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Close Calls In Sun Stakes Saturday

Published: July 4, 2015 8:13 pm ET

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With nearly $2.3 million in purses on the line, the competition was fierce on Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono as many of the feature events were decided in photo finishes.

Pinkman held off his stablemate Uncle Lasse to win the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings.

Trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Yannick Gingras have now won the Beal two years in a row with Pinkman following up Father Patrick's 2014 triumph.

Leaving from the inside post, Pinkman grabbed the lead with Uncle Lasse (Brett Miller) settling into the pocket spot through a :27.1 first quarter, during which Cruzado Dela Noche (David Miller) broke stride. Pinkman continued on to the half before Centurion Atm (Ake Svanstedt) rushed up to challenge for the lead. Those two trotters battled head-to-head past three-quarters in 1:23.4 with Pinkman maintaining the lead down the stretch and hanging on to win over his pylon-skimming stablemate by a head. The 1:51.3 clocking was a new lifetime mark for Pinkman and lowered his own world record for three-year-old trotting geldings on a five-eighths mile track that he shared with Spider Blue Chip.

"Jimmy said he wasn't quite right last week and he told me after the race he had some stuff to work on," said Gingras of Pinkman's second-place finish in his elimination. "I knew really early in the race last week that he wasn't himself, but today, a quarter in :27, he was on the bit and just wanted to race so I knew he was back."

Pinkman is now 10-for-13 in his career with earnings soaring to $953,175 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman.

Even-money favourite Habitat made amends for a break in stride in his Beal elimination with a career-best 1:53 triumph in the $75,000 consolation for Yannick Gingras over Walter White (Jimmy Takter) and Donatomite (Trond Smedshammer). The Ron Burke trainee worked to the lead ahead of eventual breaker Aldebaran Eagle (Corey Callahan) through the first quarter and drew two lengths clear of first over Donatomite in the stretch. The O'Brien Award winning Conway Hall colt is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.

Luck Be Withyou went over the million-dollar mark in career earnings with his photo finish victory in $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for Free-For-All pacers.

In similar fashion to his elimination, driver George Napolitano Jr. fired Luck Be Withyou off the gate from the outside post and swept across the track to take the lead, landing ahead of insider Domethatagain (Simona Allard). After a :26.2 opening quarter, Luck Be Withyou cruised through a :55 half and raced to three-quarters in 1:21.4. The four-year-old son of Western Ideal was still clear of first over Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras) entering the stretch, but Domethatagain closed up the inside lane to make it a close call. Luck Be Withyou held on by a nose over Domethatagain in 1:49 flat while 4-5 favourite State Treasurer (David Miller) closed off cover to finish third.

"I did a lot of praying for that one," said Napolitano after the photo finish. "It was close, but I thought I had a head up on Simon."

Owned by John Craig of North York, Ont. and trained by Chris Oakes, Luck Be Withyou has won half of his 10 starts this year and has 15 career wins in 38 starts.

Dancin Yankee won the $75,000 Ben Franklin consolation in front-end fashion, charging to the lead through sub-:26 first quarter and delivering as the 3-5 favourite. Jim Morrill Jr. drove the seven-year-old millionaire son of Yankee Cruiser to the 1:48.4 victory, his 45th lifetime, for trainer
Josh Green and owners Baron Racing Stable and Richard Lombardo.
Dapper Dude (Andrew McCarthy) advanced first over for second-place honours and Bigtown Hero (Simon Allard) finished third inside.

Wiggle It Jiggleit brushed to the lead early on and delivered as the 1-5 favourite in the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial Pace for three-year-old male pacers. Montrell Teague drove the Clyde Francis-trained gelding for his father George Teague Jr.

Artspeak (Scott Zeron) established the early lead over Lost For Word (David Miller) through a :26-second first quarter with Wiggle It Jiggleit coming on and clearing to command before the three-eighths mark. As Wiggle It Jiggleit raced to the half in :53.4 and three-quarters in 1:20.3, Pierce Hanover (Brett Miller) challenged first over with In The Arsenal (Brian Sears) and Pepsi North America Cup champion Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick) following his cover and then fanning wide for the stretch drive. However, Wiggle It Jiggleit remained strong in the stretch to prevail by one and a half lengths in a new lifetime mark of 1:48.2. Artspeak was second while In The Arsenal finished third over Wakizashi Hanover.

The Mr Wiggles gelding now boasts 13 wins in 14 career starts, with his only loss a second-place effort in the North America Cup. The lion's share of the purse boosted his bankroll to $654,742.

