Harness racing's top ranked horse San Pail made his Bluegrass debut an impressive one on Saturday night with a dominant win in the $145,000 Allerage Farms Open Trot highlighting a stakes-packed Red Mile card
Lining up from Post 5 in the deep field of seven - a field with over $10 million in combined earnings - driver Randy Waples left for position and settled in third as Lanson (Mike Lachance) and Take My Picture (David Miller) settled in front of San Pail through a :28 opener.
As the group of trotters hit the backstretch in straight alignment, Waples right-lined San Pail and managed to clear to the front without any issues. The half-mile point was reached in an honest :56.
Around the five-eighths marker, Arch Madness (Brian Sears) made the first commitment to the outside from fourth, and that move flushed cover in the form of Take My Picture as Waples rated San Pail through a 1:25.3 third station. The sprint was on San Pail kicked into another gear in the lane, flying home in :26.3 to win in 1:52.1.
Longshot Hot Shot Blue Chip (John Campbell) closed ultra-impressively to nip Arch Madness for second with Lucky Jim (Andy Miller) recovering from an early break to finish fourth.
Trainer Rod Hughes thanked his entourage for making this all possible after the win, and also thanked the Red Mile for putting on the event. Hughes admitted he was a bit worried when San Pail headed to the gate.
"He was a little hot scoring down, but Randy gets along with him so well," noted Hughes. "The slow first half also concerned me a bit as you know all of these horses can sprint home but he closed a ton."
Hughes noted to Sam McKee that the ship to Lexington went quite well as in the past 'Pail' would get off his feed at times with long trips, but he was himself today. The trainer couldn't say enough about what his prized pupil means to him.
"He means everything to me, he's been great for me. It's a dream come true, watching races here as a kid and now being here talking to you. It's just awesome."
Glenn Van Camp of Port Perry bred and co-owns the seven-year-old son of San Pellegrino-Village Beauty, who won for the 47th time in his career, with trainer Rod Hughes of Dunsford, ON. The victory improved the gelding’s 2011 record to 12-2-0 in 14 starts, and the winning payday pushed his lifetime earnings to $2,651,715.
Fresh off his 1:48 world record performance at Pocono, We Will See continued to assert himself as the dominant horse in the older pacing division with a gutsy win in the $183,000 Allerage Farms Open Pace.
With a solid group of ten older pacers lined up, Doug McNair wanted early command with Aracache Hanover and he timed the gate perfectly from Post 5 to outsprint his nine rivals for the front end. Jody Jamieson hustled St Elmo Hero out from Post 10, and McNair allowed St Elmo Hero to clear his horse through a :26.4 opener and then looped back to the front.
David Miller asked Dial Or No Dial to start the outer flow with the hopes of flushing some cover, and that he did in the form of favoured We Will See from third. Pierce was out and driving as the field paced the half in :54.4. We Will See eventually landed on top, forcing Dial Or No Dial to grind first over and tow Foiled Again (Gingras) into contention second over.
We Will See rattled off three-quarters in 1:22 with Dial Or No Dial not going away and Foiled Again tipping off that cover. Those three pacers engaged in an epic stretch drive with a dead game We Will See emerging to hold off Foiled Again in 1:48.4 with Dial Or No Dial just off the leaders to complete the triactor.
"He gets better every week and I just can't ask anything else of this horse. He keeps giving it his all," stated a relieved trainer Sam DePinto after the win. "I thought he had a good shot to hang on as those pacers were coming...and so was the wire, thank God!"
The win for We Will See, his 19th lifetime, pushes his lifetime earnings over the $2 million mark for Shannon Depinto, Earl Smith and Jerry Silva. DePinto noted that the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack would be We Will See's last start of the year.
Bluegrass Divisions - Two-Year-Old Pacing Colts
In the first of four $96,500 divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes, two highly regarded colts with just one career blemish - Bolt The Duer and Sweet Lou - faced off.
