Its Academic Equals Hoosier Record In Caesars Trotting Classic

Its Academic winning at Hoosier Park
Published: September 22, 2023 11:48 pm EDT

Canadian-owned Its Academic matched the fastest trotting mile in the history of Harrah's Hoosier Park in the $210,000 Caesars Trotting Classic, highlighting the Grand Circuit stakes action on Friday, Sept. 22 in Indiana.

Driven by David Miller for owner Brad Grant of Milton, Ont., the Ron Burke-trained Its Academic equalled the 1:50.3 trotting track record set by Whata Swan in May 2022.

Sent postward as the 4-5 favourite, Its Academic left alongside Take All Comers (Tim Tetrick) in the evening's final Grand Circuit test and cleared to command through a :26.2 opening quarter with a parked Pretender (Dexter Dunn) pressing on to take over down the backstretch.  Miller was content to follow in the pocket through middle splits of :54.2 and 1:22.2 before taking off with Its Academic in the stretch. The double millionaire trotted by to win by 2-1/2 lengths with Take All Comers coming up the inside to take second. Lovedmythemasses (Todd McCarthy) nipped Pretender for third.

"I was just going to have him ready to leave and if they were going a lot harder, I was going to go to Plan B, but it worked out good," said Miller after the race. "He got to the lead, a big quarter, and then he got covered up and that's basically all I wanted.

"He's a real gentleman on and off the track and he's just got a big heart and a lot of desire, and I admire him."

The six-year-old son of Uncle Peter-Annapolis sports a seasonal summary reading 8-2-2 from 13 starts and has amassed $776,334 this year. The win was his 30th lifetime.    

It was a big night for Miller, who also scored Grand Circuit stakes wins with a pair of Joe Holloway-trained two-year-old pacers.

Undefeated two-year-old pacing colt Newsroom was swarmed in the stretch but managed to hold off rivals on both sides in the $110,000 The Elevation to keep his perfect record intact.

Miller looped 1-9 favourite Newsroom around early leader Martz Telly (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) after a :28 first quarter and posted soft middle fractions of :56.4 and 1:25 before coming under attack. In the stretch, the Always B Miki-Well Hello There colt held off Noblesville (Yannick Gingras) to his outside and Premier Romeo (Kyle Wilfong) along the pylons with Lou Vuitton (Tim Tetrick) and Martz Telly also in the blanket finish. The 1:51.4 quarter-length victory was the sixth straight win for Newsroom, who is trained by Holloway and owned by Val D Or Farms.

Driven by Miller, the lightly raced Blue Pacific bested Pennsylvania stakes star Lyons Legend in the $200,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies.

As 3-5 favourite Lyons Legend (Tim Tetrick) worked her way to the top past a :26.2 first quarter, Miller sent 5-2 second choice Pacific Blue right after her and cleared to command past the :55 half-mile mark. Pacific Blue spun for home, hitting three-quarters in 1:23.2, and kept Lyons Legend at bay when that one popped out at the head of the stretch, widening by three lengths at the end of the 1:50.2 mile. Early leader Direction (Todd McCarthy) followed in third.

Following up her maiden-breaking victory in the New Jersey Classic Series final earlier this month, Pacific Blue is now two-for-three in her career as she dropped a fifth of a second from her lifetime mark. Holloway trains the Sweet Lou-Miss Jones filly, who is also owned by Val D Or Farms.

In an action-packed edition of the $175,000 Harrah's Hoosier Pacing Derby, Allywag Hanover got the first call and the last.

It was non-stop action in the Derby as the free-for-all pacers traded blows on the front-end from start to finish. 

Driven by Todd McCarthy, Allywag Hanover left well from post four with Hellabalou (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) also leaving to his outside going wide into the first turn and crossing to command over insider Ponda Warrior (Kyle Wilfong). Allywag Hanover forged on to the front past the :25.2 quarter mark then Little Rocket Man (John De Long) and Lous Pearlman (David Miller) traded turns on the lead as the pace remained hot through a :53 half and three-quarters in 1:20. 

Lous Pearlman fronted the field turning for home with 2-5 favourite Bythemissal (Yannick Gingras) hot on his heels and closing in while Ponda Warrior shot up the inside, but McCarthy had Allywag Hanover flying on the far outside to get up for the 1:47.3 victory by a half-length. Lous Pearlman was second over Ponda Warrior and Little Rocket Man with Bythemissal completing the top five.

"I was in the mix there early and I didn't love my spot in the first turn," said McCarthy in a post-race interview. "I was still off the rail and I was trying get a couple around me to get away close where I still wanted to be, but there was more that kept coming than what I thought and it still worked out. Off the turn, I got to slid out on Yannick's back and I was pretty happy with that."

A career winner of more than $2 million, the six-year-old Captaintreacherous-Anderosa Hanover gelding picked up his third victory of the season from 11 starts for Allywag Stable. The speedy pacer is trained by Brett Pelling, who went over the $70 million mark in North American earnings on Friday night.

