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Favourites Prevail In PASS Finals

Published: September 4, 2021 5:47 pm ET

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Photos, courtesy Curtis Salonick: Jujubee (upper left), Bella Bellini (upper right), Lous Pearlman (lower left), Grace Hill (lower right).

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono hosted some of the sport’s most talented sophomores in Saturday's (Sept. 4) Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for three-year-olds, along with their respective consolations. Each of the Championship races went for $253,000, while the consolation fields contested $50,000 apiece.

It proved to be a good day for favourites, as each of the four most highly-regarded Championship horses proved victorious in their respective events.

Three-Year-Old Colt Trot

Jujubee, a 1:49.4 winner on Hambletonian Day, stormed to the easiest of victories despite not racing since that sub-1:50 mile, going solidly in the stretch to win by 4-1/4 lengths in 1:51.4, lowering the 1:52.3 Championship record established by Amigo Volo last year at Harrah's Philadelphia.

Andy McCarthy picked up the drive behind the 4-5 favourite, and he moved the son of Creatine out from third after a :26.2 quarter to get the top before the :55.1 half and 1:23.1 three-quarters. Nobody presented a serious threat in the latter stages to Jujubee, who now has earnings of $300,107 for owner Jon Erdner.

Trainer Greg Wright Jr. said, “I didn’t have this horse last year, and he wasn’t staked to anything. But, training him, I could tell that his No. 1 quality was desire – there just was no end to him. We had to supplement to these Sire Stakes, and he can be supplemented to the Breeders Crown, I believe, but, after that, we’ll be looking for races for him.”

Captain Corey won at Pocono on Sire Stakes Championship Day last year, and he won here on Sires Championship Day this year – but this year he won his consolation, as he had only a win and a break in the prelims he did enter, and did not earn enough points for the final. In this consolation, trainer-driver Åke Svanstedt made a quarter-move past stablemate Fly Light and was in charge from there, with his huge strides propelling him far clear of his foes through a :27.2 last quarter to win in 1:51.4. The ownership of S R F Stable, Knutsson Trotting, Midnight Sun Partners and Svanstedt saw their star son of Googoo Gaagaa boost his earnings to a North America-leading $758,695 this year and $1,090,333 lifetime.

Three-Year-Old Filly Trot

Hambletonian Oaks winner Bella Bellini, benefitting from a heady drive from Dexter Dunn, wore down leader You Ato Dream late to win her divisional Championship in 1:53.

Starting from the outside post nine, the daughter of Bar Hopping tucked into the four-hole Dunn, with 2020 rookie champion Flawless Country and Lady Chaos arguing past a :27.1 quarter. Even though Lady Chaos backed the half off to :56.4, You Ato Dream rushed at her to take the lead at the five-eighths, towing up Bella Bellini and then leaving her coverless and attacking nearing the 1:23.4 three-quarters.

In a stretch battle between the co-leading preliminary point winners, You Ato Dream held her ground gamely, but Bella Bellini slowly got by in the latter stages, winning by three-quarters of a length, with Lady Chaos staying on for third, another 1¾ lengths back.

“Post nine is never good, but it worked out,” Dunn said after the race. “Actually, I followed You Ato Dream, and when she cleared, I thought of trying to get my filly to the top. But, when she didn’t clear, I hoped it hadn’t taken too much out of her. She showed her class in the stretch.”

The 6-5 favourite has now won eight of 13 starts this year, with her lifetime earnings going to $514,448. Nifty Norman conditions the filly for owner David McDuffee.

The Cantab Hall filly May Karp won her divisional consolation for the second straight year, blitzing home in :28 to win going away in 1:54. Tim Tetrick drove the heavily favoured winner as she raised her bankroll to $221,396 for trainer Lucas Wallin and Shermay Stables.

Three-Year-Old Colt Pace

Southwind Gendry and Perfect Sting chose to go elsewhere, paving the way for the Burke Brigade's colt Lous Pearlman to win the glamour division’s Championship in 1:49.4.

Lous Pearlman, sent off at 3-5, was looped out of the gate by early rushers, with Yannick Gingras guiding his horse to the lead midway between the :26.2 quarter and the :54.3 half. Billy Clyde made a strong challenge to the 1:22.1 three-quarters, and he wouldn’t go away in the stretch, but Lous Pearlman had a bit more in reserve and held off his gritty foe by 1 3/4 lengths, with the same distance between Billy Clyde and third-place finisher Gamblin Mo.

“This colt has been in good form lately, and he seems to be doing well on Lasix,” noted Gingras of the Sweet Lou colt. Lous Pearlman took his mark of 1:47.4 at The Meadowlands earlier this year, and now sports a bankroll of $423,681 for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Elizabeth Novak and Howard Taylor.

The Somebeachsomewhere colt Somewhereinverona, the 2020 Stallion Series champion in this group, added another trophy to his collection with a 1:50.4 victory in the consolation. Pocono’s top driver George Napolitano Jr. shot the sophomore out to the lead, was shuffled after lead changes and still came back first-over, then ground down odds-on pacesetter Water Sports Teen by 1-1/4 lengths, pacing his own back half in :54.2 for trainer Jessica Dowse and owners Petitpas Stables LTD, Ozzie MacKay, Blake MacIntosh and Gilles Landry.

Three-Year-Old Filly Pace

The Always B Miki filly Grace Hill continued in a sterling string of form in her Championship, recording her fourth straight triumph over top-level competition in 1:50.2 to give owner Tom Hill his second straight trophy in this division, after Party Girl Hill last year.

Grace Hill used track geometry to maximum advantage from the rail, keeping Blue Diamond Eyes parked past a slick :26.2 quarter, then moved back to the top for driver Todd McCarthy by a demanding :54.1 half. The 2-5 chalk absorbed backstretch pressure from points leader Mikala to the 1:22 three-quarters, and then her main opposition to the finish line came from Blue Diamond Eyes in the Pocono Pike and 32-1 shot Milieu Hanover charging from third-over. But Grace Hill held her ground to win by a half length over Blue Diamond Eyes, who in turn pictured out Milieu Hanover for second.

“Fillies sometimes hit a patch of good form, and that’s the case with Grace Hill right now,” stated trainer Richard 'Nifty' Norman after taking both of the filly Championships. “Also, notice that she has been drawing very well recently – that and her speed have combined to really help her work out top trips.”

Grace Hill has run her bankroll to $620,855.

In the consolation, Beach Crazy made the lead before the quarter and led every step of the way from there, but the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere had to dig down deep to ward off potential pocket rocket Capsaicinn in the Pocono Pike by a nose, lowering her mark a tick to 1:51.3. Todd McCarthy kept the winner alive to the finish line to put her over six figures in lifetime earnings for trainer Stacy Chiodo and the partnership of Jeffrey Shore, Robert Barr and Chiodo Racing LLC.

The Carmine Fusco Memorial Pace was held during the card, in tribute to the horseman whose family was devastated by COVID-19 at the very outbreak of the pandemic. Fusco won three training titles at The Downs, and his 177 victories at Pocono in 2007 is still the local seasonal standard. The $16,000 mid-card event was won by Regal Son, and after the race many family and friends of Carmine came to the winner's circle in fond remembrance for a presentation.


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