Badiou Hanover scored a 1:50.3 triumph in the $75,000 Hempt consolation for the husband and wife, driver and trainer team of Andy and Julie Miller. The Pinske Stables and James Simpson's Well Said gelding rushed to the lead in front of the grandstand and held off Dragon Eddy (Corey Callahan) in the passing lane and the wide-rallying Allbeef N Nobull (Brett Miller) by less than a length.

Bettor Be Steppin and driver Corey Callahan persevered in a wild finish to win the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial Pace, with the top four sophomore pacing fillies sent off with double digit odds.

The Show Returns (Tim Tetrick) fired across the track from the outside nine-hole to take the early lead over Momas Got A Gun (Jim Morrill Jr.) with even-money favourite Stacia Hanover (Scott Zeron) clearing to command at the :26-second first quarter while Wicked Little Minx (Brett Miller) was left first over and had Sassa Hanover (Yannick Gingras) on her back. Stacia Hanover continued to lead through middle splits of :54.1 and 1:21.4 while Wicked Little Minx turned up the pressure and Sassa Hanover began to fan wide. However, down the stretch Momas Got A Gun closed along the pylons while Single Me (Brian Sears) and Bettor Be Steppin stormed home on the grandstand side in a thrilling finish. Bettor Be Steppin prevailed in a career-best 1:50.4 by a nose over Single Me with Momas Got A Gun a neck back in third and Wicked Little Minx finishing fourth one length behind.

"I wouldn't really say I worked out a good trip," said Callahan in a post-race interview. "At the half, I was a little disappointed in my spot, but things worked out, opened up down the backside and I got out and the filly did the rest from there.

"I think that's a very good price for her," said Callahan referring to her 15-1 odds. "She's definitely one of the top in her class...she proved tonight she could beat these fillies and I think you'll hear from her the rest of the season."

Joe Holloway trains the Bettors Delight filly, a career winner of more than a half-million dollars, for owners Val Dor Farms, Rojan Stables and Theodore Gewertz.

Ideal Nuggets and driver George Napolitano Jr. won the $50,000 Lynch consolation in 1:51.2, going first over on the backstretch to overtake the leading 8-5 favourite, Southwind Roulette (Yannick Gingras), into the stretch. Robert and Lauren Tucker's homebred Western Ideal filly is trained by Ed Lohmeyer. Well Hello There (Brian Sears) came on from the backfield for second and A Plus (Scott Zeron) came through at the inside for third.

The season-debuting Sebastian K was looking to defend his title in the $75,000 Mohegan Sun Invitational Trot after establishing an all-age trotting world record of 1:49 flat in last year's edition for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt. However, JL Cruze and driver John Campbell collared the Swedish star at the wire to continue his current hot streak.

Gural Hanover and Yannick Gingras established the lead over Sebastian K through a :27.1 first quarter with Svanstedt waiting until he had to move when JL Cruze began to advance. Sebastian K worked his way to the lead past the half in :55.3 and JL Cruze moved up to match his strides by three-quarters in 1:23. The two favourites battled down the lane with JL Cruze making a final lunge in deep stretch to nose out Sebastian K for his 10th win in a row. His 1:51 winning time equalled Wind Of The North's world record for four-year-old trotting geldings on a five-eighth mile track. Gural Hanover finished two and a half lengths behind in third.

JL Cruze now has 14 wins and has finished no worse than second in 16 starts this year to earn the bulk of his $303,735 career bankroll. Bred in Ontario by Joanne Morrison and Glengate Farms, the son of Crazed is trained by Eric Ell and owned by Kenneth Wood, William Dittmar Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta.

Driver Jim Morrill Jr. swept a pair of $30,000 Open pacing events earlier on the undercard. In the Mares Open, trainer William Wiggins and Donna Fedorak's Ooh Bad Shark followed 4-5 favourite Yagonnakissmeornot (Simon Allard) through fractions of :26.2, :54.4 and 1:22.3 before collaring her at the wire in 1:50 flat while Anndrovette (Tim Tetrick) finished third along the inside. Owned and trained by Tracy Brainard, Caution Signs maintained the lead through panels of :26, :53 and 1:20.3 while fighting off Scott Rocks (George Napolitano Jr.) to win in 1:48.4 by one and a half lengths. Favourite JK Endofanera (Yannick Gingras) rallied wide from third over to place while Somethinginthewind (Anthony Napolitano) finished third.

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