Pet Rock Upsets In The Haughton; Bee A Magician Sets World Record
Published: July 13, 2013 6:10 pm ET
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Pet Rock fought off world champion Warrawee Needy to win the highly anticipated $471,800 William Haughton Memorial for free-for-all pacers in a career-best 1:47 flat during the Meadowlands Pace undercard in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Driver David Miller settled 9-1 Pet Rock away fourth from post nine during the :26-second opening quarter, put up by Golden Receiver (Corey Callahan), before tipping first over.
Pet Rock advanced to the top down the backstretch, clearing at the :53.4 half-mile mark with heavy favourite Warrawee Needy (Jody Jamieson) in pursuit after his 1:46.4 victory in elimination action last week and the other elim winner, Sweet Lou (Yannick Gingras), following his cover.
Warrawee Needy quickly moved up to challenge the new leader and they battled head-to-head past three-quarters in 1:20.2. But down the stretch, Pet Rock managed to draw clear and then hold off the late-closers for the victory. Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald) sat third at the rail for most of the mile before coming on to place over Sweet Lou. Warrawee Needy finished fourth.
The victory was the second in the Haughton for Miller and trainer Virgil Morgan Jr., who teamed up to win the 2007 edition with Mister Big in his four-year-old season.
"My horse felt strong all the way and when I asked him in the stretch he just sprinted home," said Miller. "He was pacing strong right through the wire."
The four-year-old millionaire son of Rocknroll Hanover is owned by New York's Frank Bellino.
O'Brien Award winner Bee A Magician dazzled onlookers in the $265,500 Del Miller Memorial posting the fastest trotting mile in the history of the sport for three-year-old fillies.
The Ontario-sired daughter of Kadabra was a wrapped up winner in 1:51, lowering the 2012 Del Miller champion Check Me Out's world record, established at The Red Mile, by two-fifths of a second.
With Brian Sears catch-driving, Bee A Magician advanced first over from fourth after the :27.1 opening quarter and cleared to command past the :55.1 half-mile mark. The heavy 1-9 favourite cruised past three-quarters in 1:23.1 and drew off down the lane by four and a half lengths to remain undefeated in seven seasonal starts. Frau Blucher (Jim Morrill Jr.) finished second with Mistery Woman (David Miller) rounding out the top three finishers.
"She's a big, strong filly and she just gets over the ground so easy," said Sears.
The millionairess is trained by Richard 'Nifty' Norman for owners Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, Ont., Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, Florida, and David McDuffee of Delray Beach, Florida.
"She is as advertised -- she's very, very good isn't she?" commented a thrilled Norman in the winner's circle.
With the question looming of whether Bee A Magician will face the boys in the upcoming Hambletonian or compete in the filly companion Oaks, Norman said the decision has not yet been made.
"It's a tricky question," he said. "I think the fact that the format is two heats in one day is probably a little bit too much, but I don't know, we'll discuss it some more."
In addition to the Hambletonian or Oaks, Bee A Magician is expected to return to Canada for the Ontario Sires Stakes and later ship to Pocono Downs for the Breeders Crown.
I Luv The Nitelife, another O'Brien Award winner, repelled pressure in the stretch to continue her reign over the three-year-old pacing fillies with a 1:50 score in the $184,250 Mistletoe Shalee for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Chris Ryder.
Tetrick had 2-5 favourite I Luv The Nitelife out early following the cover of the parked out Shebestingin (David Miller) as the field passed the :27.1 first quarter mark. Shebestingin cleared in front of Nikki Beach (Ron Pierce) before I Luv The Nitelife brushed by well before the :55 half-mile mark. The millionaire daughter of Rocknroll Hanover proceeded to three-quarters in 1:22.3 with Novascotia Hanover (Brian Sears) advancing first over. Down the stretch, Shebestingin pulled the pocket while Charisma Hanover (Yannick Gingras) slipped up the pylons, but I Luv The Nitelife held on by half a length to collect her third stakes trophy of the season. Charisma Hanover was second and Novascotia Hanover finished third.
Owned by Florida's Richard and Joanne Young, I Luv The Nitelife is now six-for-seven in her sophomore season with Fan Hanover and James M. Lynch Memorial victories padding her resume.
"My filly gutted it out and when she saw them she dug back in and fought to the wire like she does," commented Tetrick.
When asked to compare I Luv The Nitelife to another star filly campaigned by the same connections, Put On A Show, Tetrick noted their difference in racing styles.
"Put On A Show is high, high speed from the back and loves to pass horses," he said. "This filly can do more work and be up close and make the race herself. With Put On A Show you had to let the race unfold to make her winning trip."
I Luv The Nitelife is expected to race in the Miss Jersey next.
Royalty For Life was caught wide early on, but drove on to claim the 2013 Stanley Dancer Memorial title with a 1:52 winning effort in the $294,000 stakes event for three-year-old trotters.
