Trainer John Butenschoen took the first three of five divisions of the third preliminary leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old trotting colts on a “sloppy” track Sunday at Mohegan Sun Pocono -- but he lost his streak in the fourth, ironically with the only baby who had a win in each of the first two legs.
But success comes first, and a Butenschoen trainee was the fastest of the five winners: Giveitgasandgo, a Yankee Glide colt who has now won three in a row (the last two Sire Stakes events), Sunday overcoming the outermost post seven by making every pole a winning one in 1:57.1. Corey Callahan, who has been a red-hot teammate of Butenschoen’s in stakes events lately, guided the odds-on winner for the ownership of Harmony Oaks Racing Stable Inc., David Miller, Lawrence Means, and VIP Internet Stable LLC.
Callahan also sulky-sat behind one of Butenschoen’s two other Sire Stakes winners, both of whom had been Stallion Series winners that have now made the successful step up to Sire Stakes competition. Callahan was handling the Crazed gelding Simply Volo, second choice of the crowd, who parlayed a second-over trip into a new mark of 1:58.4 for owners Miller and Means, giving them a stakes double along with Giveitgasandgo, and their partners in Simply Volo, Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Eugene Schick.
Mike Simons, Pocono’s “Trot Man,” drove the third Butenschoen winner, the Andover Hall gelding Wiagram Hanover, and for very good reason -- he is a co-owner of the rookie, along with Christopher Giaccio and Albert Abdala III. Simons moved Wiagram Hanover from fifth to first during the second quarter and put a new lifetime mark of 1:58 on the 3-1 third choice.
The stage was thus set when Butenschoen sent out Dover Dan, as noted the only double winner in the Sire Stakes to date, but a glance at the toteboard which held him as 8-5 second choice augured anything but a waltz here. The 1-2 favourite was the Muscle Massive gelding Muscles Jared, coming off successive 1:56.1 scores, and the powerful trotter rolled to his third straight win in 1:58, by open lengths over Andy M, with Dover Dan tiring after a first-over trip and finishing third. Trainer George Ducharme and owner Al Ross, part of Team Royalty For Life a couple of years back, look to have a fine one in the making here -- and they did well in picking John Campbell as the driver, as not too far back in Muscles Jared’s pedigree you’ll find Armbro Keepsake, a champion mare whom Campbell guided to a Breeders Crown victory.
Muscle Massive garnered a siring double in the other division, which looked the most competitive having gathered four previous Sire Stakes winners, but the chalk prevailed in Snowstorm Hanover, a colt who was on the lead at the three-quarters in the Peter Haughton Final before making a miscue. Snowstorm’s demeanour was perfect tonight despite the off going, powering home from second-over for a 1:57.3 victory for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Ron Burke (back in the same winner's circle where he stood 24 hours earlier with Southwind Frank after winning the Colonial), and the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Frank Baldachino, Phillip Collura, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.
As this group of trotters heads to Harrah’s Philadelphia for its final preliminary on September 1 (their Championship and Consolation races are also at the Philadelphia oval on September 11), to call the point standings “crowded” would be an understatement. With a 35-25-15-10-8-5-4-2-1 point system based on finish (and an *asterisk indicating two-time winners below), the unofficial standings after three legs are: *Dover Dan, 85; *Giveitgasandgo, 80 (giving Butenschoen the top two spots); You Cant Habit, 75; *Muscles Jared, 72; Moonshiner Hanover and *Snowstorm Hanover, tied with 70; Affair Of Honor, 60 (also a Butenschoen); and Box Of Luck, 58. The top eight get into the Championship event; two Also Eligibles also are programmed and can draw into the race until 6 p.m. the night before; those two spots right now are occupied by Andy M and Phi Alpha, tied at 55. And with 10 horses “on the bubble” at less than 20 points behind the top eight, the action at Harrah’s should be fierce the first day of September.