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Bluegrass Series Continues

Published: September 26, 2014 7:48 pm ET

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The Red Mile's Grand Circuit meet continued on Friday night with two-year-old pacing fillies and two-year-old trotting colts featured in the Bluegrass Series spotlight.

Two-Year-Old Pacing Fillies

The "Crawford Farms" two-year-old filly pace was split into three divisions, ranging in purses of $95,200 to $96,200, with the popular Bettor Be Steppin kicking off the Friday Grand Circuit stakes action.

After getting away third from her outside assigned post seven through a :27.3 first panel, the 1-9 favourite made a quarter pole move under the command of Corey Callahan to take over the lead from the quick-leaving Hillarys Style (David Miller).

Bettor Be Steppin then led the field through middle splits of :55.3 and 1:25.2 with Rock Her World (Tim Tetrick) advancing first over from fifth.

However, Bettor Be Steppin kept her rivals at bay as she cruised into the stretch, and despite drifting off the pylons a bit, was still over a length clear on top at the finish line in a career-best 1:52 flat. Hillarys Style was the runner-up and Rock Her World finished third.

"I had to use her a little bit there to get to the lead, and through the last turn I was able to get a real nice breather," said Callahan after the race. "When I called on her, she stepped away. I think she had more if I needed it."

Trained by Joe Holloway, the Bettors Delight-Two Steppin Sally filly is riding a three-race win streak, which includes victories in the Kentuckiana Stallion Management and Reynolds Stakes. The $70,000 Lexington Selected Sale yearling is owned by Val Dor Farms, Rojan Stables, and Theodore Gewertz.

New York Sire Stakes competitor Sassa Hanover was a winner in her first Grand Circuit stakes event, drawing off by nearly three lengths to a 1:51 victory.

Crescent City (David Miller) moved around early leaver Shes Heavenly (Mike Lachance) after a :28-second first quarter. But as the new leader cleared, driver Yannick Gingras made his move with Sassa Hanover from fourth and the duo edged by at the half in :56.

Sassa Hanover, the 6-5 second choice, then hit three-quarters in 1:24.3 before sprinting away from her foes down the lane. Slight favourite Heavenly Bride (Brian Sears) came on for second while Crescent City finished third.

Ron Burke trains the Rock N Roll Heaven-Sayo Hanover filly, who went six-for-eight in NYSS competition prior to her career-best performance in the Bluegrass.

“Ronnie told me just to draw a line through that start,” said Gingras of the filly’s fifth place effort in the NYSS Championship last time out. “The track was bad and a big half of :56 -- like a :53 half on a regular night -- so just forget about it. We were planning on racing her from the back, but getting away fourth, if I come first up I carry Brian right into the race so I decided to move her to the front.

"She had some left," he added. "I had the plugs still in. I just showed her the whip a little bit to keep her [attention]. She had some pace left."

Burke shares ownership of Sassa Hanover, a $50,000 Lexington Select Sale purchase, as part of Burke Racing Stable with The Panhellenic Stable Corp. Weaver Bruscemi and Lawrence Karr.

Ideal Nuggets produced a whopping $249.20 win payout with a stunning maiden-breaking victory in the other two-year-old pacing filly division.

Driven by David Miller, the Ed Lohmeyer trainee crossed over from post seven into the opening turn and then gave way to the oncoming Bedroomconfessions (Scott Zeron), who cleared at the :27.4 quarter pole.

Ideal Nuggets played "follow-the-leader" through middle splits of :56.1 and 1:23.4 and shook loose in the stretch with Bedroomconfessions drawing clear of first over attacker Shakai Hanover (Tim Tetrick). With the wire approaching, Ideal Nuggets surged by the pacesetter to prevail in 1:50.4. Divine Caroline (Corey Callahan) rallied off cover to edge out Bedroomconfessions in a photo for second.

Robert and Lauren Tucker's homebred Western Ideal-Rough Sketch filly had hit the board in six of her seven career starts prior to her speedy score in the Bluegrass, in which she came within three-fifths of a second of the world record.

Two-Year-Old Trotting Colts & Geldings

Overcoming an outside post eight start, Southwind Stryker kicked off the "Walnut Hall" two-year-old colt and gelding trot, upsetting favourite Centurion Atm in a photo finish in the first of five divisions, which carried purses ranging from $78,400 to $79,400.

The Muscle Hill-Soxee Lady colt's 1:53.4 maiden-breaking triumph was just two-fifths of a second off the world record. Brad Maxwell co-owns and trains the winner with fellow Ontario owners Douglas Millard and Paul Van Camp, and Pennsylvania's Howard Taylor.

Walter White (Yannick Gingras) floated out to the lead from post five through a :28.3 first panel and opened up three lengths on top down the backstretch en route to the half in :57.3.

Meanwhile, 1-5 favourite Centurion Atm (Ake Svanstedt) tipped out from fourth with 4-1 second choice Southwind Stryker and catch-driver Tim Tetrick following the cover.

Walter White trotted on past the three-quarters mark in 1:26 with pressure mounting in the form of Centurion Atm, who eventually edged by in the stretch. However, Tetrick had Southwind Stryker ready to strike and the colt surged to the wire to nab the victory by a head. Centurion Atm settled for second-place. Whataworkout (Scott Zeron) finished third off a pocket trip, but was placed fourth for a lapped on break. As a result of the placing, Wicker Hanover (Ron Pierce), who closed from third over, inherited third prize.

