Grand Circuit action returned to Harrah’s Hoosier Park with five divisions of The Star Destroyer for three-year-olds highlighting the 14-race card on Friday, Nov. 17. Entering as the headliners on the card, French Wine and Coach Stefanos did not disappoint, each delivering dominant victories in their respective divisions for three-year-old colts and geldings.
Saddled with post eight in the field of nine in the $60,000 three-year-old colt trot, driver Andy Miller landed French Wine (pictured above) in the fourth position on the first turn as Texsong Soprano and Mike Oosting put up a :26.2 opening quarter. The hot pace didn’t deter Miller from pulling on the right line on the backstretch, giving French Wine his marching orders to the lead at the half in :55.3. French Wine began to assert himself on the front entering the far turn, opening up to a two-length lead at three-quarters in 1:25.1 as Talent Scout and Doug Rideout challenged Texsong Soprano for the second spot. Turning for home, French Wine remained strong on the lead, powering home in :27.1 to hold a late-charging Helpfirstedition and John De Long at bay by just more than three lengths on the line in 1:52.2. Texsong Soprano held for the third position.
The victory was the fourth of the year in 17 seasonal outings and eighth in the career for the royally bred son of Bar Hopping-Creamy Mimi. Trained by Julie Miller, French Wine hit the million-dollar mark in career earnings for owners Andy Miller Stable Inc, Daniel & Jean Cristophe Plouffe and One Legend Stable Inc.
Not to be outdone, Coach Stefanos delivered as the 1-9 favourite in dominant fashion in the $65,000 three-year-old colt pace. Leaving from post four in the field of eight, regular pilot Trace Tetrick settled in the fifth position through the opening quarter as Burnout and LeWayne Miller led the way to that station in :26 parked to the outside of Liteningonthebeach and Jordan Ross. Burnout cleared on the backstretch but the pace remained hot to the half, taking the field to that point in :54.1. Tetrick had seen enough as he angled Coach Stefanos to the outside, leading the first-over charge to the leader’s wheel at three-quarters in 1:22.4 with Buzzsaw Russ and John De Long in tow second-over. Coach Stefanos powered to the lead at the top of the stretch, sprinting to the wire in :26 to score by 2-1/4 lengths over Buzzsaw Russ in 1:49. Dynamite Dylan and Andy Miller rallied for the show spot.
The Erv Miller trainee notched his third victory in his last four starts and eighth of the season through 16 starts in 2023. Owned by Kenneth Duffy, D And M Trading Il LLC and John Stefanos, the gelded son of Tellitlikeitis-Watch B Be Watched has earned $535,365 in 2023 and $780,420 for his career.
Earlier on the card, Dragon By The Sea kicked off the stakes action in the first of two $30,500 divisions of the Star Destroyer for sophomore pacing fillies. A late driver’s change found Atlee Bender in the bike as he left alertly from post four to sit the pocket behind To All A Goodnight and Andy Miller through an opening quarter of :26.1. Bender popped the pocket on the backstretch to gain the top spot only briefly as Tarapasta and LeWayne Miller took charge to the half in :55.4. It was Racin Hungry and John De Long’s turn to lead the outflow while she engaged Tarapasta on the lead through three-quarters in 1:24.4 with Dragon By The Sea angling back out for more from third. In the stretch, Racin Hungry put away Tarapasta before Dragon By The Sea uncorked a :26.3 final quarter to chase down the leader by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.4.
Trained by Jeff Smith, the daughter of Downbytheseaside-Prima Dragon earned her seventh victory in 18 tries this season. With the win, Dragon By The Sea has banked $190,595 in her career for owner John Van Horn.
Driver John De Long had the hot-hand on the evening, driving five winners on the card including Mollop Hanover in the second division for three-year-old pacing fillies. Mollop Hanover settled in the third spot early as Cantgetuoutamymind and Andy Miller rode the wind to a wicked :25.3 first quarter. De Long moved at the quarter with Mollop Hanover to take command prior to leading to the half in :54.2. Trace Tetrick brought the heavily favoured Hungry For Love first-up to the leader’s wheel at the three-quarter pole in 1:23.2. Headed at the top of the lane, Mollop Hanover dug in gamely to find more in the stretch, gutting out a :28 final quarter to open her lead back up to 2-1/4 lengths on the wire in 1:51.2. Lets Misbehave and Marvin Luna rallied for second, with Walkin On Sunshine and Jay Cross rounding out the trifecta.
Missy Essig trained the three-year-old rookie daughter of Betting Line-Mayhem Seelster to her seventh victory in 18 starts this season. The victory brought Mollop Hanover’s lifetime earnings to $151,065 for owners Eric Good, West Wins Stable and Dumain Haven Farm LLC.
De Long wasn’t finished in the stakes action on the evening, scoring the mild upset with Believe U Me in the $60,500 three-year-old filly trot. De Long landed in the third position early as Picaboo Lady and Joey Putnam stung Helpoftheseason and Peter Wrenn to a :27.2 first quarter. Wrenn mashed the brakes on the backstretch, stealing a :31 second-quarter to the half in :58.2. Pressure came to the leader from Southwind Cherry and Trace Tetrick, surging first-over into second while Believe U Me snuck off the pylons to follow her cover on the way to three-quarters in 1:27.4. In the lane, Believe U Me surged off of cover in :26.4 to get the jump on Picaboo Lady, who rallied up the passing lane, scoring the victory by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:55.1. Helpoftheseason gamely held for third.
The Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final champion scored her sixth victory in 19 seasonal efforts for trainer Ron Burke. Owned by W. J. Donovan, the daughter of Muscle Mass-I Believe is now a winner of $353,234 for her career.
Racing continues at Harrah’s Hoosier Park on Saturday, Nov. 18 with a 12-race card set to get underway at 7 p.m. For the holiday week, Hoosier will be dark on Thanksgiving (Nov. 23), before racing returns on Friday, Nov. 24 with a special early post-time of 4 p.m.
(With files from Hoosier Park)