Wiggle It Jiggleit continued his stellar sophomore campaign as he powered to victory lane with a 1:48 first over effort in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine for three-year-old male pacers on Super Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Wiggle It Jiggleit's winning time matched the world record for three-year-old geldings on a five-eighths mile track.
With a trio of outside contenders leaving the gate, driver Montrell Teague settled 1-5 favourite Wiggle It Jiggleit away fourth through a blistering :25.4 opening quarter. Artspeak (Scott Zeron) led the charge with Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick) and Yankee Bounty (Yannick Gingras) dropping in second and third, respectively.
However, Teague made his move with Wiggle It Jiggleit on the front side and the millionaire son of Mr Wiggles charged first up past the :54.4 half-mile mark and matched strides with the pacesetter down the backstretch. Meanwhile, Dudes The Man (Corey Callahan) moved into second over position.
Wiggle It Jiggleit eventually battled past Artspeak, hitting three-quarters in 1:21.1, and began to open up three lengths en route to his 17th career win in 19 starts for trainer Clyde Francis. Wakizashi Hanover finished second and Dudes The Man was third over Artspeak.
"I just try to read the gate when I'm out there," said Montrell Teague of his racing strategy. "I looked over and saw there was a couple of them leaving from the outside. I wasn't right up on him so I wasn't going to try to retake. He's good off-the-pace too, so I try to do that once in a while too.
"We weren't going enormous fractions, but right when I got beside that other horse, he just swelled right up and when he looked him in the eye, he was determined to go by."
"I liked his spot," added George Teague Jr, Montrell's father and Wiggle It Jiggleit's owner. "We always trained him off the pace and he's got a great set of lungs. If he's on his game, I don't care where he's at. He could be parked the whole mile and he can go a great mile even when he's out there."
Wiggle It Jiggleit, who also counts the Hempt at Pocono among his major stakes wins, is being pointed to the Little Brown Jug.
The Somebeachsomewhere gelding Blood Brother swung wide in the stretch after a cutthroat early duel involving four horses, sprinting clear late to take the $200,000 Consolation I in a personal-best of 1:50.
David Miller raced the normally-forwardly-inclined sophomore from behind tonight, and the change to second-over tactics worked perfectly as Blood Brother got the decision by a length for trainer Jimmy Takter (yes, this was a pace) and owners Diamond Creek Racing and J&T Silva Stables LLC.
Rollin Ring Afire, left uncovered as Rufo ducked into the pocket at the three-quarters, closed strongly to defeat that rival, who had gotten to the lead using the Pocono Pike passing lane, by a half-length while reducing his mark to 1:50.1 in Consolation II.
The son of Rocknroll Hanover gave driver Tim Tetrick half of the first four races on the card while winning for trainer Charlie Norris and owners Leonard Buckner and Rebecca Ewing. (By the way, the phrase “rollin ring afire” does not appear in the famous song by Johnny and June Carter Cash -- but the cheque for the winner's share of the $100,000 purse will cash very nicely, thank you.)
With Hambletonian champion Pinkman making a break in stride at the start, the $500,000 Colonial Trot turned into a 'Crazy Wow' show.
Following Pinkman's uncharacteristic miscue as the starter released the field, his stablemate Uncle Lasse (David Miller) crossed over to the lead ahead of insiders Crazy Wow and Tim Tetrick and sprinted the first quarter in :26.3. Meanwhile, Jacksons Minion (Tom Jackson) also broke stride while racing outside.
Uncle Lasse continued to lead the field through middle splits of :55.1 and 1:23.3 with Canepa Hanover (John Campbell), another one of five Takter-trained trotters, advancing first over and Suit And Tie (Corey Callahan) following his cover.
However, the main threat proved to be the Ron Burke trainee Crazy Wow, looming in the pocket spot and awaiting the passing lane to overtake the pacesetter with ease to win in 1:52.3. The Bank (Jimmy Takter) came through along the inside for second-place over Uncle Lasse.
"I was just trying to land as close as I could. Takter had a few in there and I was going to follow Pinkman, but it didn't work out that way when he made a break," said Tetrick after the race. "I got a perfect trip out of it -- sat the two-hole and my horse responded well. He felt good. He's a big, strong horse and he's great to drive. He works at it and he's got a good attitude and he likes to win."
