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Sophomore PA Champs Crowned; Another Record For Homicide Hunter

Published: September 2, 2018 10:17 pm ET

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The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono featured the fireworks a day before the Labour Day holiday, as over $1.5 million was up for grabs in the championship and consolation events of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-olds and the Great Northeast Open Series Championships, the latter conducted at 1-1/4 miles.

($253,000 Championships for three-year-olds; $50,000 consolations [3PC consolation did not fill])


Phaetosive made her 1-20 backers wait until the stretch before beginning her high speed, but once in her favourite part of the track the daughter of Explosive Matter lived up to her sire’s name, kicking home sharply for the decision in 1:52.3 – faster than the 1:52.4 previous PaSS final male standard of Father Patrick which would be tied later in the evening by Crystal Fashion (Check Me Out became the program’s fastest-ever Championship trotting winner when she won in 1:51.3).

Trainer/driver Trond Smedshammer was content to keep his filly midpack as Live Laugh Love made the top just past the :27.1 quarter, then followed Seviyorum as that one moved uncovered just past the :56.1 half. Phaetosive stayed right behind her excellent cover to the lane, swung wide, and finished strongly to hold off a late-shaking-free Courtney Hanover by a length, with Lily Stride, who rallied up the inside in the stretch and may have had a nose in front mid-stretch, just photoed for the deuce.

The pride of the Purple Haze Stables LLC continued adding to her impressive credentials – five wins in seven starts this year, good for $397,864 (U.S.), and nine-for-14 lifetime, with a total accumulation of $657,717 (U.S.). No doubt she’ll be back up against Manchego, Atlanta, Plunge Blue Chip et al. soon.

Consolation -- Trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt wasted no time hustling the Cantab Hall filly S M S Princess to the lead, and that filly had a clear margin almost all the way through fractions of :27.2, :56.4, and 1:25 en route to a new mark of 1:52.3. No one could make up ground in the back numbers of :55.4 – :27.3 thrown by the $162,453 winner S M S Princess, 5-1/2 lengths clear for owners by Åke Svanstedt Inc. and Stall Musse Inc.


Kissin In The Sand had to take less air at Pocono than she did when she won the Lynch Championship here in June – she only got parked almost to the half here, instead of being out almost the whole mile – in making the PaSS Championship lead then keeping it to the wire to win her Sire Stakes final, equalling her Lynch clocking and her mark in 1:49.3.

The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere saw a great many foes leaving inside of her from her post position seven starting spot. She had cover past the :26.1 quarter to the 3/8ths then was asked to go on by driver Scott Zeron to get the lead shortly before the :54.1 half. Outside challenger Sidewalk Dancer began to melt back past the 1:21.3 third quarter mark and it turned out to be 31-1 shot Parisian Blue Chip, parked to the 3/8ths to gain command before yielding for the pocket, who rallied inside in the stretch, extending Kissin In The Sand, who dug down deep as usual and held on by a half-length.

Kissin In The Sand is trained by Nancy Johansson for owners Marvin Katz and the Hatfield Stables, who saw their prize filly improve her statistics to seven-for-10 and $570,381 (U.S.) this year and 14-for-24 and $801,556 lifetime. For driver Zeron, the win gave him a PaSS championship in both the two-year-old and three-year-old ranks.

Consolation – The Well Said filly Strong Opinion got a big breather while setting the pace in her event, getting to the half in :57.2, then sprinted home in :55.1, and needed all of it to hold off what looked like The Charge of the Light Brigade behind her late, winning by a half-length in 1:52.3 in a race where the top five were within a length of each other under the wire. Yannick Gingras guided the victorious Ron Burke pupil, who raised her earnings to $244,448 (U.S.) for the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC;,Jack Piatt II, Silva, Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.


In Crystal Fashion’s last seven victories, six of them have been by a length or less – and none of them was this second-over then wide grind in the Championship where she caught pacesetter Whats The Word by a nose in 1:52.4.

Whats The Word was sent by the top by Simon Allard and laid down fractions of :27, :56.2 and 1:24.2. Crystal Fashion was able to fashion a second-over trip for driver Tim Tetrick behind stablemate Patent Leather, but still was two lengths out near head-stretch. But the gutty Cantab Hall gelding doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase “end of the mile,” and he gained foot-by-foot to just prove more photogenic on the money.

Crystal Fashion, trained by Jim Campbell for Fashion Farms LLC, has eight wins and $652,182 (U.S.) in earnings this year, and a lifetime bankroll of $813,474. His 1:52.4 clocking equalled Father Patrick’s PaSS final standard, and he became the first point-winner to take a three-year-old Championship since 2016, and the first in the three-year-old trotting colt ranks since Magic Tonight in 2012.

Consolation – All three consolations wound up going in 1:52.3, two of the quick clockings by trotters, and both handled by trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt while winging on the front end. The male was the Cantab Hall gelding Gemologist, who never looked back from the rail in posting fractions of :27, :56 and 1:24, then finishing out to take a new mark while four lengths clear at the wire. The winner is owned by the S R F Stable. (Second was the two-year-old Stallion Series and Fair Sire Stakes champion Hockey Hanover; last year’s Sire Stake champion Fashionwoodchopper had to settle for fourth in this consolation.)


