Im Your Captain converted a lengthy quarter-pole move to victory in 1:53.4, fastest in Monday’s $78,698 Keystone Classic at The Meadows. The stake for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters was contested over three divisions, with Mississippi Storm and Make It A Double taking the other divisions.
Im Your Captain entered the Keystone Classic off a victory in the Old Oaken Bucket at Delaware, and Miller drove him as if he were the best, launching that quarter-pole move from fourth.
“I thought he was as good as anything in there,” Miller said, “and I just didn’t want to rush him out of the gate and make a mistake. So I just moved him up the front side, and he did the rest. He finished with his earplugs in and kind of coasted. I just kept him to his task.”
The son of Muscle Hill-Frisky Strike drew off late to down Jackies Jim by 3-3/4 lengths, with Meadowbranch Ricky third. Andy Miller Stable and Black Horse Racing campaign Im Your Captain, who boosted his career bankroll to $128,373.
Mississippi Storm also entered the Keystone Classic off a strong performance — a victory in a Liberty Bell split — and he had little trouble muscling to the early lead and scoring in 1:54.2, a life mark. The pocket-sitting Mr Contestant was second, two lengths back, while Rich And Miserable rallied for show.
“I’d never driven him before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said winning driver Jim Pantaleano. “He was very handy. I kicked out the plugs at the head of the stretch, and he still had plenty left. I was happily surprised.”
Ton Fanning conditions the Cantab Hall-Mississippi Beauty gelding, who now has banked $153,908 for Joseph Smith.
Make It A Double stretched out 3-5 favourite Scirocco Rob before yielding to the pocket. That might have been the decisive move, as the Donato Hanover-Dodger Blues gelding overtook Scirocco Rob near the wire and defeated him by a length in 1:54.3. Stonebridge Gamble completed the ticket.
“I was stuck between horses, and I wanted a two-hole trip, so I kept going,” Miller said. “I had to use my horse and make the favourite work a little to get where I wanted to be. The horse trotted good late.”
Make It A Double lifted his lifetime earnings to $94,011 for Andy Miller Stable, Jason Allen and Douglas Allen. Miller indicated Im Your Captain and Make It A Double would be pointed to the Simpson for their final starts this year.
In the $20,000 Preferred Handicap Trot, Classicality zipped to the front from post 8 and collected a comfortable 2-1/2-length victory in 1:55.1 for Brian Zendt and owner/trainer Lisa Dunn. The eight-year-old Classic Photo-Penn Worthy Lane gelding won for the 50th time in his career and extended his career bankroll to $647,812.
Stake racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday, when the card features a $75,700 Keystone Classic for three-year-old filly trotters. First post is 1:05 p.m.