The Pennsylvania Sires Stakes season at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows kicks off Saturday (May 6) when Fulton, last year’s champion juvenile male pacer, launches defense of his title. The 14-race card also features a PA Stallion Series event for sophomore colt and gelding pacers. Combined, the two stakes span nine splits and offer total purses exceeding $245,000.
Special post time for the Kentucky Derby Day card is 11:30 a.m., which also marks the start of a full-day of family-centric events, including a Derby hat contest, live music, food and beverage specials, paddock tours, starting gate rides and winners’ circle pictures. Those activities are coordinated by The Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA).
Fulton drew away from his rivals in last year’s championship, winning by four lengths en route to seasonal earnings topping $268,000. Yet he competed in none of the rich, late-season stakes. Linda Toscano, who trains the son of Heston Blue Chip - Bettor Be Steamin for Let It Ride Stables and Bottom Line Racing, indicates there was a good reason for his absence.
“He wasn’t eligible,” she said. “Once we found out he was a good horse, we paid him into as many races as we could. So he’s eligible for a lot more this year — the North America Cup, the Meadowlands Pace, the Adios, the Matron, the Progress, the Hempt.”
Ranked at #5 in TROT Magazine's 2023 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book, Fulton prepped for his sophomore debut with a pair of qualifiers at the Meadowlands, and Toscano likes what she saw.
“He did exactly what we hoped he would do,” she said. “He needed to get legged up, go fast and finish strong, which is the most important thing.
“Last year, he kind of did what I asked him to do. He’s grown up and filled out a little, and he’s more professional. He knows what he’s doing this year.
Fulton goes from post three, race nine, with Dexter Dunn aboard.
Also competing in Saturday’s PASS, which is known as the Albatross, is Annapolis Hanover, (race six, post four, Hunter Myers) runner-up to Fulton in last year’s championship. It won’t be his seasonal debut, as owner/trainer Mitch York tightened up the Stay Hungry - All Night Long gelding in a pair of tough overnight events at The Meadows.
“I think he looks competitive,” said York. “Physically, he’s pretty much the same horse he was last year. He didn’t grow much — maybe a little wider but not much taller.”
He said Annapolis Hanover’s stake engagements this year so far include the Somebeachsomewhere, the North America Cup — where he's ranked at #9 in the TROT Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book — the Messenger and the Haughton.