Bettors Edge (Jody Jamieson) was the first off the wings and in control through a :28 opener. That lead was short-lived as Bolt The Duer (LaChance) pulled pocket to take the front just before Dave Palone had a similiar idea and looped that leader to take command at the :56.1 half with Sweet Lou.
As outer flow didn't apply much pressure on the leaders, Sweet Lou was able to steal a :29.3 third panel and hit three-quarters in 1:25.4 before turning for home. The stretch drive proved to be a stretch duel between Sweet Lou and pocket sitter Bolt The Duer. When the dust cleared, Bolt The Duer was able to get up in the final strides to trip the timer in 1:52.2. Bettors Edge saved ground and completed the triactor.
"He's just a colt that keeps trying and Mike gave him a great drive," noted trainer Pete Foley, who continued on to say that Bolt The Duer would race again at the Red Mile next week before heading to Canada for the Breeders Crown.
Bolt The Duer (Ponder - Wonderbolt) was a $70,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase for All Star Racing of Towaco, N.J. The colt is now 6-for-7 on the year with $255,600 in the bank.
World record holder A Rocknroll Dance lived up to his 1-9 pari-mutuel expectations with a sharp and powerful 1:51 win in his division of the Bluegrass.
The horses on each side of the gate - rail horse Social Network (Campbell) and outside Ezpass Hanover (Miller) were quickest off the wings. Campbell was content to sit the two-hole and allowed Miller to clear through the :27 opener. Gingras and A Rocknroll Dance were positioned in fourth down the backstretch as Ezpass Hanover paced the half in :55.3. Gingras was starting to feel pressure from the backfield and made his move.
Within a matter of strides and showing no fear, A Rocknroll Dance quickly powered to the front and was on top before the 1:24 third panel. Down the lane, A Rocknroll Dance opened up by four lengths and was never seriously pressured. Gingras sat chilly as his charge tripped the timer in 1:51 with Ezpass Hanover holding off Social Network for third.
A winner of three of his six lifetime starts, A Rocknroll Dance (Rocknroll Hanover - Wichita Hanover) is owned by trainer James Mulinix, Denny Miller, Jerry & Theresa Silva. After the race, Silva indicated that the speedy freshman would be making the trip back to Canada - where the colt first caught his eye.
"We're going to Canada for the Breeders Crown and we hope to be two-year-old champion colt of the year."
After facing older horses and winning a Free For All event last week at The Red Mile, two-year-old pacer Mybrothergeorge found horses his own age just as easy to beat.
Brian Sears and favoured Mybrothergeorge were one of four colts barreling into the first turn and had to work for the lead. Ideal Champ (Miller) made the favourite work for it, stretching out the favourite through a :27.2 first quarter. Shakerattlenrock (Pierce) continued his overland bid from Post 8 and gradually worked up to the front the field. Miller had a rank Ideal Champ in third and couldn't keep him settled in the pocket so he tried to retake through a :55 half but Pierce and Shakerattlenrock were having none of it, rebuffing that move. Maytime Terror (Palone) was moved three-wide with Mortal Zin (Gingras) on his back.
The freshmen rolled through three quarters in 1:23.3, and at the top of the stretch Maytime Terror was on top of the field but a live Mortal Zin tipped off that cover and powered past. Sears stick-handled Mybrothergeorge through traffic and managed to find room for one last rush for a tight photo finish that was too close to call. In fact, it was so close that the winner didn't know he had won.
"I would have been happy with a dead heat, I really thought the other horse won it!" said Mybrothergeorge's trainer Bruce Saunders after the race.
Saunders trains Mybrothergeorge (Rocknroll Hanover - Armbro Ophelia) for Frank Bellino of New York. The connections behind 2010's U.S. Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven shelled out $110,000 last Fall for Mybrothergeorge, his three-quarter brother. Saunders noted that the 2011 Breeders Crown is not in the cards for his freshman pupil.
"He'll be here next week, then back to Jersey for the Governors Cup. We had some bad luck in Canada last year so no Breeders Crown, we're just staying in the States ths year."
