Bright sunshine adorned Sunshine Meadows for the FSBOA sponsored Sunshine State Stakes on Saturday with second round action producing five repeat winners, including a pair of two year-olds.
The juveniles were first to perform and Famous C, driven by Wally Hennessey, took top honours in the filly trot, wearing down a stubborn Atlantic Coast (Sergio Corona) by three-parts-of-a-length in a sparkling 2:00.3, knocking a full five seconds off of her maiden win one week ago in her debut.
Trained by Marc Aubin for Amante Standardbreds, Famous C, a daughter of Famously, came home in :29.3 to earn the win.
Bonnie Blue Banker and Charming Gator completed the order of finish in the quartet.
Trainer Aubin has driver/trainer victories in seven different decades, having garnered his first win back in the late 1950’s.
In the two year-old event for trotting colts and geldings, Jay and Kim Sears’ Azzaro, a son of Proud Bushy, stalked pacesetting Im Done (Tom Lehmann) and went on to score an astounding victory measuring 24-1/4 lengths in 2:10.3 for his maiden victory.
Jay was in the bike for trainer/wife Kim, who picked up her 518th career training win. Jay now has 1,527 career driving wins.
Gator Glide was third in the trio.
In the two year-old filly pace, Gold Star Aurora, given smart handling by Wally Ross Jr., led every step of her 2:03.3 lifetime-best mile and sealed her festivities with a :29.2 panel to pin a seven and a half length defeat on Tay Tay M (Wally Hennessey), who closed along the inside to nip Golden Diamond (Bill Owens) for place honours.
Gold Dust Darling and Millerlands Anna completed the line-up.
Gold StarAurora is a daughter of Rock On trained by Maggie Audley for owner Marianne Audley.
Just a few minutes later, the Audley-Audley team doubled their pleasure as the two-year-old Gold Star Bugsy, also handled by Wally Ross Jr., won the colt-gelding event for pacers with a 1:59.1 score.
This son of Rock On left with alacrity for the early lead, yielded to Maybe Ned (Bryce Fenn) and stalked that one through panels of :29, :59.2 and 1:29.4 before inheriting the lead as Maybe Ned made a brief miscue turning for home.
The margin of victory was three and a half lengths over Maybe Ned with Moon Doggie (Rob Hoffman) third. Fabiano and Gold Star Spider were next in the sextet.
Three-year-olds took the stage next, trotting fillies first, and Amante Standardbreds' All Star Fame, a daughter of Famously, was a repeat winner for driver/trainer Sergio Corona.
Leading from first stride to the final one, All Star Fame led through well rated panels of :30, 1:01.2 and 1:31.4 before feeling some heat--briefly--turning for home from Im For Sale before the latter made a miscue.
Striding comfortable home, All Star Fame scored by 10-1/4 lengths over Trottime Fool (Hennessey) with Im For Sale (Lehmann) next in the trio.
Sophomore pacing fillies were in the sunlight next and Mike Biel’s Diamond Lily, driven by Wally Hennessey for trainer Kim Sears, rallied bravely in the final stages to nail Caitlins Romance by a length in 1:57.2.
Gold Star Lovebug (Joe Sanzeri) was next over Yule Love It.
A daughter of Six Of Diamonds, Diamond Lily, recently racing at Tioga Downs, earned her second lifetime win.
'Lily' let Caitlins Romance carve out all of the panels--:29, :58.3 and 1:27.2--was shuffled back a notch as Gold Star Lovebug challenged in the lane and then shifted widest of all to nail down the win in the final few strides.
Next, in the three-year-old trot for colts and geldings, Proud Joe T, a winner last week in leg one of the Sunshine State Stakes in 2:02.3, knocked a tick off that this time around, scoring in 2:02.2 for driver Rob Hoffman, in the bike for lessee/trainer Dave Myrick.
Leaving from the outside post in the sextet, Proud Joe T wended his way into third early, moved into second around the final bend and proceeded to, once again, wear down the leader, Rexamillion (Hennessey), in the final stages.
Pacific Nitro (Jim Hysell) was third followed by Savin Rock with Last Chance Fame earning the final award in the field of six.
After the event, driver Hoffman related, “He’s always been a nice horse with potential and, now that he’s learned to relax a bit more, we are hoping his best days are still ahead.”
The Sunshine State Stakes finale, for three year-old pacing colts and geldings, went to Gleneagles, scoring his second straight win for Wally Hennessey--this one in 1:58--:57.4-:28.1.
Six lengths away in second was R Chism (Sears) with Danze (Hoffman) next in the trio.
Trained by Dan Hennessey for the J L Benson Stable, Gleneagles, last year’s Florida champion in his juvenile division, earned his second win of the year in tuning up for the lucrative Florida Stakes season, which continues when Pompano Park opens for its 2016-2017 season on October 2.
Also on the program was the Tom Audley Memorial Invitational Pace, sponsored by the Audley Family and the FSBOA honouring the memory of one of the State’s leading breeders, trainers and owners, Tom Audley.
That event went to Metta World Peace, driven by trainer Joe Sanzeri for owners Keith Pippi and Thomas Pollack.
Leading every step of the mile, Metta World Peace, an altered three-year-old son of Rockin Image, clocked panels of :27.4, :58 and 1:26.4 before strolling home in :29.2 by two and a quarter lengths over Willies Guitar (Rick Schaut) with Dawns Desire (Hennessey) next. Irish Bride competed the roster.
Winners were awarded a special basket of “goodies” provided by Peak Performance while Finish Line Products did the same for the “runner-ups.”
Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Village General Manager Brandon Mills was ecstatic with the turnout and the entire event relating, “We certainly appreciate the great sponsorships we had today, including Amante Standardbreds, Florida Coast Equipment, Stall Master, Northwest Distributors, Meadowbrook Horse Transportation, Steve Farrell, Brookside Realty and, of course, Marianne and Maggie Audley.”