On paper, North America Cup winner Pebble Beach Glass and Meadowlands Pace champion Beach Glass looked many lengths better than the rest of the field in Saturday's $350,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows. But Bythemissal reminded us forcefully that an elite test for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers is not contested on paper.
The Downbytheseaside-Dismissal gelding moved powerfully first over to defeat Beach Glass by 1-1/4 lengths and spring the 8-1 upset for Chris Page, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Eric Good, Rich Lombardo Racing and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. It was the second straight Adios triumph for Good, who also owned last year's winner, Hellabalou.
Bythemissal had lost only once in his six-race career, but it was that 5-3/4-length pasting by Pebble Beach in last week's Adios eliminations that sent bettors looking elsewhere. Page indicated that race served as a sort of an introduction to top-level competition for Bythemissal.
"Last week was the prep race," said Page, in only his second Adios. "I was really confident in how he came out of the race and how he finished. Ronnie said he had a great week this week, so I just needed to make sure I kept him out of trouble. I got him in play a little bit but away from the :53.4 half."
River Ness, the winner's stablemate, was determined to make for a demanding quarter but broke stride before he could fully accomplish his goal. Nevertheless, Beach Glass was forced to a blistering :25.4 panel. Yet his half time of :53.4 was only a tick faster than last week's :54 in the slop, so it would be unfair to suggest that Bythemissal's win was fractions-aided. Rather, Burke said he saw signs of today's outcome in last week's strong finish.
"We wanted to race him a little more aggressively, but it didn't work out," Burke said. "But you don't make the move he made last week to finish second and not be good. You can't be three-deep and make up ground against real good horses. Chris had him double wrapped up at the wire. Chris is never confident, and he was supremely confident with this horse.
"At the half today, I thought, if Chris can get wheeled up by the three-quarters, it'll be on. My horse has the will to win. You get him close, he's gonna get ya."
It's the second blanket of orchids for Burke, whose massive stable is based at The Meadows, as he also prevailed with Dorsoduro Hanover — still active and a double millionaire. He also was assistant trainer for his father Mickey when the elder Burke won the Adios with May June Character, the final win of that horse's career. Each win, Burke said, has felt differently.
"The one with my dad is still special," he said. "That was the one that knocked the door down for us. It's a hard race to win. But in the others, we were favourites. People we're calling this a two-horse race."
Burke said Bythemissal probably would aim for the Carl Milstein at MGM Northfield and likely will be supplemented to the Little Brown Jug.
Sweet Kisses Plants 34-1 Smooch On Adioo Volo Field
Trailing 1-5 favourite Captain Cowgirl by three lengths at the three-quarters and shoved wide for the drive, it figured that Sweet Kisses was looking at a cheque at best. Certainly her driver, Yannick Gingras, thought so.
“I was hoping for second at the top of the stretch,” Gingras said.
Yet Sweet Kisses found another gear and roared past Captain Cowgirl to pull off a 34-1 upset in the $102,355 Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo for three-year-old filly pacers, the companion feature to Saturday’s final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows.
Pennsylvania’s reigning champion, Captain Cowgirl, won three of four Pennsylvania Sire Stakes preliminary legs this season, typically facing stiffer competition than she encountered in the Adioo Volo. Sweet Kisses is no slouch, with a pair of PA Stallion Series wins to her credit this year. Yet Gingras was amazed at her late response.
“When we straightened, I saw Timmy (Tetrick aboard Captain Cowgirl) was chasing his pretty good, so I thought we had a shot,” he said. “She’s been getting better and better. Ronnie (Burke) told me to give her a shot — she’s ready.”
Sweet Kisses defeated Captain Cowgirl by a length in a career-best 1:50, with Galleria Hanover third. When Bythemissal captured the Pace for the Orchids, it gave Burke an Adios-Adioo Volo sweep. For his part, Gingras has won eight Adioo Volo contests, placing him in a tie for second with Brian Sears behind Dave Palone’s chart-topping 21.
Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Knox Services and Phillip Collura own Sweet Kisses, who now has banked $118,077.
Saturday’s card at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, highlighted by the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids and the Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo, also featured four other Grand Circuit stakes. Here are the highlights from those events.
$32,323 Ned McCarr Three-Year-Old Filly Trot
Dreamonhigh last year became the fastest freshman ever at The Meadows — regardless of gender — when she trotted in 1:54, so it hardly was a surprise when she dominated this stake.
The daughter of Andover Hall-RCs Dream seized the lead from Post 6, enjoyed a comfortable front half of :58 and triumphed by nine lengths in a stake-record 1:54, lowering Donato Jewels' previous mark by two ticks. Sabrina Hill and Blue Skies Shining rounded out the ticket.
“We got to float around there pretty cheap and she raced very well,” said Todd McCarthy, who drove for trainer Per Engblom and owner KAT Stables LLC. “She’s a little green still, she’s maturing, and she was very well behaved today. She’s a classy little filly.”
Dreamonhigh lifted her lifetime bankroll to $317,770.
$35,698 James Manderino Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot
This stake also was pretty much over early, as Guido Di outduelled Rose Run Xtra for the early lead and would not let him cut into the margin. Guido D defeated Rose Run Xtra by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:53.4, fastest win of his career. Andoverthewinnings finished third.
“I got into him a little bit in the last turn just to get him in gear and get him to sprint away,” said winning driver Brady Brown. “After that, it was all him. He was impressive in his last start, so I was pretty confident with him going into the race.”
The Wishing Stone-Focus On Me gelding now has banked $161,950 for trainer Steve Schoeffel and owners Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel, Lewis Falton and Sara Zidek.
$60,000 Roy Davis Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace
A fair share of good-paying winners found their way to Victory Lane on Adios Day. Before Chris Page paid $18.20 winning The Adios with Bythemissal, there had been four winners exceeding that price, toting drivers named Gingras, Merriman, Wrenn and Page himself. But it was “favourites only” parading back after each division of the $60,000 Roy Davis, the Arden Downs Stakes for two-year-old pacing males.
Driver Tim Tetrick, trainer Jim King Jr. and owners Threelyonsracing were the team behind two of the Roy Davis winners. First up was the Stay Hungry-Surfside Sexy colt Lyons Surfing, a $110,000 yearling purchase (his third dam was Shes A Great Lady), who broke his maiden in fine style with a 1:53.2 victory. Lyons Surfing went to the lead in a :27.4 opener, then was content to yield to second choice Crown Of Thorns, who put up middle-race splits of :56.3 and 1:25.4. But the easy middle half gave no advantage to the pacesetter, as Tetrick moved his charge — fifth and third in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in his only other two career starts — outside on the turn, went right by the leader, and drew off to win by seven lengths over Poseidon Deo.
Following the race, King had a bold prediction.
“I think he’s destined to be back here on this date next year (for the Adios),” he said. “I like him a lot; I don’t think he’s come anywhere close to his potential yet, and he doesn’t seem to have any issues. I’ve been pretty kind on him.
“Gotta try for the Adios. I never had me one of those. Gotta bring two next year.”
King’s crystal ball looked even clearer when he and Tetrick/Threelyonsracing came back with the Sweet Lou–Zane Hanover colt Lyons Stealth, as the colt made the top nearing a :28.3 opener, then absolutely shut down the speed, walking to the half in :58.3. Lyons Stealth responded readily when asked for speed after that, going a :28 third quarter (1:26.3) and then zipping home in 27.2 to win in 1:54 and remain perfect in three starts, having won two PA Stallion Series races previously. Pocket sitter Sweet Chilli Heat was 1-3/4 lengths behind the sprinting winner at the finish.
The Lazarus N–Inittowinafortune colt Voukefalas came to The Meadows as the fastest two-year-old of 2022 after a 1:50 win in a New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship, and he again showed high speed in winning his section in 1:53.2. Jordan Stratton, driving for trainer Michael Russo and owner Michael Pagonas, kept Voukefalas mid-pack through early fractions of :26.3 and :56.3, then gave him his head down the backstretch, with the baby responding to clear to the lead easily before the 1:24.3 three-quarters, then keeping early pacesetter South Point 2-3/4 lengths in the rearview mirror to the line.
$35,160 Mary Lib Miller Two-Year-Old Filly Pace
The Always B Miki–Sweet Body filly Ambushed overcame Post 8 in the lone division of the $35,160 Mary Lib Miller, the Arden Downs Stake for two-year-old pacing distaffs.
Ambushed and Nevertellmetheodds, both sent off at 7-5 (with the latter favoured by a mere $81), argued through a :27.2 opening panel before the second choice made the top for driver McCarthy. Ambushed went on to mid-race splits of :55.4 and 1:24.2, and there would be no ambush in the stretch from the pocket sitter, as the winner went on to prevail by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:52.3, a new lifetime mark and only a tick off Lyons Sentinel’s stakes record set last year. Hunter Oakes conditions the winner, now with three straight wins including two PA Stallion Series triumphs, for D Racing Stable Inc. and Donald Mac Rae.
ADIOS NOTES: Handle for the 16-race Adios Day card surged to $1,294,602, highest total in recent memory...Bythemissal's time matched the track record for geldings established by Alsace Hanover...The Burke Brigade started 23 horses on the program, well off its Adios Day record 29. "That made it a lot easier," Burke said. "It really did."
A video stream of the full card is available here.