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‘Emperor’ Swoops To Graduate Win

Published: July 11, 2020 11:45 pm ET

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Positioned second over behind a speed duel, driver Mark MacDonald sent Hurrikane Emperor after the lead into the stretch and blew clear to a 1:47 victory in the $250,000 Graduate Pace on Saturday (July 11) at the Meadowlands.

Workin Ona Mystery took the lead from Brassy Hanover past a :26 opening quarter but soon faced a challenge from Dancin Lou moving to the backside. Dancin Lou forged to the lead moving to the backstretch while Bllack Hole, then left uncovered, advanced towards the top, but the pacesetter refused to let him past. Bllack Hole parked—though took a slim lead—passing a :52.3 half.

Hurrikane Emperor stalked Bllack Hole through the swift fractions. By three-quarters in 1:20.3, Hurrikane Emperor began to fan wide with race-favourite Bettors Wish on his back. Dancin Lou battled to the inside through the stretch as Workin Ona Mystery shook loose from the pocket, but the two could not match speed with Hurrikane Emperor moving through the final eighth. The John McDermott trainee struck the front and widened his lead to the finish, chased by Workin Ona Mystery in second, Dancin Lou in third and Brassy Hanover in fourth.

“This is beyond words,” McDermott said. “Through this pandemic it’s been such torture, all I did was go deeper in the hole. Thank God for my great partners that have supported me through it because it has not been easy. To come out here, I knew he was awesome this year. Last week we were all slightly disappointed, but the way he got sick last year, I’m trying to not overuse him.

“This is just really a blessing. He is so special to us. Owning his daddy, losing his daddy last year, he’s family. He’s the greatest creature in the world to me. It’s funny, as a two- and three-year-old he didn’t remind me of his father because he was really nondescript and didn’t have much of a personality. In the last year, he’s grown into such a clown that he’s so much like his dad off the track. On the track, he’s nice and manageable.

“I really thought he was going to be awesome tonight and Mark gave him the most beautiful drive in the world,” McDermott also said. “It worked out beautifully.”

Lowering his lifetime mark set of 1:48.1 set just two starts ago at Tioga, Hurrikane Emperor collected his third win from four starts this season and his 13th from 22 starts overall, earning $534,476. The four-year-old stallion by Hurrikane Kingcole competes for owners Jonathan Klee Racing, Kuhen Racing LLC and William Garofalo and paid $17.80 to win.

Gimpanzee remained atop the trotting throne with a 1:50.4 victory in the $250,000 Graduate Trot.

Reign Of Honor rushed from post 10 to the cones, leading the field into the first turn. Gimpanzee floated towards the top and cleared control past a :27.3 opening quarter. Unchallenged to a :55.3 half, Gimpanzee faced a first-over challenge from Kings County moving into the final turn but maintained command past three-quarters in 1:24.

Into the stretch Kings County began to falter as driver Brian Sears urged Gimpanzee to accelerate. Reign Of Honor eventually found racing room from the pocket and narrowed on Gimpanzee’s advantage late in the stretch, but finished one length shy of the winner in a 1:50.4 mile. Chin Chin Hall took third.

“Reign Of Honor finishing second from a bad post was a little bit shocking that he was so fast behind the gate,” Melander said. “Gimpanzee was supposed to win, but finishing first and second, I’m very pleased.

“(Gimpanzee) is doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s going to go back next week for the Hambletonian Maturity, so it was nice to get a nice race on the lead. I was very happy with what I saw. The horse is getting more in form. Even though he’s been racing great, I can feel him getting sharper and sharper. It will be very exciting to continue racing with him.”

A four-year-old stallion by Chapter Seven, Gimpanzee won his third race from three starts this season and his 20th from 26 overall, earning $1,895,111 for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. Marcus Melander trains the $2.40 winner.

(with files from the USTA)

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