French Wine Upends Tactical Approach At The Red Mile

French Wine
Published: August 27, 2023 09:00 pm EDT

On Sunday (Aug. 27), Red Mile hosted two $80,000 third round divisions of the Kentucky Sire Stakes, three $30,000 third round divisions of the Kentucky Commonwealth Series and four $15,000 division of the Kentucky Golden Rod Series for freshman and sophomore male and female trotters and pacers on an 11-race card.

Kentucky champion French Wine (Andy Miller) outfooted Hambletonian victor Tactical Approach (Scott Zeron) at odds of 28-1 in his respective division and Better Is Nice (Andrew McCarthy) demonstrated the same blazing speed as the favourite in his $80,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes division.

Tactical Approach took command of the field of six began as he began his mile from the inside. He trotted a sizzling opening quarter-mile in :26.4 with French Wine travelling comfortably in fourth. Andrew McCarthy sent his charge, Ari Ferrari J, to clear the leader through a half-mile in :54.

Tactical Approach was poised to pounce tracking in second through the third split in 1:23 as French Wine continued to bide his time in fourth until the three-quarter pole.

When the sophomore male trotters hit the final turn and were ready for the battle to the wire, Miller asked his colt, and he responded by advancing into second position. But so did Tactical Approach. French Wine, however, had plenty in the tank to contest the last quarter-mile in :26.2 to defeat his foe by a half-length in 1:50 in a new lifetime best. Kilmister (Brian Sears) closed from sixth in the early stages to finish third. French Wine paid $59.68 to win.

Trained by Miller’s wife, Julie, French Wine’s career record now stands at 19-6-3-5 and he has banked $569,179. The son of Bar Hopping out of the 2008 Hambletonian Oaks winner, Creamy Mimi, picked up his second victory in 2023 in nine seasonal efforts.

Owned by Andy Miller Stable, Daniel Plouffe, Jean Christophe Plouffe and One Legend Stable, French Wine was a $120,000 purchase at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. He was bred by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.

New Jersey champion Better Is Nice (Bettors Wish-Thatsoververynice) proved to be unkind to his opposition in the division for freshman pacing colts. 

Leaving from the inside, Andrew McCarthy placed Better Is Nice in fourth as the field of six commenced their mile. Dancin Champion went straight to the front and clicked off fractions of :29.2, :57.2 and 1:25. Better Is Nice and his driver patiently waited to launch their bid.

That transpired when the field turned for home as Better Is Nice advanced into second at the top of the stretch. The colt unleashed a :25.4 final quarter-mile to overhaul Dancin Champion in the shadow of the wire to win in 1:51.3. Ivy Park (Yannick Gingras) was a length behind the winner in third.

Better Is Nice collected his fourth consecutive victory in his fifth start. His only loss was a third-place finish in his career debut in New Jersey Sire Stakes action.

Trained by Tony Alagna, Better Is Nice was purchased for $30,000 at the 2021 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale by Alagna Racing, Pryde Stables and Birnam Woods Farm. The colt, who has earned $218,600, was bred by Alagna Racing and Marvin Katz.

Better Is Nice paid $2.76 to win as the public’s top choice.

Prince Of Honor Remains Undefeated In Commonwealth Series

Prince Of Honor (A. McCarthy, $3.68) was shuffled back to eighth at the three-quarter pole but showed his class to prevail by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.3 to remain a perfect three-for-three on the season in first of two divisions for sophomore male trotters. The son of Walner-Princess Aurora is trained by Carter Pinske and owned by Pinske Stables and David Hoese.

Sparks Fly (Atlee Bender, $26.86) took advantage of a break by favourite Excalibur Bi (A. McCarthy) to score a mild upset at 12-1 in the second division, winning in 1:53.4. Trained by Erv Miller, the son of Bar Hopping is owned by Ervin Miller Stable and Douglas Overhiser.

Kissincaptain (Captaintreacherous-Yagonnakissmeornot) collected his second consecutive win in the sole division of this series slated for two-year-old male pacers, winning in 1:54. He paid $2.76 to win. Zeron was in the bike for Alagna.

Arson Scorches In Golden Rod Series

Arson (A. Miller, 1:53, $5.08) and Nuclear (A. Miller, 1:53.1, $23.78) won the divisions for two-year-old male pacers.

Morning Edition (Bender, 1:54.2, $4.96) and Chamba (Ake Svanstedt, 1:53, $3.16) captured the two divisions for sophomore male trotters.

Miller led all drivers with three stakes wins on the card.

Red Mile offers a rich buffet of wagering items including a 20-cent Pick-6 with 15 per cent takeout, a 50-cent Pick-5 with an industry low 12 per cent takeout, a Super Hi-5 15 percent takeout, and Pick-4 events, with a $10,000 guaranteed pool in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program.

Red Mile races on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday schedule with a 1 p.m. EDT post time through Oct. 8. 

(With files from The Red Mile)

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