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Check Me Out Returns To Canada A Winner

Published: June 8, 2012 8:41 pm ET

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O'Brien Award winner Check Me Out made her first Canadian start this year a winning one during Friday night's harness racing card at Mohawk Racetrack, which featured female trotters competing for a spot in the Elegantimage Stakes and Armbro Flight Stakes.

World champion Check Me Out won her $35,000 Elegantimage Stakes elimination for three-year-old trotting fillies easily as she brushed to command down the backstretch and pulled away from the field by three lengths for the 1:54.3 triumph.

With three fillies vying for the early lead during the :27.3 first quarter, inside starter Check Me Out and Tim Tetrick settled back into fourth before making the winning move at the :56.2 half-mile mark. She went head-to-head with the leading Northern Miss Hall (Scott Zeron) as they approached three-quarters in 1:24.4 and breezed by that filly around the final turn. Personal Style (David Miller) and Lovely Vacation (Randy Waples) came on from the backfield to place and show. On The Bright Side finished fourth and early leaver Sand Violent Blu (Yannick Gingras) finished fifth.

Check Me Out paid $2.30 to win a the overwhelming 1-9 favourite.

"She's a push-button filly," commented Tetrick after the win. "She's really nice to drive and makes my job real easy. I can do anything I want. She can leave, she can duck, she loves cover, she loves sitting out there, she loves to race horses.

"She won easy enough. She's got a long year and I was very happy with her performance today. She did what I asked her to do. She came first up and fought through the win. She won in hand."

The Donato Hanover-Illusion Bi filly won 14 times in 16 starts and finished second in her only two losses as a freshman. Major victories last year in the Merrie Annabelle, Champlain Stakes, Bluegrass Series, International Stallion Stakes, Breeders Crown and Matron Stakes helped her amass $898,343 in purse earnings for trainer Raymond Schnittker and co-owner Charles Iannazzo. She is two-for-three so far during her sophomore year.

"She's as good as she was last year," noted Tetrick. "She was great-gaited filly as a two-year-old and she's got aluminum all the way around now so she's a little bit lighter. She's trotting good, she's a little bit calmer in the post parade, which always helps me out. She's just a super nice filly."

The winning connections will get to choose their post positions for next weekend's final and Tetrick says he likes either the three or the four posts.

"I just want to have options to be able to do what I want, whenever I want," said the reinsman. "I'm not a big fan of the rail here because you can get slammed in and maybe get in a spot you don't want to be in so three or four is good for me."

Maven, who defeated Check Me Out in their Pennsylvania Sire Stakes season's debut, pulled off a mild 8-1 upset with a career-best 1:53.1 winning effort in the other elimination for trainer Jonas Czernyson and owner W. J. Donovan.

Idonette (John Campbell) made a break behind the gate at the rail before Valdonna (Ron Pierce) took off from post five with Win Missy B (David Miller) in pursuit from post seven. She cleared to command just past the :27.1 opening quarter pole with Maven and Yannick Gingras following from third and the rest of the field gapped back five lengths.

Win Missy B raced by the half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:23.3 while favourite All Ready Hanover (Trevor Ritchie) and Valdonna made breaks and Maven made her move advancing first up. Maven swept past the tempo-setter in the stretch for her second win three starts this year, by over two lengths, while Miss Paris (Rick Zeron) came on from the back of the pack for second over Win Missy B. Valdonna recovered from her miscue to finish fourth and Superstar Hanover was fifth, both over 13 lengths behind. Maven paid $19 to win as the 8-1 third choice.

"It definitely helped when Ronny made a break," commented Gingras in the winner's circle. "My filly was a little bit grabby in the hole so I had to come when I came."

Gingras says a middle post position for the final will work to his filly's advantage.

"She's a little bit tricky behind the gate," he said. "I was a little nervous getting there tonight. The gate wasn't moving at all and she got a little close to it. She doesn't like that so somewhere in the middle would help. I'll talk to Jonas about it and I'm sure that's where we'll pick."

Another O’Brien Award winner turned in a top performance in Friday night’s eliminations, but had to share the spotlight...again. China Pearls squeezed through traffic in the stretch to record her second consecutive dead-heat win in the first $50,000 Armbro Flight Stakes elimination for trotting mares with Pembroke Heat Wave and Doug McNair arriving late on the scene to share in the glory.

Fresh off a dead-heat victory in Preferred action, 3-2 favourite China Pearls and driver Randy Waples took control of the field off the gate from post two with the parked out Beatgoeson Hanover (David Miller) rolling up to take over as they raced by the first quarter pole in :27.4.

Beatgoeson Hanover led the way to the half in :56.4 with Jersey As (Tim Tetrick) moving first up from fourth just before the middle marker. She edged out in front into the final turn and opened up three lengths by the 1:24.3 third quarter station, but the backfield sprang to life down the stretch and she had to settle for fourth. China Pearls slipped through between horses while early trailer Pembroke Heat Wave rallied home on the outside for the dead-heat win in 1:54.3. Cleopatre Duharas (Scott Zeron) came on for third. Bax Of Life (Jason Brewer) grabbed the final paycheque in fifth.

China Pearls paid $3.10 to win while 13-1 upsetter Pembroke Heat Wave returned $10.80 to her backers.

China Pearls, an Ontario Sires Stakes graduate who banked $511,905 last year, is owned by trainer Carman Hie’s stable along with Blake Anthony of Millgrove, Ont., J. Peter Kloepfer of Harley, Ont., and Ted Murrell of Sharon, Ont.

“It was pretty tight down in there, but she got through so that’s the main thing,” said Waples, who went on to recognize the Kadabra-Pure Sable mare’s trainer as being her best quality. “Carman. Carman Hie. He just knows his stuff and he does a really good job with her. She’s just a really good filly. He took his time with her as a two-year-old – hardly did anything with her at all – and then raced her very lightly as a three-year-old and she’s come back strong this year. She’s racing against older mares now. She should only get stronger. She just turned four. She has a long career ahead of her and Carman will stretch it out.”

Waples indicated he would prefer an inner post position for the final.

“The 10 is probably taken,” he joked, “So probably anywhere down on the inside of the wings. I would prefer not the rail, maybe the four-hole or something like that. She’s getting to be pretty handy off the gate. She showed it again tonight.”

Pembroke Heat Wave is trained by Gregg McNair for owner-breeder William Varney.

“She raced good. I sat last the whole way and slipped through late and she got up to dead-heat for the win,” said Doug McNair, who added that a two or three post would be ideal for the six-year-old Like A Prayer-Super Earl mare.

Defending Armbro Flight Stakes champion Action Broadway brought McNair back to the winner's circle in the second elimination.

O'Brien Award winner Frenchfrysnvinegar (Jody Jamieson) was the quickest off the wings of the gate forcing Jezzy (Tim Tetrick) to settle for a pocket trip as that mare tried to leave to her outside. Frenchfrysnvinegar carved out early fractions of :27.3 and :57.3 before being confronted by first over attacker and favourite Cedar Dover (Ron Pierce), who had early trailers Mystical Starlight (John Campbell) and Action Broadway following her cover.

Cedar Dove struck the front in the stretch, but Action Broadway came flying home to nip her at the wire in 1:56.1. Cameron Chip (Steve Condren) finished third while Unefoisdansmavie (David Miller) and Frenchfrysnvinegar were fourth and fifth.

Overlooked by the betting public at odds of 69-1, Action Broadway returned a whopping $141 for a $2 win ticket.

Faced with the choice of driving two of the elimination winners, McNair said he would opt for Action Broadway.

"She's a pretty nice mare, she's made a lot of money," he said. "I would probably pick this one. The owner, Ken Sommer, just had his 90th birthday and I've known him my whole life so it would be a big thrill to drive for him going for big money like that."

Sommer also bred the Broadway Hall-Photo With Molly mare, who earned an O'Brien Award nomination last year after earning over half a million dollars and winning 10 of her 27 races, including the Armbro Flight and Muscle Hill Trot.

Here are the fields for the Saturday, June 16 stake finals in post position order:

$530,000 Elegantimage Stake

1. On The Bright Side
2. Win Missy B
3. Check Me Out
4. Maven
5. Lovely Vacation
6. Sand Violent Blu
7. Superstar Hanover
8. Valdonna
9. Miss Paris
10. Personal Style

$376,000 Armbro Flight Stake

1. Bax Of Life
2. Action Broadway
3. China Pearls
4.Pembroke Heat Wave
5. Unefoisdansmavie
6. Cedar Dove
7. Jersey As
8. Cleopatre Duharas
9. Frenchfrysnvinegar
10. Cameron Chip

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


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