Crazy Wow, who was not eligible to the Hambletonian and won his last start in the New York Sire Stakes, paid $21 for the upset victory.
"We had some bad luck in the Beal here and the Stanley Dancer, but today we made it happen. He's special," said Jerry Silva, who shares ownership of the Crazed colt as part of the J And T Silva Stables along with Our Horse Cents Stables, Jt45 and Deo Volente Farms.
If you backed Centurion ATM in the $200,000 Consolation I and saw driver Ake Svanstedt pull his horse out of the two-hole nearing the three-quarters to battle favoured Whom Shall I Fear, you had to be encouraged, for Svanstedt is one of the best sulky-sitters in the world.
Centurion ATM went right to the lead and strode off to a one and three-quarter length win in 1:53.3, a tick off of his lifetime record.
Svanstedt, whose world champion Sebastian K was retired to stud during special on-track ceremonies during the card, is also the trainer of Centurion ATM, a son of SJs Caviar, who is owned by Courant A B and Knutsson Trotting Inc. (Sebastian K’s sponsors).
Muscle Diamond, second in the Breeders Crown at the end of last year but slow to find top form this season, may have turned a corner in the $100,000 Consolation II, coming from second-over to win a five-horse across-the-track finish in 1:53.2, equalling his lifetime mark while defeating Cruzado Dela Noche by three-quarters of a length.
Hall of Fame nominee Charles Keller III is a co-owner of the son of Muscle Hill with trainer Brett Bittle, Dan Bittle, and Charles Keller IV.
Bettor Be Steppin added another Pocono stakes victory to her resume with a front-striding 1:50 effort in the $350,000 Valley Forge for three-year-old pacing fillies.
The 15-1 Lynch upsetter returned to The Downs and nearly wired her rivals as the even-money favourite this time out, in the first of three main events on the card. Leaving from post four, Bettor Be Steppin took the lead through a :26.1 opening panel and then secured a second quarter breather to the half in :55.4. From there, the Joe Holloway trainee was able to keep first over rival Sassa Hanover (Yannick Gingras) at bay through three-quarters in 1:22.4 and hold off Momas Got A Gun (Jim Morrill Jr.), who closed in the passing lane for second-place. Sassa Hanover finished third.
"I drew in a good spot and with Moonlit Dance not being in there [scratched] this race I was hoping that I would be able to control it," said Callahan of his decision to race on the front end this time. "She likes the lead and everything worked out perfect. I figured if I could get a little breather in there anywhere, she would be ready to take on all challengers, so it worked out."
The Bettors Delight filly shaved four-fifths of a second off her lifetime mark. She is owned by Val Dor Farms, Rojan Stables, and Theodore Gewertz.
Single Me, who missed just a nose in the Lynch final at Pocono earlier this year, came out of the pocket at headstretch and drew off in the lane for a one and three-quarter length victory in the $150,000 Consolation I in 1:51, a career mark.
But it was a move that driver Andy Miller didn’t make -- a threatened quarter-move -- that caused Ideal Nuggets to park Seeking Nirvana in a brutal fight through fast numbers, easing the way for the late winning move of the Bettors Delight filly, trained by Ross Croghan for Dana Parham and the Let It Ride Stables Inc.
The Art Major filly Invest In Art was the fourth -- and final -- lead change in the $75,000 Consolation II, and despite the hard usage in the furious :53.4 first half, driver Tim Tetrick kept her alive in the lane to withstand Strut My Stuff (leader one) and Southwind Roulette (leader three) while taking a 1:49.3 new speed badge, which also rewrote the North American season’s mark.
The Ontario-based team of trainer Mark Steacy and owners Stan Klemencic, David Reid, David McDonald, and Landmark 7 Racing Stable saw their filly win her stateside debut.
E L Titan and driver Tim Tetrick made a three-wide move from fifth-place on the final turn and overtook JL Cruze and Resolve in the stretch to win Saturday’s $100,000 Sebastian K Invitational for older trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
E L Titan won in a lifetime-best 1:51.2, beating Resolve by a head. Daylon Miracle finished third and JL Cruze was fourth, snapping the four-year-old’s 12-race win streak. JL Cruze was making his first start since the Hambletonian Maturity on July 18.
