The top-ranked male and female performers in harness racing, Confederate and Sylvia Hanover did not disappoint as Grand Circuit stakes action continued on a star-studded Saturday, Sept. 30 at The Red Mile.
Confederate Flaunts In Captaintreacherous Bluegrass
Harness racing’s current No. 1-ranked horse Confederate seized the lead midway through the race and plowed home to a 1:47.3 victory in the opening division of three for the $219,000 Captaintreacherous Bluegrass Stakes, for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, on Saturday afternoon at The Red Mile.
Confederate cleared control after Ken Hanover clocked a :27.2 first quarter and took the field to the half in :54.1. Gradually driver Tim Tetrick gave Confederate his head and the Sweet Lou colt hit three-quarters in 1:22.4 and lifted flight in the stretch. Ken Hanover tried to answer Confederate’s final quarter sprint but settled for second, beaten 2-1/2 lengths, with Huntinthelastdolar grabbing third another five lengths back. Blue Hunt took fourth.
“I’m getting chills driving him. He’s awesome,” Tim Tetrick said. “I didn’t really have a plan. I was kind of playing off [Christchurch] because he can be hot [and] I wanted to stay close to Ken [Hanover] no matter what. I just kind of played it by feel and we got it done. He’s done everything right and everybody says ‘He can’t go on the lead’, but he can go on the lead. I just like him chasing better.”
The victory continues a dominant campaign from Confederate, who has now won 14 races from 17 lifetime starts and earned more than $1.67 million for owner-breeder Diamond Creek Racing. The Brett Pelling trainee paid $2.16 to win.
Another Diamond Creek-bred in Cannibal later delivered on an odds-on promise with a 1:48.4 victory in the second division of the Bluegrass.
Cannibal clamped onto the point past a :28 first quarter to pocket For Once Inmy Life to the backstretch. He continued under minimal pressure to a :55.2 half and uncorked more speed through the far turn to clock three-quarters in 1:22.4 before spinning for home on a three-length lead. Combustion pulled off the pegs in the lane to give futile chase to Cannibal and settled for second, beaten two lengths, with 61-1 shot South Point rallying for third and For Once Inmy Life settling for fourth.
“I think any other year, [Cannibal] would be our top horse,” Adam Bowden, President of Diamond Creek Farm, said. “He’s a pretty good colt himself, winning the Adios and the Jug elimination as well.”
Racking his 13th win from 21 starts, Cannibal has banked $514,978 for owner Diamond Creek Racing. Nancy Takter trains the colt by Sweet Lou and Yannick Gingras sat in the bike. He paid $2.76 to win.
Diamond Creek Racing completed a sweep of the Captaintreacherous Bluegrass Stakes when its homebred Command clung to a 1:47.4 victory after following heated numbers.
Ants Marching charged through the early sectionals, pacing a modest :27 first quarter and then blazing a half in :53.2 and three-quarters in 1:20 before clocking out for the afternoon. Command sat nestled behind the pacesetter and struck the lead in the stretch as the backfield sprung to life. Bugaboo Lou dove up the inside off a pylon trip and just missed victory as Command fended him off by a neck while El Rey finished third off a first-over push and Act Fast, on his cover, took fourth.
“We just can’t get these smiles off our face,” Shaun Laungani, Vice President of Diamond Creek Farm said. “I know what it's like to be on the other side, we all do, but when the sun shines on you… it’s just the best.”
Brett Pelling trains Command, a Captaintreacherous gelding who won his eighth race from 22 starts and has now earned $342,339. Todd McCarthy steered the $5.60 winner.
Each division of the Captaintreacherous was sponsored by the Captaintreacherous Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farms.
Sylvia Hanover Soars In Bluegrass
Canada’s star pacing filly Sylvia Hanover exacted revenge on her 2-5 rival Twin B Joe Fresh in the second of two divisions for the $159,000 Papi Rob Hanover Bluegrass Stakes, getting the jump and outkicking her foe to the finish of a 1:48.1 mile on Saturday.
Always B Naughty grabbed the lead from Strong Poison to a :27.2 quarter but found herself in a pocket when an antsy Hungry For Love prompted Strong Poison to circle towards the lead. Strong Poison took the field by the half in :54.2 and continued to roll through the final turn as driver Bob McClure angled Sylvia Hanover first over from fourth. By three-quarters in 1:22.1, Strong Poison stayed game to the inside but was no match for the late speed from Sylvia Hanover, who took a 1-1/4-length win while chased home by Twin B Joe Fresh in second. Strong Poison held third from a hard-charging Charleston.
“She seems to like [the travel] – she made a little miscue at Pocono, but I think that was the sharpest she’s ever been,” winning driver Bob McClure said. “She doesn’t do much wrong. I think now that I figured out what she likes and how she likes it, I just abide by her rules and she’ll do the rest.”
