When Dovescry won the $40,000 fifth round of the Miss Versatility Series for older trotting females on Saturday (July 31) at The Meadowlands, beating Atlanta by a neck in 1:50.4.
The 12-horse field was reduced by one when Absattitudexpress was scratched.
Weslynn Quest got the early lead to an opening quarter of :27.2. When Dovescry, who was battling for the lead, got to the front just past the quarter, but soon saw Next Level Stuff brush to the top spot and take the field to the half in :55.2.
On the final turn, Morairtime, who started from the second tier in post 11, challenged Next Level Stuff for the lead, and they reached three-quarters together in 1:23.1. Atlanta, who started from post 12, was second-over behind Morairtime and charged into the stretch looking for the lead. When Dovescry needed room and found it in mid-stretch to power to the front and rebuff even-money favourite Atlanta.
“I was happy to follow [Next Level Stuff]; I figured she would take me into the stretch,” winning driver David Miller said. “[Morairtime] was on the outside and was still right there at the head of the lane. Right there, I thought, oh, boy. But [Next Level Stuff] drifted and I was able to get up the inside.
“I was impressed, whenever you beat Atlanta. She is probably one of the greatest trotting mares I’ve been around. She’s pretty special. I’m very proud of my mare, she’s a really good horse. She’s pretty special herself. She had a lot of trot. I’ve been racing her on the front, and she’s good that way, but they always appreciate a trip. She was really good that way.”
Miller drove When Dovescry for trainer Brett Pelling and owner John Lengacher. When Dovescry, by Muscle Hill out of Cedar Dove, was bred by William Weaver III. The five-year-old mare has won 15 of 36 races and earned $1.23 million. She was the 2019 Hambletonian Oaks champion.
Sent at 2-1, When Dovescry paid $6.80 to win.
In no rush to lead leaving from post 8, favourite Perfect Sting and driver David Miller relaxed until the stretch of the $78,700 Tompkins-Geers for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings to win in 1:49.
There was not a lot of action to the half as 43-1 Gamblin Mo rode the pegs to take the lead and cut a :26.4 first quarter, followed by Toronto and Highlandsbeachsbest, who chased in line to a :54.4 half.
Coming to three-quarters in 1:22.2, Whichwaytothebeach came first over to challenge the leading longshot while Perfect Sting followed second over. When the field hit the straightaway, Whichwaytothebeach was pacing a direct path to the finish line, but Perfect Sting was full of pace in the middle of the track and passed under minimal urging to glide home first by two lengths. Whichwaytothebeach, the public’s second choice, finished second in a photo with Highlandbeachsbest while Toronto took fourth.
“Tonight we wanted him to finish up really good, so the opportunity was to get in the hole,” Miller said after the race. “And I had a good horse to follow, so that’s what we did. I was real happy with him. He paced really good; he fired really good through the stretch. That’s something we were looking for.”
Joe Holloway trains Perfect Sting, a son of Always B Miki and the beaten favourite in the clamorous Meadowlands Pace, for owners and breeders Brittany Farms LLC and Val D’Or Farms. His earnings rose to $841,577 with the win, his third in five starts this season. He paid $2.40 to win.
Fire Start Hanover successfully downed 2-5 favourite Test Of Faith in a neck-and-neck stretch drive to hand the champion filly her first defeat of the season when winning the $62,800 Tompkins-Geers for three-year-old pacing fillies in 1:49.
Dexter Dunn landed Fire Start Hanover in fourth when leaving from post 9 while Test Of Faith, starting from the second tier, tracked her stablemate Staycation Hanover into the first turn to settle into fifth. Passing a :26.4 first quarter, Dunn sent Fire Start Hanover for the lead, with Test Of Faith in tow, and cleared before a :55.2 half.
Into the far turn, Fire Start Hanover begrudgingly yielded the lead to Test Of Faith, but Dunn began to light a fire under the champion filly as he gradually floated his charge from the pocket past three-quarters in 1:22. Once straightening for the finish, Test Of Faith fought gamely to keep Fire Start Hanover at bay, but the Richard “Nifty” Norman trainee nonetheless powered past in the final strides to win by a neck at the beam. Off The Record finished third while Classicist closed for fourth.
“We had to push her out pretty hard to clear a few outside of us, [but] she got out of the gate good though,” Dunn said after the race. “I could feel David [Miller] starting to edge [out] there past the quarter, so we made our move and he came with us. She’s pretty versatile. She really swelled up when I let David go and she was ready to rock, so I kept her on the helmet round the turn and she did the rest on the straight.”
Last year’s Dan Patch Two-Year-Old of the Year, Fire Start Hanover has now won 10 races from 17 starts and banked $678,432 for owners Pinske Stables, David Hoese and Lawrence Means. The Sombeachsomewhere filly paid $7.20 to win.