Early leader Resolve led the field to the quarter in :27. JL Cruze took the top spot prior to the half, reached in :55.3, while Natural Herbie made a first-over challenge and moved into third place. E L Titan, who started from post eight, followed Natural Herbie in the outer flow before making his bid for the front as the group hit three-quarters in 1:23.2.
Resolve moved to the inside in the stretch and was the first to overtake JL Cruze, but was unable to hold off E L Titan on the outside.
“I was hoping it would go like that,” winning trainer Riina Rekila said about E L Titan’s trip. “The eight-hole, I don’t like. He can leave, but in these kinds of races you can’t leave like crazy from the eight-hole. I was hoping for something like that and it went exactly like I was hoping. It was perfect.”
Rekila, who is based in Canada, was listed to drive E L Titan, but was planning to find another driver for the race.
“I don’t drive Pocono too often and in big races I think it’s good that you know the track and you know the other drivers,” Rekila said. “I can drive him in some of the smaller races.”
E L Titan, a four-year-old son of Muscle Hill sent off at odds of 9-1, won for the first time in three races this year. He was slow to return to action this season because of doing stallion duty.
“He was breeding until July,” Rekila said. “It’s very stressful for the horses so I didn’t want to bother him too much. And he had a little allergies too so I didn’t want to stress him too much.
“I think he’s much better when it gets cold. I try to give him time to recover after every race. It’s hard to go :51. You have to give him time to rest, especially in the summertime. I don’t think in the winter he cares. He really likes the winter.”
E L Titan has won seven of 16 races in his career and earned $667,147.
The Sebastian K Invitational honoured recently retired Sebastian K. A special ceremony, with Sebastian K in attendance, along with co-owner Michael Knutsson of Knutsson Trotting Inc., was held in the winner’s circle prior to the race.
"It's always very emotional," said Knutsson during the retirement ceremony held just 20 yards from wire where Sebastian K set the all-age trotting world record of 1:49 last year. "He's nine years old, he has given us so much pleasure in both continents -- in Europe and Sweden and here in the U.S. -- so it's really emotional. It's an end of a fantastic career."
Knutsson, who shares ownership of the Korean-Gabriella K stallion with his brother Tristan Sjöberg, thanked Pocono for embracing their trotting star and hosting the Sebastian K Invitational.
"Everything has an end," said trainer Ake Svanstedt. "I am happy and I can say thank you to the owners that I had Sebastian K in my barn for three years. We had a lot of fun with him."
As previously announced, Sebastian K will stand at Hanover Shoe Farms beginning with the 2016 breeding season. Hanover's President Jim Simpson was present for the ceremony and commented on the older stallion joining the farm's roster.
"Well, we're excited about it," he said. "He's the fastest trotting stallion in the world and we're going to give him a great chance."
"I hoped I'd see a trotter beat 1:50, but I didn't think it'd be done on a five-eighths mile track, but he's that good," said Simpson.
Always At My Place made an early move to the lead after the :26.1 quarter and blasted middle fractions of :53 and 1:20 before freezing the timer in 1:47.2 in the $50,000 USTA Invitational Pace -- a clocking beaten only by Sweet Lou (1:47 at Pocono) in five-eighth-mile track history.
The four-year-old gelded son of Always A Virgin rewrote Mach It So’s divisional world record (1:48, also set at Pocono) under hustling by driver Matt Kakaley in notching his sixth straight victory and achieving the amazing clocking for trainer Ron Burke (winning both pacing Invitationals) and the partnership of Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Karr, and Phil Collura.
The $3,500 yearling purchase Cinamony, a Lynch elimination winner at Pocono last year and prospering even more this season since being acquired by top trainer Ron Burke, won the night’s opener, the $50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Invitational mares pace, in a personal-best and North American season’s record of 1:49.3.
The four-year-old daughter of Art Official moved to the lead in front of the stands for driver Yannick Gingras and held sway from there, stepping home in :27 to win by one and three-quarter lengths for Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi.
(With files from PHHA/Pocono/HRC)