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JL Cruze Shocks ‘Em In ‘Spirit’

Published: July 28, 2017 7:17 pm ET

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A world class collection of the sport’s top trotters clashed in Friday evening’s $250,000 Spirit Of Massachusetts at Plainridge Park, and JL Cruze pulled off a stunning upset in the rich tilt.

Crazy Wow rocketed off the gate and secured the early lead for driver Matt Kakaley, and those two hung up the opening quarter in :26.1. Resolve and Ake Svanstedt popped off the rail from the garden spot as the field marched in front of the grandstand, but Kakaley gave that foe the cold shoulder and drove on.

They battled to the mid-way point in :53.4 before Resolve briefly held up the white flag and ducked back into the pocket. Race favourite Hannelore Hanover edge off the rail from third at that point, and that brought Resolve back to the outside. JL Cruze and Andrew McCarthy, in the meantime, were still sitting fourth on the rail.

Crazy Wow and Resolve exchanged punches all the way across the backstretch, and little separated them at the three-quarter pole in 1:22. Turning for home, Hannelore Hanover hustled up three-wide while JL Cruze stayed inside and shot up the pylons. That proved to be the winning move for McCarthy, who snuck through late to pull off the 60-1 shocker with JL Cruze in a track record clocking of 1:51.2. Hannelore Hanover settled for second, with Crazy Wow edging Resolve for the show dough.

“It really worked out, that was a lot of pressure up there; they were really rocking along. I had my chance just getting through the first turn which was my biggest concern, then after that I had to get lucky to get out” said winning driver Andrew McCarthy. “Going into the last turn, I knew I had enough trot to get there, it was just a matter of getting up the inside. So when they were dueling up front, I could kind of cut my own mile back there and just figure it out from there.

“JL Cruze has been a great horse for three years now and to just sit behind a horse like that is a great privilege," added McCarthy. "It worked out before the race that I ran into John (Campbell) and asked him what he thought I should do with this horse on the gate and he gave me a couple pointers and it really worked out.”

The six-year-old son of Crazed-Topcat Hall won for the second time this season and for the 28th time in his career for partners Wm K Wood, William Ditmar, Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta. The Eric Ell pupil lifted his lifetime earnings to $1,093,737 with the win.

The track record that JL Cruze broke was set just one race before by Gural Hanover in the $25,000 Old North Church Open Handicap Trot.

Gural Hanover (Matt Kakaley) left sharply from post eight and opened up a two-length advantage. He maintained the gapped lead the entire race including easy first-half fractions of :27.1 and :56.1. And that is where the race was won.

As they started up the backside, Kakaley tapped the gas pedal and got to three-quarters in 1:24 flat and then with the field strung-out behind him, Gural Hanover trotted home in total command tripping the timer in 1:52.1 under Kakaley’s wraps. The 1:52.1 track record stood for one race.

It was the sixth win in 13 starts this year for Gural Hanover ($3.60) who is owned by the Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Little E LLC and the Panhellenic Stable Corp and is trained by Ron Burke.

(With files from Plainridge Park)

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