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Ducharme, Okusko Dominate Mass. Stakes

Published: September 27, 2021 8:11 pm ET

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The first leg of the $2.24 million Massachusetts Sire Stakes continued at Plainridge Park on Monday with the two-year-olds taking center stage in four divisions for a total of $480,000 in purses. Each division competed for $60,000 except for the trotting and pacing fillies who were each split into two $30,000 races.

Highlights from the afternoon's stake action included trainer George Ducharme capturing three stake victories while trainer Jessica Okusko sent out two winners of her own. And there was one major upset that returned a healthy payout to the betting public.

The first set of trotting fillies became a race between Maliziosa Lindy (Bruce Ranger) who cut the mile, and Wonderwall Lindy (Jay Randall) who stalked the leader for the first three-quarters of the race. Heading into the last turn, Randall tipped Wonderwall Lindy, took the lead and held off a rallying Maliziosa Lindy at the wire where she won in a lifetime best 1:58.2.

Wonderwall Lindy (Walner-Lindysleadinglady), who returned $2.60 for the win, is owned by Jim Winske, David Winske, Stephen Michaels and Keith Cluff and is trained by George Ducharme.

Lindy Farms of Connecticut bred Wonderwall Lindy.

The second filly trot went pretty much as expected - that is until the three-quarter pole. Moni Heist (Yannick Gingras) led the field to that point until stablemate Pardon My Lindy (Bruce Ranger) challenged for, and then took the lead. Immediately after, Moni Heist broke and then Pardon My Lindy broke, leaving Grateful Express (Drew Campbell) with the lead. Heading down the stretch, Tennessee Lindy (Nick Graffam) took a late lunge at the leader, but Grateful Express was game and dug in to win by a length in 1:59.1.

Paying $13.20 in the mild upset, Grateful Express (Cantab Hall-Touch Girl Lindy) notched her third lifetime win for owners James De Armond and Sal Vullo. Jessica Okusko is the trainer.

Grateful Express was bred by K R Breeding.

The first group of pacing fillies was very competitive early as Dudes Sweet Bet (Shawn Gray) made a strong first-over move from fourth at three-eighths to take the lead from Wolverina (Nick Graffam), who had cut the quarter in :28.4. These two distinguish themselves from the rest of the field by the time they reached the last turn and when they hit the stretch, Graffam tipped Wolverina and drew alongside Dude's Sweet Bet. The two paced furiously to the line with Dudes Sweet Bet getting the late advantage by a neck in 1:55.3.

Going off the heavy favourite and returning $2.20, Dudes Sweet Bet (Dudes The Man-Sweet Bettor) scored her second lifetime win for owners/breeders Triple C Stables and Chris Lems. Jessica Okusko is the trainer.

In the second stanza, So Flo (So Surreal-Teddy Ballgirl) kept her mind on her business and put together the best race of her life. Driver Frank Affrunti put So Flo right on the point and played catch me if you can from there. After cutting fractions of :27.3, :58.1 and 1:26.3, So Flo turned for home and was gone, winning by 2-1/2 lengths in a lifetime best time of 1:54.4.

So Flo ($9.00) captured her second career win for owners/breeders Nancy Longobardi and Domenic Longobardi and trainer George Ducharme.

Six male trotters hooked up in one division and Wallet (Walner-Touch Of Moni) proved much the best. After watching Strongerwithlindy (Steve Smith) lead the field to the quarter, Nick Graffam pulled out his Wallet and took him to the bank. Wallet grabbed the lead at the half, opened up a two-length advantage by three-quarters and then trotted to the wire wrapped-up by 4-ΒΌ lengths in 1:59.3.

Wallet ($3.80) scored his first lifetime win for owners George Ducharme Stable, Jim Winske, David Winske and Stephan Michaels. Ducharme also trains the winner.

Wallet was bred by the Moni Maker Stable.

The male pacers also went one division and saw the biggest upset of the 2021 Plainridge meet occur when Galactic Storm (American Ideal-Betit To Get it) rallied late to win at 60-1.

As the heavily favoured Treacherous Tom (Yannick Gingras) took the lead past the quarter, Galactic Storm (Jimmy Whittemore) was sitting last at the pegs. But when a three-horse outer flow formed, Whittemore guided Galactic Storm up the inside and found himself fourth at three-quarters. At the top of the stretch, Striking Impact (Drew Monti) tipped around Treacherous Tom and Use Yah Blinkah (Jimmy Hardy) went three-wide around him. That left the pylon lane wide open for Galactic Storm, who paced by everyone in the stretch to win by a neck in 1:56.3.

Owned by his driver Whittemore and trained by Marissa Chadbourne, Galactic Storm returned $122.40 to win, $189.40 to place and $70.40 to show and sparked a $15,744.20 Trifecta payout for the 7-4-3 combination.

Galactic Storm was bred by Holland Farms.

The Massachusetts Sire Stakes resume at Plainridge Park on Sunday (Oct. 3) when the second leg of three-year-olds take the track and then continue on Monday (Oct. 4) for two-year-old competition. Post time for both days is 2 p.m.

(Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts)

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