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Cassis Turns Tables On Pilgrims Chuckie

Published: June 26, 2010 10:23 pm ET

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Cassis, used to having his way on top, stalked beautifully from the pocket Saturday and avenged his recent defeat by World Champion Pilgrims Chuckie in stake-record time in a $257,132 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows.

The event for 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters, known as the Hickory Smoke, was contested over three divisions, with Pilgrims Taj and Red Light taking the other splits — the latter by disqualification.

Although Cassis had captured two previous PASS legs, both were on the front end. Moreover, Cassis finished 5-1/4 lengths behind Pilgrims Chuckie when he blazed a mile in 1:53, matching the fastest ever by a sophomore trotting colt on a five-eighths-mile track, June 14 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

In the Hickory Smoke, Cassis had a lean and hungry look, content to track Pilgrims Chuckie from the quarter-pole on for trainer/driver Ray Schnittker.

“Last year, I thought he was better from behind,” Schnittker said. “He’s been so good this year — he leaves really well — that it’s hard to put him in a hole. Pilgrims Chuckie was so good the last time they raced that I figured, if I put him in the pocket, he could be second, and I wouldn’t beat him up. I hoped he could win it, and it turned out well.”

Cassis outdueled Pilgrims Chuckie in the Lightning Lane, prevailing by a head in 1:54, with Mystery Photo third. The time equaled the stake record established last year by Caviar Crown.

Kalk’s, Arden Homestead Stable, Jerry Silva and Schnittker own Cassis, a son of Cantab Hall-Dirty Martini whose only defeat in seven starts this year came at the hands of Pilgrims Chuckie. Cassis is scheduled to race next at Goshen.

The 2009 Breeders Crown champion Pilgrims Taj had an easier time of it, grabbing the early lead and drawing off to win by 4 lengths for Mike Lachance in 1:55.2. On The Tab was a non-threatening second, with B Winner K third. Lachance reported that the son of Broadway Hall-BWT Maija is well positioned on the Hambletonian trail.

“The colt is very good right now, and the timing is perfect,” Lachance said. “He has confidence in himself, and I have confidence in him. We might go to the Yonkers Trot with him, but we’re not sure we want to take that chance. We’ll probably train him on a half-mile track, and the owners will decide what they want to do. If we do go to Yonkers, we won’t go there just to race. We’ll go there to win.”

Monte Gelrod trains Pilgrims Taj, who extended his career bankroll to $816,748, for Robert Bongiorno, Pilgrims Taj Stable, Bix DiMeo and Val D’Or Farms.

Red Light, the 3-10 favourite in his division, was on the move first over for Andy Miller when Hard Livin and Marcus Johansson pulled the pocket to attack the leader, Texas Ridge. Hard Livin finished 1-2 length ahead of Red Light but was ruled to have interfered with him in that backside scramble. Red Light was placed the winner in 1:56, with Hard Livin disqualified and placed second. Texas Ridge saved show.

“(The interference) broke my momentum,” Miller said. “I was coming pretty good, and it made me shut down a little bit. We came back on, but they kind of got the jump on me.”

Matthew Cox trains Red Light, a gelded son of SJ’s Photo-Miss Lovely who won his third straight race, for BTU Stable.

In the $25,000 Preferred Handicap Trot, Rembrandt Spur showed once again that he’s the boss, winning for the fourth time in his last five starts for trainer/driver Dick Stillings and owner Roy Davis. The son of Pegasus Spur-Marty E was a neck better than Caviar Crown, who saw his Hickory Smoke mark equaled earlier in the card, with Winning Mister a rallying third. Time for the mile was 1:55.

Greg Grismore and Tony Hall each drove three winners on the 14-race card.

(The Meadows)

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