"If I'd have been third over it would have been tough to catch [Centurion Atm], but the trip worked out perfect," said Tetrick, who drove Southwind Stryker for the first time. "My colt did his job and got the job done. He gets paid for it."

The win was Southwind Stryker's first following a top-three finish in the William Wellwood Memorial Trot.

Undefeated Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion Billy Flynn scored a front-stepping victory in the second Bluegrass division.

"He's done everything right so far and I hope he can stay on track," commented Staffan Lind, who trains the perfect colt for Bender Sweden Inc.

Driven by Brett Miller, Billy Flynn moved early to the lead around Gabe The Bear Dean (Ray Schnittker) and hit the first quarter mark in :29.2. He was unchallenged as he trotted to the half in :58.1, but Muscle Diamond (John Campbell) began to advance first over from mid-pack during the third panel. Billy Flynn reached the three-quarters mark in 1:28.3 and fought off Muscle Diamond down the stretch for the half-length triumph in 1:55.4. Progression (Mark MacDonald) rounded out the top three finishers.

"It's a long season -- a lot of races for them -- so whenever you can steal one it's good," noted Lind after the race, referring to the comfortable fractions.

The Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones colt had a $120,000 price tag as a yearling, selling at the Lexington Select Sale, and has since banked over $312,000 in eight wins.

Driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke teamed up for another Bluegrass victory with overwhelming favourite Habitat scoring a 1:53.4 career-best triumph.

Canappealformore (Ake Svanstedt) fired to the lead from post five before the first turn, but Honor And Serve (Tim Tetrick) trotted up to take over command by the first quarter mark, which was reached in :28.2.

Gingras then brushed 1-5 favourite Habitat from third to first down the backstretch and went relatively unchallenged until deep stretch. Habitat trotted by the half in :57.4 and three-quarters in 1:26.3 before holding off the pocket-pulling Honor And Serve and late-closing Cruzado Dela Noche (David Miller) by a length.

The son of Conway Hall and Habits Best, a $50,000 buy at the Lexington Select Sale, is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables and Weaver Bruscemi. He now has wins in five of his last six starts, including the William Wellwood Memorial Trot two weeks ago.

"I think he was as sharp [as he was in Canada], but he was maybe too sharp," said Gingras after the race when asked about his colt's diminishing lead in the stretch. "He was a little keen tonight. Usually he lets me do what I want with him -- he's usually two fingers to drive -- but he was a little wound up tonight and I think that cost him a little bit of energy. And you know, [1]:53.4 / :27.1, that's a real good mile.

"Coming to the top of the stretch I knew I had a big last quarter left in him, but Honor and Serve and that horse Dave was driving [Cruzado Dela Noche] are two quality horses as well. He was 1-5, but it was no 'gimme,' there was good horses in here."

Uncle Lasse rebounded from a miscue in the Wellwood with a career-best 1:54.1 triumph in the next Bluegrass division for driver Ron Pierce and trainer Jimmy Takter.

When the wings of the gate closed, Iron (Tim Tetrick) overtook Crazy Wow (Dan Rawlings), who broke stride shortly after, with Uncle Lasse also on the move early and the last to the lead just past the :28.2 first quarter mark.

Uncle Lasse proceeded to the half in :57.3 and three-quarters in 1:27 before opening up two lengths on top into the stretch en route to the victory over the hard-closing slight favourite, Guess Whos Back (Brian Sears). Sugarmakesmecrazy (Ake Svanstedt) journeyed first over to finish third.

"He was super sharp, a little on edge," said Pierce in a post-race interview. "He's good feeling colt, a little edgy, but his gait was flawless and he had plenty of trot."

Addressing Uncle Lasse's break in stride in the Wellwood last time out, Pierce explained, "I wound up going into the first turn a little too fast and his foot just got away from him a little bit."

The homebred Donato Hanover-Solveig colt is owned by Solveigs Racing Partners. He's a full-brother to millionaire trotting filly Shake It Cerry, who will be at The Red Mile for Sunday's Bluegrass Series action.

Takter returned to The Red Mile winner's circle after steering The Bank to a narrow score over Piercewave Hanover in the final Bluegrass division of the night.

One Direction (Ake Svanstedt) was quick off the gate, firing out to an early three length lead before the first turn. He reached the first quarter in :28.3 before Piercewave Hanover (Yannick Gingras) swept around him. Meanwhile, Smart As A Whip (John Campbell) broke stride from third and The Bank moved up into contention.

Piercewave Hanover trotted by the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:25.1. He looked to be the wrapped up winner as he opened up a couple of lengths on top off the final turn, but The Bank kept on coming and edged by for the half-length victory in deep stretch. Big Rich (Tim Tetrick) finished third.

The lightly raced homebred colt, who is sired by Donato Hanover and out of the Takter-trained millionaire mare Lantern Kronos, established a new lifetime mark of 1:53.4.

"I know my horse is extremely honest and I haven't used him at all," said Takter. "I kind of got a little bit messed up at the start. I didn't want to rush him out of the gate. He can leave very good, but I just felt like I wanted to race him from behind because he's not really sharp enough for cutting it, I thought.

"I'm especially happy because I trained the mother of this one, Lantern Kronos, and he's owned by a very good friend of mine, Goran Falk, and my wife [Christina]," added Takter. "The horse hasn't been good up to this it's really fun for Goran to see his horse racing this good."

Racing resumes on Saturday, September 27 with the $331,000 Bluegrass for two-year-old colt pacers, $185,200 Bluegrass for three-year-old colt pacers, and the $146,600 Bluegrass for three-year-old filly pacers. Post time is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT.

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