The favourites went 0-4 in the two-year-old ranks of the PaSS Championship the day before at The Meadows; Dorsoduro Hanover, who won his biggest race of the year, The Adios, at The Meadows, brought the chalk to 4-4 in the Pocono PaSS three-year-old Championships – but it was by the barest of margins over a strong-finishing Hayden Hanover.

Hayden Hanover was the first horse to get a call in the contest, but then yielded to Done Well nearing the :26.2 quarter. Done Well in turn ceded the lead to the Somebeachsomewhere gelding Dorsoduro Hanover and driver Matt Kakaley en route to the :54.2 half. This Is The Plan, a 49-1 shot, went first-over and just wouldn’t go away, not by the 1:22 three-quarters and not coming through the stretch. This posed traffic problems for Hayden Hanover, stuck third on the rail, but Andy Miller did a masterful job weaving first out to get clearance then just inside 'Dorsoduro' to lower that one’s margin with every late step, coming up short by a nose in the 1:49.4 mile.

Dorsoduro Hanover ran his 2018 bankroll to $687,362 (U.S.) with his seventh win of the year for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Silva, Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and the Winfield Five LLC.

Dorsoduro joined Crystal Fashion as point leaders who won their Championship; Matt Kakaley joined Scott Zeron as winners in the PaSS finales on both Saturday and Sunday, after taking the two-year-old filly pace with Sylph Hanover (also for Burke) at The Meadows.

As noted earlier, a consolation event for this division did not fill.

($100,000 purses; all at 1-1/4 miles)


The first horse to the lead in the Great Northeast Open Series mares pace was also the first horse under the wire, but in between there was a ton of movement before the Bettors Delight mare Bettorhaveanother came up the far inside to catch Caviart Ally by a neck, covering the 1-1/4 miles in 2:21.3, just shy of the divisional world record of 2:21 set by Marnie Hall in 2006.

Bettorhaveanother was circled off the first turn by Caviart Ally, who in turn ceded the lead to Tequila Monday. That mare was under attack the last of the two circuits, from in front of the stands to almost the mile marker by L A Delight, with favoured Shartin N circling up in her bid and Agent Q on her three-wide bumper.

But the inside turned out to be the place to be, as Caviart Ally collared the pacesetter in mid-stretch, only to see Bettorhaveanother rally from the third-in position up the deep Pocono Pike for driver Matt Kakaley to get the decision; those in the two and three-wide paths couldn’t sustain their gain. That set the stage for Bettorhaveanother, a winner of $430,977 (U.S.) who is trained by Ron Burke for the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.


To see a trotter come home in :54.1 – :26.4 under any circumstances is mighty impressive; to see it come in a 1-1/4 mile race (on a 5/8-mile track) is overwhelming – which is just how the foes chasing Homicide Hunter home must have felt.

The distance of a race must not matter to driver George Napolitano Jr. — he likes to make a move around the quarter and control the pace, and so things proceeded here, with very pedestrian fractions of :28.4, :58 and 1:28.1. Then they reached the backstretch the second time, and “George Nap” gave the word to the Chris Oakes trainee. Homicide Hunter took it from there, coming home in supersonic time to complete the distance in a world record 2:22.2, well ahead of the 2:24.1 produced by Magician in 2001, with Tight Lines 8-1/2 lengths back.

The Mr Cantab gelding Homicide Hunter, posting his third world record (4TG and OTG at a mile, all three on 5/8-mile tracks), has now won seven of 10 seasonal starts and 37 of 72 lifetime trips to the gate, with a career bankroll of $1,355,427 (U.S.). Crawford Farms Racing owns a trotter who looks like right now he can go with any trotter in North America, if not beyond.


Western Joe yielded to the early brushing favourite Donttellmeagain to sit the two-hole, then was sent up the famed Pocono Pike by driver Scott Zeron and caught the pacesetter by a neck in 2:20.2, just shy of the 2:19.4 set by Boulder Creek in 2006.

The son of American Ideal was out around the first turn to gain command, then yielded to Donttellmeagain after the :27.4 quarter and was content behind the next two splits of :56.1 and 1:52.4. When the pace quickened to get to the mile point in 1:52.4 and the outer tiers stalled on the far turn, it looked like a stretch battle between the 1-2 finishers, and indeed Western Joe rallied to the lead in deep stretch over the game pacesetter.

Western Joe had already shown a liking for added distance by taking the McKee Memorial on Hambletonian Day, and here he again showed the endurance to get the big money for trainer Chris Choate and owners Anthony Ruggeri and Richard Tosies.

An extra tip of the cap to Choate, who entered the winner of $503,551 (U.S.) despite being 26th in the standings – no one below #10 (ironically, Donttellmeagain) put in the box, so Western Joe drew in, and made the most of the opportunity.

(With files from PHHA/Pocono)

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