Metro winner Simply Business was making his first start since that million-dollar win, and he showed once again why he was 2010's highest priced yearling.
Off as the 2-5 choice, Simply Business was in no hurry to sprint out once the starting gate folded its wings. Ron Pierce settled Simply Business into fourth as Escape The News (Sears) blasted to the front. The first station was reached in :27.2 by Escape The News but his lead was short-lived. Randy Waples pulled pocket and brushed to the front with Rockin Finish. Waples eased the pace and tried to steal a breather knowing that Simply Business could soon come to call, and that he did. Pierce was flushed from fourth before the midway point and sat some four lengths from the leader through the :56.1 half.
As Rockin Finish continued to pace on the front, Simply Business continued to grind away at that lead and floated up to the leader's wheel as the third station flashed up in 1:26.1. Pierce asked Simply Business for more step heading into the stretch and the rookie responded. The backfield was able to stay with the leaders through that soft middle half and threats came at Simply Business from all angles as the field approached the wire. Under pressure, Simply Business kicked home with a :26.4 closer to find the line in 1:53. Escape The News found room to take place with Terrorist Alert (Jamieson) getting show.
"This is a really outstanding colt. Jimmy's done a fantastic job with him," gushed co-owner Marvin Katz after the victory. "This is a top flight colt and I don't say that lightly. He hadn't raced in a month...after a layoff to win like this, only a top-flight colt can do that."
Katz was clearly keen on racing Simply Business in the Breeders Crown later this month at Woodbine but wouldn't commit to the race.
"It will be up to Jimmy what's next, the Crown's very much on our minds especially being at home in Canada."
Now 4-for-7 in 2011, Simply Business (Rocknroll Hanover - Cathedra Dot Com) has more than $651,000 in earnings for Brixton Medical Ab, Order BY Stable, Louie Camara, Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband.
Bluegrass Division - Three-Year-Old Pacing Fillies
Ten of the top three-year-old pacing fillies were in action in a $153,000 division of the Bluegrass, pitting Jugette winner Idyllic against Mistletoe Shalee winner Drop The Ball.
Three fillies coveted control but one, rail sitting Krispy Apple, couldn't handle the pace and went offstride. That rattled a few fillies in the backfield but didn't affect Honky Tonk Woman (Jamieson) or Idyllic (David Miller), who wanted that front end more and got it for the price of :26.4.
Miller tried to rate his mare but Idyllic was feeling the need for speed and paced uncontested through a :53.3 half. Favoured Drop The Ball (Gingras) was sitting third and loaded with pace. After the five-eighths mark Gingras couldn't hold her back any longer. The two fillies paced through three quarters in 1:22.1 before Drop The Ball powered past at the head of the lane.
With an eighth of a mile to go, Gingras had an open length lead and no challengers. He kept a firm hold on his mare through the wire, pacing back to her life's best 1:49.1. Strike An Attitude (Palone) closed well to finish second with Idyllic managing to stay for third.
Gingras was asked after the race how the confusion into the opening turn affected his mare.
"It got a little ugly there, I don't know what [Krispy Apple] did. I got lucky as I was about to tuck behind Danny (Dube, driving Foxy Lady) but I avoided the trouble."
The Red Mile's Gabe Prewitt asked Gingras if the hot early tempo helped his cause?
"This filly is so sharp right now I don't know if it mattered, she won as easy as she could have."
Prewitt then asked Gingras if Drop The Ball's breaking issues were behind her, and Gingras indicated that trainer Ross Croghan has her figured out, noting the problems were mostly with attitude.
When comparing Drop The Ball to the great Darlins Delight - the namesake of the race and the mare that put Gingras on the map - Gingras noted that "Drop The Ball is scary fast, as fast as Darlins Delight. If she keeps going as she is, she'll make her own name and won't need any comparisons."
Now with seven lifetime wins, Drop The Ball is owned by Let It Ride Stables, Dana Parham and Robert Cooper Stables of Florida.