Sent postward as the 9-5 favourite with Brian Sears in the sulky, Royalty For Life managed to avoid the early breakers from post nine during the :27.1 opening panel and worked his way to the lead en route to the :55.1 half. He led the field, which was scratched down to 11, past three-quarters in 1:24.2 and into the stretch with Spider Blue Chip (Ron Pierce) flushed first over from third and quickly gaining ground. However, Royalty For Life dug in and held on to win by a head. Spider Blue Chip was forced to settle for second with Dewycolorintheline (Ray Schnittker) following three lengths behind in third.
The 2012 Breeders Crown runner-up earned his first win of the season after making breaks in his previous three stakes starts.
"I really believe he just needed to start racing," said trainer George Ducharme of the Hambletonian eligible's early season miscues. "He was just feeling too good. I was stuck in the quarantine in Vernon and he was ready to go. I had to back off on him and he just started to feel too good I think.
"We've got to work on it and keep it together," he added.
The Rc Royalty colt is owned by Maine breeder Alfred Ross and co-owners Raymond Campbell and Paul Fontaine.
The stakes action on Meadowlands Pace Night began with two-year-olds facing off in the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships.
Freshman trotting fillies Cee Bee Yes and Dancing For Money produced a photo finish in the first NJSS event. But it was Jason and Douglas Allen's Cee Bee Yes who got up in the final strides to prevail in 1:56.3 for the husband and wife, driver-trainer team of Andy and Julie Miller.
The Muscles Yankee-Enbeecee filly worked her way to the lead from the outside post eight during the opening panel with 4-5 Pacific Winds K (Tim Tetrick) hot on her heels and moving up to take over command into the backstretch. As Dancing For Money (Yannick Gingras) pursued the new leader into the stretch, Cee Bee Yes launched a late attack to get by at the wire. Dancing For Money finished right there in second with Pacific Winds K settling for third.
"The trip worked out great, but she also showed up," said Andy Miller of the winning filly, who was a $45,000 Harrisburg Sale yearling and is now two-for-two in her racing career. "She's the whole package other than once in a while she's had some baby growing issues, but I think she's got a bright future."
Another trotter that appears to have a bright future is Hill I Am, who completed a sweep of the NJSS for freshman colts as the hot-handed Corey Callahan rolled him to the top after the opening panel and fought off a persistent Southwind Spirit (Yannick Gingras) to prevail by one length in 1:55.4. Sumatra (Andy Miller) finished third.
"Yannick and [Ron] Burke's horse [Southwind Spirit] is definitely no slouch," said Callahan, who picked up his second victory on the card after a six-win night Friday. "When he headed me I was a little worried, but I had a lot of confidence in this colt. Every time I ask him to go he goes."
Roy Dobbins owns and bred the Muscle Hill-Im A Checkmate colt, who is trained by Dennis Laterza. Callahan said he is "very impressed" by the first crop of Muscle Hill. "This colt is very athletic, very talented," he noted.
Western Vintage also continued his perfect freshman season sweeping the NJSS for pacing colts. Driven by Yannick Gingras, the heavy favourite advanced first over from fourth after the half and cruised home to win in 1:52.2 by four lengths. Early leader In The Clear (Andrew McCarthy) settled for second while Caviart Chase (Ron Pierce) won a photo for show over Beat The Drum (Tim Tetrick).
"He's ahead [of the crop] that's for sure," commented Gingras after the race. "He's the best one I think we've seen so far. All he wants to do is please. He sat in there nice and comfortable and the minute I pulled first up at the half he was trying to take off on me. He wants to do it. He's just a beautiful horse."
Purchased for just $7,000 at the Lexington Select Sale by Perry Soderberg, the heavily staked Western Ideal-Major Harmony colt has already banked close to $100,000 in just three starts under the care of trainer Nancy Johansson.
The final NJSS Championship for two-year-old pacing fillies was later won by Bolt Of Thunder from post eight in wire-to-wire fashion for driver John Campbell and trainer Larry Remmen.
The Rocknroll Hanover-Thunder Angel filly, who was a runner-up in the opening NJSS legs, broke her maiden in 1:53.1 for owner/breeder Robert Hamather of Exeter, Ont. Fiyonce (Yannick Gingras) finished second off a pocket trip with Cut A Deal (Brian Sears) a pylon-skimming third from the three-hole.
"I was sailing along with fractions I thought were okay," said Campbell. "She did get pretty tired, but she held on and she showed some guts down by the wire."
The speedy Hurrikane Kingcole opened the Saturday night card with a dazzling 1:47.3 performance in a $30,000 Free For All Pace for trainer John McDermott. The four-year-old son of Cams Card Shark swept to command from fourth after a contested :26.4 opening panel and blazed through middle splits of :53.2 and 1:19.4 en route to an open length victory. Corey Callahan was in the sulky as 9-1 shot Hurrikane Kingcole matched his lifetime mark that he established in last year's Meadowlands Pace Consolation for owners Kuhen Racing LLC, John Levy Racing Stable, Klee Cohen Brewer And Gor, and Hurrikane Racing LLC.
For coverage of Saturday's featured event, the $635,750 Meadowlands Pace, click here.