It took a gut-wrenching finish, but Caviar Forthe Lady won her sixth consecutive stakes race yesterday at the Meadows when she captured a division of a $226,825 Pennsylvania Sires Stake for juvenile trotting fillies.
The stakes event, known as the Delmonica Hanover, was contested over five divisions, with All Star Hanover, Up Front Annika, Valeris and Virgilyn Hanover taking the other splits. David Miller fashioned a driving double behind All Star Hanover and Virgilyn Hanover.
Since a half-length defeat in her career debut, Caviar For the Lady has been perfect, stepping to all six of her wins in Pennsylvania. In the Delmonica Hanover, Ray Paver sent her right to the lead. But that lead nearly succumbed to the late charge of the pocket-sitting Whispering Wind, who has picked up her game substantially since adding hopples. Caviar Forthe Lady dug in and prevailed by a nose in 1:58.2. Fairlee Creek finished behind Whispering Wind to earn show money.
"It's been a long time since I drove her, but the drivers all have been telling me that she'll hang tough at the end," said Marty Wollam, who trains Caviar Forthe Lady for Acadia Farms. "She sure did today."
Wollam said the daughter of S Js Caviar-Croupier Lady, a $22,000 yearling acquisition, will be pointed to the Standardbred at the Delaware County Fair and the PASS championship.
"We don't stake real heavily, and with her, we weren't sure what we had," Wollam said. "But I think if you can do good in Pennsylvania, you can make a lot of money and you don't have to go anyplace else. It's not like it's easy here."
All Star Hanover extended a nifty streak of her own; she's won all five of her pari-mutuel events, tasting defeat only in non-wagering baby races. She handily won her Delmonica Hanover division, scoring in 1:58.2 despite a first-over trip. Perfect Prelude was two and three-quarter lengths back in second, with Im A Ridge Girl third.
As Caviar Forthe Lady, All Star Hanover has faced primarily Pennsylvania-bred competition. Joe Holloway, who trains the daughter of Cantab Hall-Astraea Hanover for Bluestone Farms and Fredericka Caldwell, said she'll get her chance against national hopefuls in such late-season stakes as the Breeders Crown and the Matron.
"She's been a sweetheart so far, just a dandy," said Holloway of the $40,000 yearling purchase. "When you think you have a good one, you kind of limit her starts. Her schedule has been by design. The more times you get to go like today - win handily - the better it is. There are only so many of those fast ones in them."
Up Front Annika, a four-race maiden entering the event, turned in the fastest split of 1:58.1, and winning driver Dave Palone predicted she'll trot even faster once she becomes more confident.
"I couldn't really turn her loose," Palone said. "She's not 100 per cent sure of herself. She has a world of ability. When she gets things figured out, I think she can go with the top fillies. But right now, I can't really roll my wrists. I actually shut her down so she wouldn't make a mistake."
Even under wraps, Up Front Annika launched a sustained uncovered bid that carried her past Timelesswinner Two, who saved place. Misty Mollymorning was well back in third.
Kelly O'Donnell trains Up Front Annika, a daughter of Andover Hall-Photo Of A Lady, for Ed Mullinax and Murray Brown.
To view Thursday's charted lines from the Meadows, click here.