Allywag Hanover paid $10.80 to win as the 9-2 second choice.

One week after winning the Hoosier Cup, three-year-old pacing colt Why Not Now was right back it with a 1:48.2 career-best performance to take the $127,500 Jennas Beach Boy.

Why Not Now and driver Lewayne Miller got the first call leaving from post five and cleared to command into a sizzling :25.2 opening quarter before giving way to the pocket-popping 3-5 favourite, Christchurch (Yannick Gingras). But after middle splits of :53.3 and 1:21, Why Not Now re-took the lead in the stretch and held off Coach Stefanos (Trace Tetrick), who rallied off cover and shot to his inside down the lane. Christchurch held on in a photo for show.
Winless in nine starts as a freshman, the Always A Virgin-Star Of The Show colt has put together a sophomore record reading 6-4-2 from a dozen starts for trainer Dylan Davis and partners Howard Taylor and Jeffrey Billings.

Helpfirstedition and John De Long caught the front-striding Ponda Jet in deep stretch to win the $100,000 Phil Langley Memorial for three-year-old trotting colts in a new lifetime mark of 1:51.3.

 Ponda Jet (Kyle Wilfong) crossed to command from the far outside into the first turn and set fractions of :26.1, :55 and 1:23.4 before Helpfirstedition, who left from post six and was shuffled to third early on, launched his attack and got up in deep stretch to score by a neck with Ponda Jet holding second in a photo with Point Of Perfect (Yannick Gingras), who closed inside.

Unraced as a two-year-old, Helpfirstedition nows sports a record reading 6-7-2 from 16 starts for trainer Melissa Essig. The Helpisontheway-She Knows Swagger gelding is owned by Ervin Wickey, John Graber, Running Wild Stables and John Schmucker.

Coming off three consecutive runner-up finishes in Indiana Sire Stakes action, Helpfirstedition was the 5-2 co-favourite with Pennsylvania stakes winner Once In A Lifetime, who broke stride behind the gate. He paid $7 to win.

Southwind Cherry pulled off a 12-1 upset in the $152,000 Moni Maker for three-year-old trotting fillies, downing 1-2 favourite Instagram Model in the stretch for the 1:53.3 triumph.

Trace Tetrick and Southwind Cherry got away fourth behind Instagram Model (Andrew McCarthy) and watched as the bettors' choice forged to the front after a :27.1 opening quarter. Instagram Model reached the half in :56 and continued to lead past three-quarters in 1:25.1. As early leader Fashion Annie (Tim Tetrick) took aim from the pocket, she broke stride, but Southwind Cherry was able to track down her target as she rallied by through the stretch for the biggest win of her career. Finishing 2-1/2 lengths behind, Instagram Model settled for second with Heart On Fire (Todd McCarthy) closing for third.

With trotting hopples boosting her confidence, Southwind Cherry picked up her fifth win of the season from 14 starts and returned $27 for the upset. Jeff Cullipher trains and co-owns the Muscle Hill-Counter Pointe miss with Pollack Racing.

R Melina battled past race leader Ponda Title in a two-horse breakway down the stretch to take the $260,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies in 1:53.1.

Driven by Tim Tetrick, R Melina tracked Ponda Title (Kyle Wilfong) from the pocket through fractions of :27, :56.4 and 1:26 before taking aim for the stretch duel. Those two took off from the rest of the field turning for home, with R Melina prevailing by 1-1/4 lengths at the end. Dozen (Scott Zeron) journeyed first-over from the backfield to round out the top three finish order more than six lengths behind.

Making amends for a break in the New York Sire Stakes championship two weeks ago, the Chapter Seven-Goodtogo Hanover filly took a new lifetime mark winning for the fifth time in seven starts for trainer John Butenschoen and owners M And L Of Delaware and Alabama Harness Associate. The 4-1 third choice paid $10.20 to win.

The $30,000 consolation was won by 27-1 longshot Chapalonia (Chapter Seven-Avalonia), who sprinted home in :26.4 to upset the front-striding favourite, Honeys Sweet, in 1:55.3 for her second and fastest career win in six starts. David Miller worked out the winning trip for trainer Annie Stoebe and owner R L Curry.

Once Gruesome Twosome made front, there was no catching the 9-5 favourite in the $100,000 Madison County for two-year-old trotting colts.

After a contested :28 opening quarter, the multiple Indiana Sires Stakes winner cleared to command and cruised through middle splits of :57.2 and 1:26.4 en route to a 2-1/2-length victory in 1:54.2 to add the Madison County to his resume, which now reads 7-5-1-0. Trainer/driver Daryl Bontrager shares ownership of the You Know You Can Do It-All Set Lets Go colt with Ira Steinberg. Topmost (John De Long) followed in second and Elhelpski (Peter Wrenn) finished third.

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