Fiji, who hadn’t seen the lead in four straight starts, zipped to the front and rolled to victory in 1:55.3 — stake fastest and a career best — in Monday’s $60,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series event at The Meadows.
The stake for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters was contested over three divisions, with Blownoutofthewater and Elysium Lindy also taking $20,000 splits. Jim Pantaleano enjoyed a stake double behind Fiji and Elysium Lindy.
Formerly trained by Jimmy Takter, Fiji was making his initial start for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC and trainer Ron Burke. Pantaleano, who hadn’t driven Fiji before, indicated he learned a lot about the Cantab Hall-Ucallthisahoneymoon gelding approaching the gate.
“When I go into a race with a horse I don’t know, I just kind of let the horse tell me,” Pantaleano said. “He was very aggressive behind the gate and extremely good gaited. As good as he felt going out of there, I made a decision to try to control the race.”
Fiji had little trouble repelling the first-over thrust of Iholdon, downing him by three-quarters of a length over a sloppy surface. Meadowbranch Memo shot the Lightning Lane for show.
Blownoutofthewater survived a snaky journey through the stretch, drifting out and losing valuable ground. Dave Palone was able to straighten him while continuing to urge him forward. The Explosive Matter-Andover Mermaid gelding earned his second stallion series victory in 1:56.1. Skeezix was second while Moneycounts De Vie completed the ticket.
“He was a little bit bumpy late,” Palone said, “but he’s a horse with a good set of lungs. I thought if I just got him away, I could let him do his work first over, and he might be the strongest. He had plenty of go. It was a matter of keeping him at it.”
Jenny Melander conditions Blownoutofthewater for Steve Organ.
Elysium Lindy popped right to the front for Pantaleano and withstood a severe challenge from the pocket-sitting Dominus Hanover, holding him off by a nose in 1:56.4. Tyson recovered from a pair of breaks to earn show.
“He showed up on Saturday, and because it was so hot, we just let him relax,” said Kelly Stackowicz, who trains the Cantab Hall-Olympic Lindy gelding locally for owner George Beck. “We jogged a little bit yesterday, and he did his job today.”
In the $20,000 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, Skippin By powered by Medusa in the lane to defeat her by a half-length in 1:52.1. Best Of Jenna was a ground-saving third.
Palone drove for Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Wall Brothers Stable and Bruce Soulsby.
With the victory, the five-year-old daughter of Shadow Play-Southern Magnolia boasts a lifetime bankroll of $617,879. It was one of five wins for Palone on the 14-race card.
Tuesday’s program at The Meadows features the Hickory Smoke, a $163,309 Pennsylvania Sires Stake for sophomore colt and gelding trotters. First post is 1 p.m.