Ucandoit Blue Chip defeated fellow elimination heat winner Zanatta off a perfect pocket trip in the $255,000 final of the Jugette for three-year-old pacing fillies on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at the Delaware County Fair.
Following up her last-to-first 1:50.3 victory in her elimination earlier in the day, Ucandoit Blue Chip went right back out and delivered another winning performance in 1:50.2 to take the final just a few races later with Scott Zeron aboard for trainer Linda Toscano and owner Bill Elliott of Woodstock, Ont.
"She was exceptional in both," said Zeron, who won the Little Brown Jug in 2012 with Michaels Power and has now added the filly companion event to his resume. "In the first heat, I didn't have to use her that hard and the race kind of unfolded where it was going to help being off-the-pace. And the two-hole trip [in the final] worked out great."
With the inside draw in the second heat, Zanatta (Joe Bongiorno) had her foes lined up in post position order by the first turn. Zeron protected his position from post two to secure the pocket with Ucandoit Blue Chip and tracked Zanatta through fractions of :27.4, :55.4 and 1:22.4 before blowing by off the final turn to win the 53rd edition of the Jugette by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:50.2. Daffled Hanover (David Miller) rounded out the top three finish order.
"I dont think there were many options, we had to take the two-hole trip, but I was happy there were no flyers on the outside putting me third where I would have eventually been first-up and it would have been a tough trip," said Zeron. "Zanatta can really leave the gate really fast, I protected as much as I could and it was going to line up that way. It was on the move fairly early but we were on the gas pedal from the half on."
Bred by Blue Chip Bloodstock, the Keystone Velocity filly is out of the Camluck mare, Molly Can Do It.
"She is a good filly and it's kind of ice cream on the cake that her mom was my first Breeders Crown winner and now she's my first Jugette," said Toscano of Ucandoit Blue Chip.
"I can't say enough for the job that Linda and her whole crew has done with this filly," said Elliott. "It's just amazing. I'm speechless."
Ucandoit Blue Chip has won six of her 14 races this year and improved her lifetime record to 10-4-3 from 21 starts while boosting her bankroll to $560,835.
Ucandoit Blue Chip paid $5 to win as the 3-2 favourite.
Recaps of the Jugette elimination heats follow with coverage of Wednesday's undercard available by clicking here.
Field Set For Jugette Final
Early trailer Ucandoit Blue Chip pulled off a mild 5-1 upset in an action-packed opening elimination heat of the Jugette on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at Delaware County Fair.
It was a fierce battle from start to finish with five three-year-old pacing fillies vying for a spot in the $255,000 final to be contested later today. Ucandoit Blue Chip watched all the action from the back and picked off rivals down the backstretch the final time, taking off with late leader Daffled Hanover and sweeping by that rival near the wire in a two-horse breakaway for the 1:50.3 victory.
Scott Zeron worked out the winning trip in rein to the Keystone Velocity-Molly Can Do It filly for trainer Linda Toscano and owner Bill Elliott of Woodstock, Ont.
Bellisima Hanover (Todd McCarthy) left out from the inside post for the early lead with Vivians Dream (Yannick Gingras) leaving to her outside and eventually dropping into the pocket, while even-money favourite Earthwindfire (Tim Tetrick) was three-wide to the turn before progressing to the top and clearing after a sizzling :25.4 opening quarter.
Coming off the turn in front of the grandstand, McCarthy moved Bellisima Hanover back out for the retake and reached the half in :54. Vivians Dreams went first-up with Daffled Hanover (David Miller) following her cover into the backstretch while Ucandoit Blue Chip was gearing up from the back of the pack.
With Vivians Dream gaining a short lead as they passed three-quarters in 1:22.2, Daffled Hanover surged three-wide and took over in the final turn with Ucandoit Blue Chip hot on her heels. Those two took off from the rest of the field down the lane with Ucandoit Blue Chip sweeping by to win by 1-1/4 lengths. Earthwindfire was the best of the rest, finishing third over Vivians Dream and Bellisima Hanover.
"When I saw the quarter, I said, 'wow, are we in a good spot here right now, just keep marching girls,'" said Toscano after the race. "She came up, she got a great trip but she finished up real well too."
"I just want to let everybody know that the job that Linda and the whole crew -- Brad and everybody that works for her -- they do a tremendous job," noted Elliott. "She's top notch... It's like I'm floating on a cloud right now. This is hard to believe."
Ucandoit Blue Chip, who entered the Jugette off a second-place finish in the New Jersey Classic on Sept. 9, returned $12.80 to win.
She now has five wins from 13 starts this year and $246,942 in sophomore earnings.
In the second $25,000 Jugette elimination, the way the fillies lined up down the backside for the first time is how they finished, but the race was much more eventful than a single-file stroll for Zanatta.
Joe Bongiorno left from the rail to protect position with Zanatta, as Southwind Bella (Yannick Gingras) and Odds On Hail Mary (Scott Zeron) tried to advance from the outside of the gate. As the fillies landed and settled, Zanatta fronted Southwind Bella, Hey Hey Mama (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) and Odds On Hail Mary through a :26.3 opening panel.
From there, the movement began. Zeron right-lined from fourth with Odds On Hail Mary around the three-eighths mark and cleared Zanatta just after the :55.1 half. Gingras was on the move with Southwind Bella to pressure the 6-5 favourite and managed to push past after a sharp 1:21.4 third station.
As Southwind Bella applied pressure down the backside, Bongiorno vacated the pocket and positioned himself in striking distance to take his shot at the new leader. Southwind Bella fought back valiantly, but couldn't hold off Zanatta in the final strides of a 1:50.1 mile. Hey Hey Mama was sixth and last turning for home, but Wrenn found a seam for her up the pylons to finish third just ahead of Odds On Hail Mary.
"I think the world of her, and I'm very happy to be standing here right now," said trainer Jenn Bongiorno in the winner's circle. "When Joe let a horse go? I'm like, 'wow, this has to be the most un-Joe drive I've ever watched,' but I was really happy. I think he gave her the perfect drive and I think we're going into [the final] perfect."
Zanatta (Stay Hungry - Major Dancer) picked up her first win of the year, pacing back to her lifetime mark for owner One Legend Stable Inc. of Jupiter, Florida. She will surpass the $500,000 in career earnings with a cheque in the Jugette final.
She paid $6.20 to win.
Post positions for the Jugette final are listed below.
1. Zanatta - Joe Bongiorno
2. Ucandoit Blue Chip - Scott Zeron
3. Southwind Bella - Yannick Gingras
4. Daffled Hanover - David Miller
5. Earthwindfire - Tim Tetrick
6. Hey Hey Mama - Ronnie Wrenn Jr.
7. Odds On Hail Mary - Scratched
8. Vivians Dream - Brett Miller
Watch The 2023 Jugette
The 53rd edition of the $305,000 Jugette for three-year-old pacing fillies headlines Wednesday's 22-race card at the Delaware County Fair and live streaming of all the action will be available.
The $255,000 Jugette final will cap off the action-packed afternoon as Race 22, featuring the top four finishers from a pair of elimination heats contested earlier in the day (Races 18 & 19).
Earthwindfire is the 2-1 morning line favourite in the first elimination and will leave from post four with Tim Tetrick listed to drive for trainer Brett Pelling.
Zanatta is the early 5-2 favourite with the inside draw in the second elimination for the driver-trainer, brother-sister team of Joe and Jenn Bongiorno. The second elimination includes Odds On Hail Mary and Beautiful Seaside, both supplemented for $15,000.
The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association will present a live stream of Wednesday’s 22-race card, which will begin at 11:40 a.m. Post time for the first race is 12 noon. The live stream is available here.
Click here for free program pages.
The complete fields for the elimination heats are listed below in post position order.
$25,000 Jugette Elimination #1 - Race 18
Post - Horse - Driver - Trainer - Morning Line Odds
1. Bellisima Hanover - Todd McCarthy - Tony Alagna - 5-2
2. Vivians Dream - Yaninck Gingras - Kevin Lare - 9-2
3. Daffled Hanover - David Miller - Randy Bendis - 7-2
4. Earthwindfire - Tim Tetrick - Brett Pelling - 2-1
5. Ucandoit Blue Chip - Scott Zeron - Linda Toscano - 7-2
$25,000 Jugette Elimination #2 - Race 19
Post - Horse - Driver - Trainer - Morning Line Odds
1. Zanatta - Joe Bongiorno - Jennifer Bongiorno - 5-2
2. Hey Hey Mama - Ronnie Wrenn Jr. - Brian Brown - 4-1
3. Beautiful Seaside - Brett Miller - Melby Ober Jr. - 6-1
4. Tarapasta - Aaron Merriman - Todd Luther - 4-1
5. Southwind Bella - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 4-1
6. Odds On Hail Mary - Scott Zeron - Linda Toscano - 3-1