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First MASS Frosh Leg Monday

Published: September 27, 2019 2:12 pm ET

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The 2019 Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) will get underway on Sunday (Sept. 29) at Plainridge Park, but the two-year-olds won’t convene for their first leg until Monday (Sept. 30). There are 96 eligibles that make up this first-year group of competitors and some have already been performing at a high level.

Two-year-old pacing colts

Han Solo (Mister Big-Leah) would have to be considered the favourite of this group going in. He finished second in an elimination of the Lawrence B. Sheppard stake at Yonkers in July and was defeated by only 2-1/2 lengths in that final. Since coming back to Plainridge he won two out of three legs of the Nauset Light Series plus the final, and set a new track record for two-year-old pacing colts in the process (1:54.1). With four wins in eights starts for trainer Monique Cohen, he is ready to take on all comers.

R Maddy Blue Chip (American Ideal-Frontierpan) has been racing on the New York Sire Stake (NYSS) circuit against some very tough competition this summer. He did get cheques in three out of those four starts and showed good speed both leaving and closing. He had been off since mid-August but qualified handily at Harrah’s Philadelphia in 1:56.2 and has since won in 1:58.4 by four lengths in a tightener at Farmington, Maine for trainer Joe Nelson. He looks ready to compete.

Corporal Cole (Sunshine Beach-Get A Cab) has only four starts lifetime but the last two sent some notice. After taking his maiden win in a come-from-behind effort of 1:57.1, Corporal Cole came right back on the front-end and dropped almost two seconds, winning in 1:55.3 by open lengths. If he continues to progress for trainer Charlene Cushing, it could make this division a little more interesting.

Wesley Snoops (Western Maverick-Secure Hanover) has been busy in the Maine Sire Stakes (MSS) this summer and is currently third in the points standings there. Although his lifetime mark of 2:00.2 taken at Farmington in his last start doesn’t seem too speedy, he has yet to hit the big track and it’s there he could move to that next level for trainer Ivan Davies.

Two-year-old pacing fillies

Rys Red Rocket (Sunshine Beach-Mo Molly Blue Chip) got her first win at Windsor, Maine in a sharp 1:57.1 on September 1 right after finishing third in 1:54.2 at Plainridge in the Nauset Light series. She had an unfortunate equipment break in the next leg before finishing a strong second to Han Solo in the final, pacing in 1:56 in the process. She will take that effort right into this first leg of the MASS for trainer Gretchen Athearn.

Bold N Sporty (Sportswriter-Murrayfield) made two starts in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) in July grabbing only one fifth-place cheque, but she was race-timed in 1:53.3 and 1:54 in those two efforts at Mohawk. After winning at Georgian Downs the end of August, Bold N Sporty shipped to Plainridge and closed sharply to be third in 1:55.4 after being parked out the better part of the mile. She is now familiar with the track and that may be helpful moving forward for trainer
Jimmy Nickerson.

Odds On Orlando (Captaintreacherous-Lindys Old Lady) has only three lifetime starts but has made forward strides in each. In her last effort at the Red Mile, the Tony Alagna trainee closed very strong from fifth to finish third in 1:53.1 with a last quarter in :28. She had previously come home in a blistering :26.4 in a qualifier but also shows some gate speed when asked. Odds On Orlando is an interesting prospect.

Two-year-old trotting colts

Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) had a breaking problem earlier in the year that he seems to have gotten over. Proof of that is his 14-length romp in the third leg of the Wood End Light series followed the next week by his track record tying, 3-1/2 length winning effort of 1:56.3 in the series final at Plainridge Park. If he continues to mind his manners for trainer George Ducharme, the sky seems to be the limit for this gelding.

Stablemate Double Dealing (RC Royalty-Heather Spur) has similarly progressed in his last two races. After finishing a distant third in the third leg of the Wood End Light, Double Dealing finished a close second to Life Is A Feast in the final and was race timed in 1:57.1. The improvement in time and performance is something to take notice of.

Two-year-old trotting fillies

Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration) comes into the MASS after a big year on the NYSS circuit. She hit the board in three out of her six starts in the series, while making a break in the other three. She did come up big in the $225,000 final at Batavia, minding her manners in a first-over trip that saw her finish third at 91-1 for trainer Ducharme -- and it was the third straight start she stayed flat. She’ll come into the MASS still looking for her first lifetime win, but her wallet has $77,710 in it and that makes her by far the richest filly in this event. She has been race-timed in 1:56.4 at Vernon Downs.

Pembroke Whisper (Noble Venture-Spring Laughter) has five wins in seven outings for trainer Valerie Grondin and hasn’t missed the board in MSS action, making her the points leader in that division to date. She has the consistency, but the question is will the switch to the big track at Plainridge help her develop her speed. That is an unknown.

Sophias Express (Crazed-Snowblind Lindy) was a win machine in the NYSS Excelsior B series this year for trainer Jessica Okusko, who sends the filly to Marissa Chadbourne. She won six out of seven starts there with her only loss a secret be place finish coming up a head short. Her lifetime mark (1:59.4) and biggest margin of victory (3-1/2 lengths) came at Vernon Downs so she should feel at home over the three turns at Plainridge as well.

Here is the complete 2019 Massachusetts Sire Stake Schedule:

- Sunday (Sept. 29) Three-year-old First Leg; $35,000 added

- Monday (Sept. 30) Two-year-old First Leg; $35,000 added

- Sunday (Oct. 6) Three-year-old Second Leg; $35,000 added

- Monday (Oct. 7) Two-year-old Second Leg; $35,000 added

- Sunday (Oct. 20) Two-year-old Third Leg; $35,000 added

- Monday (Oct. 21) Three-year-old Third Leg; $35,000 added

- Monday (Oct. 28) Two- and Three-year-old Finals; $100,000 (est.)

(with files from the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts)

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