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Sophomores Star In Mohawk Stakes

Published: June 6, 2015 9:40 pm ET

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Three-year-old pacing colts Dudes The Man and Rockin In Heaven turned in matching 1:50.3 career-best miles to win their respective $78,767 Somebeachsomewhere Stakes divisions featured on a Saturday stakes night at Mohawk Racetrack.

The Somebeachsomewhere Stakes is considered a final prep for the Pepsi North America Cup, which has eliminations set for next Saturday, June 13 and the final on June 20. All of the starters in the first Somebeachsomewhere division with the exception of Win One Soon remain eligible to the Cup.

Penji Hanover (Chris Christoforou) fired across the track from post eight to establish the early lead into a :26-second first quarter, but his lead was short-lived as Oneisalonelynumber (Trevor Henry) pulled the pocket and swept by. Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Brett Miller) was also on the move at that point, but he broke stride while Oneisalonelynumber reached the half-mile mark in :54.2.

Meanwhile, driver Corey Callahan put Dudes The Man into play. After getting away sixth in the early going, he came rushing after the leader with Breeders Crown champion Traceur Hanover (Randy Waples), the 3-2 favourite, following his cover and Trading Up (Doug McNair) third over.

Oneisalonelynumber and Dudes The Man raced by three-quarters in 1:23 with the latter taking over command and then drawing off down the stretch for the 1:50.3 triumph. Penji Hanover edged out Trading Up in the race for place while Traceur Hanover finished fourth in his season's debut.

Winning trainer Howard Okusko Jr. said that his American Ideal colt benefitted from a couple equipment changes following a third-place finish in a conditioned race at Mohawk two weeks prior.

"Paul MacDonell drove him last [time] and he thought around the last turn he lost a couple of lengths," said Okusko Jr. "He thought maybe he was slipping or maybe touching a knee. So we just put a pair of aluminums on him, opened him up a little bit. He's a fast colt, he just has to get a little luck."

Dudes The Man won two of his 10 races as a freshman while earning $45,601 and has begun his sophomore campaign with two wins in three starts for Delaware owners M And L Of Delaware LLC and Victoria Dickinson.

"We thought a lot about the colt so we sent him to Florida to John Butenschoen and he did a great job with him," noted Okusko Jr. "He took him to north Florida and brought him right back to me and was just perfect."

Dudes The Man paid $14.30 to win as the 6-1 fourth choice in the field scratched down to nine starters. He has been assessed at odds of 38-1 in Trot Magazine's Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.

One of the top 10 ranked contenders in the Spring Book, Pierce Hanover was scratched from the first stakes event with a minor throat infection, which is not expected to prevent the colt from competing in the Cup eliminations, according to early vet reports.

Half of the field in the second division are potential Cup-bound colts, but it was Rockin In Heaven springing a 11-1 surprise as he powered past the highly-regarded Go Daddy Go and Drachan Hanover with Allbeef N Nobull finishing fourth.

Favourite Allbeef N Nobull (Brett Miller) was the first off the gate from post two with Rockin In Heaven and Trevor Henry also leaving to his right side while outsiders Go Daddy Go (John Campbell) and Drachan Hanover (Rick Zeron) sprinted out across the track to mix things up early on. Rockin In Heaven cleared Allbeef N Nobull at the quarter pole in :26.4, but Go Daddy Go worked his way to the top with Drachan Hanover hot on his heels and overtaking the second wagering choice by the half-mile mark in :54.1.

Drachan Hanover remained the leader to three-quarters in 1:22.1. Meanwhile, another Cup eligible The Wayfaring Man (Jack Moiseyev) made a move from the backfield, flushing Rockin In Heaven and Go Daddy Go back out. Those two raced past Drachan Hanover in the stretch with Rockin In Heaven prevailing over Go Daddy Go by one length in 1:50.3.

The win was Rockin In Heaven's fourth in a row and his first stakes victory. He is now seven-for-15 lifetime and is the fastest colt by sire Rock N Roll Heaven, with only filly Sassa Hanover (1:50.1) faster.

"Well, this colt has been a pleasant surprise to say the least," said winning trainer and co-owner Dr. Ian Moore. "He finished the season off very well last year as a two-year-old and we staked him kind of heavily. He trained down very well this spring until he got near racing speed and he just sort of bottomed out. I took him out of the last payment of the North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace. I don't like being proven wrong, but I guess I'm proven wrong tonight and I'm liking it maybe too."

With the Cup no longer an option for Rockin In Heaven, he will now enjoy a short break before a few other stakes engagements.

"I wish there was supplementals, but anyway, he has not been to a New York Sire Stakes yet. There is one is Vernon, but that's not for a couple of weeks," said Moore. "We did pay him up to the Summertime Series here and he is eligible to the Jug. Every baby I have in the barn since 2008 we've kept eligible to the Jug. I think the Simcoe as well. So there are few more on the calendar. I think I'll give him a week off now and freshen him up."

The Guelph, Ont. based horseman shares ownership of Rockin In Heaven with Douglas Polley of Amherst, N.S., Francois Lecomte of St-Hyacinthe, Que., and Gordon McComb of Fall River, N.S.

Opting to compete in an overnight race for non-winners of two races or $50,000 lifetime on the Saturday card as he preps for the Cup, Split The House took a new lifetime mark of 1:50.2 and remains undefeated in four starts during his debut season for trainer James 'Friday' Dean and co-owners Scott Horner of Toronto and Peter Milligan of Mississauga, Ont. Driven by Randy Waples, the son of Rocknroll Hanover came from off-the-pace and prevailed in a stretch battle with Big Moment.

Three-year-old pacing fillies were also in the spotlight on Saturday night competing in their first Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg, which was split into two $105,000 divisions. SBOA Stakes champion Solar Sister and runner-up Ms Mac N Cheese were popular front-end winners in their latest stakes tests on Saturday.

Solar Sister matched her lifetime mark of 1:51.2 that she set in the SBOA Stakes and is now undefeated in four starts this year for the father-son, trainer-driver duo of Gregg and Doug McNair. Owned by David Willmot of King City, Ont. and Toronto's Clay Harland Horner, the homebred Mach Three filly worked her way to the lead over eventual runner-up Wrangler Magic (Sylvain Filion) after being parked through the opening quarter and fought off a challenge from Tessa Seelster (Mario Baillargeon) for the win. Delightful Hill (Jody Jamieson) came on for third.

Driven by Sylvain Filion, Ms Mac N Cheese wired her filly foes while taking a new lifetime mark of 1:52.1 for trainer Richard Moreau and owner David Ratchford of North Sydney, N.S. The win was the Badlands Hanover filly's third in four sophomore starts. Evas Girl (Doug McNair) and Dublin Rose (Trevor Henry) finished second and third, respectively.

The weekly $34,000 Preferred Pace was won by odds-on favourite Shamballa, who used his customary late-closing speed and rallied off the cover of millionaire Thinking Out Loud (John Campbell) to defeat that foe by three-quarters of a length in 1:50 flat. He "only" needed a :26.4 final frame to win this night after sprinting quarters in :25 and change in his last three starts. Trainer/driver Rick Zeron shares ownership of the five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding with Tao Racing LLC. Duc Dorleans (Dan Dube) finished three lengths back in third.

In other action, Tony O'Sullivan had a training triple on the 12-race program, scoring wins in the first four races with Muscle Baby Doll, Youre Majestic and Aslan.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Mohawk Racetrack.


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