello There, and first-round Sire Stakes winners Safe From Terror and Storm Point – all of whom come from the ubiquitously-victorious barn of Ron Burke.

Brian Brown? His PASS winner of last week, Serious Filly, is sitting this one out, but he has Somewhere Sweet and Triple V Hanover, both second last week, in Sunday night. Maybe he’ll be in both big Delaware dances – and can you think of anything better for a “hometown boy”?

(With files from PHHA / Pocono)

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