Sylvia Hanover chiseled another tally onto her sterling record with 16 wins total from 19 starts and only one race where she finished worse than second. Shawn and Mark Steacy train the daughter of Always B Miki who has earned $1,378,925 for Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. Off as the second choice at 8-5, she paid $5.30 to win.
Mollop Hanover appeared a measured winner while on the ropes in the closing strides, but 3-5 favourite McSeaside came with one last push to nab the first division of the Bluegrass.
Front Page Story surged for the front with Lets Misbehave in the pocket and Vivians Dream on the move along the rim through a :26.4 first quarter. Mollop Hanover tracked Vivians Dream’s brush and slid to the top before a :53.4 half. To the far turn, Mollop Hanover maintained her speed while Front Page Story marched forward along the rim with McSeaside perched on the helmet.
Mollop Hanover clicked three-quarters in 1:22 and sprinted for home on fumes as McSeaside kicked off cover and upped pressure late. Mollop Hanover tried to stay straight and strong at the inside, but McSeaside laid a final lunge to the finish to snag the win by a nose in 1:48.4. High Fashion Star closed for third and Front Page Story settled for fourth.
Winning her 10th race from 25 starts, McSeaside has now banked $547,951 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Beasty LCC, J&T Silva Stables LLC and Knox Services Inc. Dexter Dunn drove the $3.56 winner for trainer Ron Burke.
Each division of the Papi Rob Hanover Bluegrass Stakes was sponsored by the Papi Rob Hanover Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farms.
Hambletonian Winner Tactical Approach Jogs Around Red Mile In Greenshoe Bluegrass
Off a tough-luck trip in the Kentucky Sires Stakes final, Hambletonian winner Tactical Approach left nothing to chance and forged a front-stepping victory under minimal encouragement to clock a 1:50.1 mile in the second of three divisions for the $234,000 Greenshoe Bluegrass Stakes, for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings, on Saturday afternoon.
Leaving from post seven, Tactical Approach landed on the lead to a :28 first quarter with French Wine sitting in the pocket. He strolled up the backside to a :56.1 half and accelerated through the far turn as Air Power pressed forward uncovered out of fifth and into third. By three-quarters in 1:23.3, Tactical Approach opened ground on his competition and crossed over the line 1-1/4 lengths better than French Wine giving pursuit in second. Air Power levelled off to finish third and his stablemate Crown took fourth.
“He felt great on the front today and when I asked him down the lane he responded,” winning driver Scott Zeron said after the race. “Andy’s horse [French Wine] is an even better horse when he pulls the shoes, and he had the shoes off today and he was a valiant contender. [Tactical Approach] has shown he can repeatedly do well if I have him in the right position; sometimes I’ve had him out of position. He’s honestly a driver’s dream. When he heads into the last turn, he tells you he wants to go.”
Tactical Approach has now won nine times from 19 starts and earned $788,989 for owners Robert LeBlanc, John Fielding, Joe Sbrocco and JAF Racing. Nancy Takter trains the colt by Tactical Landing who paid $3.40 to win.
Hambletonian runner-up Oh Well also found his way back to the winner’s circle once he launched off cover and stretched his legs to a 1:51.2 win in the third of the three Bluegrass splits.
Oh Well settled into fourth to a :27 first quarter uncorked by 72-1 shot Country Dagger, who maintained an honest tempo to a :55 half. Dire Straits angled first over as the leader started to tire to the final turn, which towed his stablemate Oh Well into action as the field stacked to three-quarters in 1:24.1. Driver Tim Tetrick showed Oh Well open road off the bottom corner and spurted clear while Little Expensive found room off a pocket ride and followed suit for second, beaten two lengths. Spending Crazy, a 52-1 shot, rallied for third with Kierkegaard K finishing fourth.
“Oh Well has been great from the start,” trainer Marcus Melander said. “He made a lot of money last year and has been great this year as well. Too many seconds, but he’s been racing consistent and good all year. Hopefully we can get a big win here next week [in the Kentucky Futurity] or in the Breeders Crown.”
A colt by Muscle Hill, Oh Well adds to his millionaire status with $1,391,684 earned for owner S R F Stable. He won his seventh race from 19 starts and returned $2.60 to win.
Trainer Marcus Melander opened the Bluegrass Stakes with a 1:50.3 win by his Chapter Seven pupil Kilmister early in the card.
Point Of Perfect carved a :27.3 first quarter before driver Brian Sears planted Kilmister on the lead in the backstretch. Once in front, Kilmister tripped a :55.2 half and 1:23.3 three-quarters while holding all late challengers at bay through the lane. Kilmister registered a 1-1/2-length win over Point Of Perfect, who shook out of the pocket and reclaimed second. Cecil Hanover closed for third and Brodeur grabbed fourth.
