The $2.24 million Massachusetts Sire Stakes kicked off at Plainridge Park on Sunday (Sept. 26) with 31 three-year-olds competing in four divisions for a total of $480,000 in purses.
Each division went for $60,000 except for the three-year-old trotting colts, who were split into two $30,000 races.
Among the highlights from the first day of competition were Hall of Fame driver Yannick Gingras winning three of his four stakes starts with Moni For Lindy, Incommunicado and Mullinax, and So Amazing setting a new standard for sophomore pacing fillies.
The trotting fillies took to the track first in a non-betting event held before the regular pari-mutuel card and Moni For Lindy (Credit Winner-Live Moni) delivered as expected.
Yannick Gingras settled Moni For Lindy in third off the gate while Royal Envy (Nick Graffam) set a :58.1 tempo to the half. As the field came off turn two, Gingras tipped Moni For Lindy and flew to the front by three-quarters. From there, the filly trotted away from the field and cruised down the lane wrapped up, hitting the line in front by 7-1/4 lengths in 1:55.
Moni For Lindy is the fastest three-year-old trotting filly ever bred in Massachusetts on the strength of her 1:53.4 win at Vernon Downs in June and is now 11-for-11 in the money with six wins in 2021. She also continues to rack up cash this year with $241,377 now earned for owner Greathorse. Domenico Cecere trains the winner. Moni Maker Stable bred Moni For Lindy.
Next came the first set of trotting colts where Royally Raised (RC Royalty-Prospect) made an early break before making a first-over move pay off with a stakes victory.
Starting from post one, Royally Raised (Nick Graffam) got away last and then broke, while In The Cards (Shawn Gray) took the field through tepid quarters of :29.1 and :58.4. During that time, Graffam had gathered up Royally Raised and was motoring on the outside and advancing towards the leader with Lindys Booze Cruz (Drew Monti) on his back.
As the field moved past three-quarters, Royally Raised trotted past In The Cards and then Lindys Booze Cruz trotted alongside him. When they straightened out for home, Lindys Booze Cruze took a momentary lead, but Royally Raised came back on and then held off Lindys Booze Cruz at the wire to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:59.2.
The win was the win of the year and first lifetime stakes victory for Royally Raised ($4), who is owned by the George Ducharme Stable, Ray Campbell Jr., Eric Dickson and Linda Cimetti. Ducharme also trains the winner. Royally Raised was bred by Ray Campbell Jr.
The second set of trotting colts saw the defending two-year-old champion Incommunicado (Chapter Seven-Gran Cavalla) move one step closer to being a two-time champion after an impressive gate-to-wire win.
Gingras left authoritatively with Incommunicado and coasted through quarters of :28.3, :58.3 and 1:27.2. At that last station, Wally Watson pulled Billy B, who had been tracking the leader from second, and made a push for the front. Billy B continued to gain ground in the last turn but Incommunicado was too good and he pulled away in the stretch and won by a handy 3-1/2 lengths in 1:56.4.
In his first start since July 13, Incommunicado ($2.10) earned his third win of the year and increased his 2021 take to $145,015 for owners Knuttson Trottting, Little E, Arthur Geiger and David Stolz. Ake Svanstedt trains the gelding. Incommunicado was bred by the Moni Maker Stable
With the win purse, Incommunicado also became the 10th richest Standardbred ever bred in Massachusetts on the strength of his $346,390 lifetime earnings.
The three-year-old male pacers took the track next and Mullinax (American Ideal-Up Front Kellie Jo) looked in top form as he was never headed in victory, took a new lifetime mark and gave Gingras his hat trick.
Gingras sent Mullinax to the front and from there, he was closely tracked by Call Me Maverick (Mike Stevenson) the entire mile. After Mullinax got to the three-quarters in 1:25, Bumpah Stickah (Jimmy Hardy) came flying on the outside and got close to the leader. As the pace quickened around the last turn, Bumpah Stickah tried to keep up, but Mullinax was on a mission and paced away from him and Call Me Maverick to win by three in a lifetime-best 1:52.3.
Mullinax ($2.10) now has $114,547 in earnings for the year and $229,324 lifetime on the strength of this win for owner William Varney. Mark Ford trains the colt. Mullinax was bred by Ed Mullinax and Mark Ford.
Finally, a group of nine pacing fillies went behind the gate and So Amazing (So Surreal-Teddy Ballgirl) came away the best of the bunch and also set a new stakes record in the process.
So Amazing showed her speed as Bruce Ranger gunned the quarter in :26.3 to set the tone. With everyone in line, So Amazing then slowed the half to :56 before fielding a challenge from Purameri (Nick Graffam), who made her way to second at three-quarters. These positions remained the same around the last turn where So Amazing pulled away under Ranger urging and won by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:53.2, which was a new Massachusetts Sire Stakes record for three-year-old pacing fillies.
Scoring her seventh win of the year, So Amazing ($4.20) increased her earnings to $89,250 for owners Nancy Longobardi and Domenic Longobardi, who also bred the winner. George Ducharme trains So Amazing.
When racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday, Sept. 27, the $2.24 million Massachusetts Sire Stakes will continue and feature two-year-olds of both gaits and sexes who will compete for $480,000 in purses. Post time for the first race is 2 p.m.
(With files from Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts)