Heavily-favoured Its Academic cruised to a five-and-three-quarter-length victory in the $102,245 Currier & Ives for trotting three-year-olds at The Meadows on Saturday (July 4).
When Sister Sledge and Crucial waltzed to similarly easy wins in the $64,594 filly division—each in stake-record time— hey gave Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke a Currier & Ives sweep.
Burke’s big day didn’t end there. He started horses in 11 of the card’s 15 races and won in nine of them.
Its Academic entered the Currier & Ives off two strong place finishes in Ohio Sires Stakes legs and looked to lay over the field. In this case, looks were not deceiving as the son of Uncle Peter-Annapolis floated to the lead and widened at will, even after Gingras had shut him down. Harley K and Coventry Hall completed the ticket.
“He’s just a real gentleman — perfect to drive,” Gingras said. “Down by the wire, I left him alone. He’s a little bit lazy, but he’s a nice horse. To be a top colt, he’ll have to go a lot faster, but for Ohio and here, he’s the perfect horse.”
Burke Racing Stable, William Donovan, Joe Sbrocco and Hatfield Stables campaign Its Academic, who vaulted over $200,000 in lifetime earnings.
Following last week’s easy victory in her season’s debut, Sister Sledge continued to roll through the soft part of her schedule, quarter-poling to the point and scoring in 1:53.2. That eclipsed the stake mark of 1:53.4 established about 15 minutes earlier by Crucial.
Last year’s Pennsylvania champion and Dan Patch Award runner-up, the daughter of Father Patrick-Behind Closedoors will begin a tougher stretch with the July 15 PA Sires Stake leg at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Is Sister Sledge where she needs to be to handle more competitive fillies?
“She couldn’t have been any better today, that’s for sure,” Gingras said. “It will get tougher; that’s coming for sure. There are a lot of good fillies that weren’t here today. But her timing is right. She’s really good right now.”
Sans Defaut (trained by Burke) and Perth Angel De Vie finished second and third, respectively. Burke Racing Stable, Jason Melillo, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC campaign Sister Sledge, who now boasts a career bankroll of $584,843.
Although Crucial’s stake record was fleeting, her win after a quarter-pole move signaled that she might be ready for more.
“She had a class edge on these horses for sure,” Gingras said. “She’s grown since last year, of course, and she’s stronger. I thought she was very professional today.”
Petey Sarah and Dune Hill rounded out the ticket. In keeping with Burke’s huge day, he swept the top three spots in this split.
Crucial, a daughter of Father Patrick-Jolene Jolene, now has banked $159,587 for Burke Racing Stable, Donovan, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi.
Dave Palone collected four wins Saturday while Dan Charlino and Jim Pantaleano enjoyed triples.
Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when 59 freshman filly trotters will make their stakes debut in a pair of events: a $210,221 PASS and an $80,000 PA Stallion Series stake. In addition, the 15-race card will feature a $9,712.33 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5 and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Early Pick 4 (Race 3). First post is 12:45 p.m. (EDT).