Kilmister collected his eighth win from 22 starts and has now earned $809,319 for owner Courant Inc. He paid $4.08 to win.
Each division of the Greenshoe Bluegrass Stakes was sponsored by the Greenshoe Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farm.
Mommamia Volo Rips Swiftest Bluegrass Victory
Kentucky Sires Stakes champion Mommamia Volo notched another Lexington victory with a vicious final-quarter charge when taking the second division of three for the $234,000 King Of The North Bluegrass Stakes, for three-year-old trotting fillies, in 1:51 on Saturday.
Driver Todd McCarthy floated Mommamia Volo away to sit third as Railee Something rolled past Secret Volo for the lead through a :29 first quarter. Railee Something stole tepid fractions through the middle half as she braced for the impending challenge from 3-5 choice Mommavia Volo after a :57 half. She upped the tempo to three-quarters in 1:25 and remained in front into the stretch until Mommamia Volo hit her top gear and glided clear to a headstrong win by 3-1/4 lengths. Railee Something held second from Secret Volo in third and Cando Volo finished fourth.
“It’s a great family that’s been good to the owners and myself,” trainer Carter Pinske said. “She’s kind of like her brother [Amigo Volo]; she just gets better as the year goes on. She had a lot of talent. She’s a great big filly [and] battled a bit of soreness. I think that hindered her last her, but she always did show she had it in her.”
Mommamia Volo has now won five times from 16 starts and added to a bankroll now worth $376,882 for owner-breeders Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Jorgen Jahre Jr. The daughter of Tactical Landing returned $3.30 to win.
Chris Ryder trainee Walner Payton returned to the scene of her best miles as a two-year-old and rekindled that flame with a powerhouse rally to take the first division of the Bluegrass in 1:51.4.
Dexter Dunn wrangled Walner Payton off the speed and sat stubbornly in sixth through a :28.1 first quarter set by Heaven Hanover, who cruised to the half unfettered in :57.1. Walner Payton soon got underway off the pegs and flushed cover from even-money favourite Rose Run Yolanda to the final turn. Swelling off the helmet through three-quarters in 1:25.3, Dunn showed Walner Payton racetrack into the stretch and she swallowed her foes in the last eighth to win by 1-1/2 lengths over Rose Run Yolanda. Flyingdrumsticks S stormed home after a break at the start to nab third from Heaven Hanover at the inside fourth.
“We leave the gate with her quite a lot, but in the Sires Stakes final last start we left out and got too close to a hot pace, so we found the right helmet to follow and she felt great today,” Dexter Dunn said. “She’s a sweetheart; she doesn’t really mind which way you do it with her. [Chris Ryder] took the head check off, took the boots off, she had no shoes on and she felt fantastic.”
Walner Payton has now won seven times from 26 starts and earned $770,689 for owner Kenneth Jacobs. The filly by Walner paid $12.30 to win.
Mambacita, favoured at 1-5, bagged the final Bluegrass division with a 1:51.3 stroll to hold off a rough-gaited charge from Blonde Bombshell.
Sitting second through a :27.4 first quarter, Mambacita angled back outside to take the lead to a :56.2 half with Pride N Joy settling for the pocket and Blonde Bombshell racing third. Canterbury Hanover crept first over from sixth and ranged up to third through the final turn, but still remained two lengths off the lead past three-quarters in 1:24.1.
Mambacita shifted gears and straightened strongly for home while Blonde Bombshell slipped off the pegs and to the center of the track to try and track down the leader in the lane. Mambacita held firmly on the lead and kept a neck in front of Blonde Bombshell as she jumped stride in second. Una Madonna rallied for third and Canterbury Hanover settled for fourth.
Tony Alagna trains Mambacita, a daughter of Tactical Landing, for owners Alagna Racing LLC, Crawford Farms Racing and Pryde Stables Inc. She won for the 10th time from 28 tries and has earned $779,088. Scott Zeron drove the $2.52 winner.
Each division of the King Of The North Bluegrass was sponsored by Kountry Lane Standardbreds.
Live harness racing resumes at The Red Mile next Friday, Oct. 6 with the International Stallion Stakes for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings and two-year-old pacing fillies.
Horsepeople are reminded that week two of the Grand Circuit meet operates on a Friday-Sunday schedule, with closing day on Sunday, Oct. 8. The entry box for Friday’s card closes at 9 a.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, Oct. 3 and scratch time is Wednesday, Oct. 4)by 9:30 a.m. Contact the race office at 859-255-0752 for more information.
(The Red Mile)