By Frank & Ray Cotolo
(H) Denotes Hambletonian Eligible
Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) was overflowing with fillies and colts at Harrah’s Philadelphia and the Meadows while New Jersey Sires Stakes’ (NJSS) leg two for the division went off at the Meadowlands and Mohawk presented the SBOA final for filly trotters—all on May 24.
A quintet of colt miles for sophs at the Meadows, each worth $48,000 and change, was also on Friday’s harness menu. The opener was won by Spider Blue Chip (H-Andover Hall) with Eric Ledford in the bike ($7.00) for trainer Chuck Sylvester. Spider Blue Chip took the lead with a brush at three-quarters, just as favorite Major Athens (H-Andover Hall) went off stride. Spider Blue Chip was 2 lengths the best in 1:55.4.
Our choice, Brew Master (H-Glidemaster) took the second spot at 7-1 and Its Complicated was third. David McDuffee and Melvin Hartman are the owners of Spider Blue Chip.
Aperfectyankee (H-Yankee Glide) just nailed our choice, Valley Of Sin, in 1:57.3 to take the second PASS split. The win was worth $6.80 to the supporters of trainer-driver-owner Jim Oscarsson’s top-rated colt and 2012 Peter Haughton winner. Aperfectyankee came from behind to pass Dontyouforgetit (H-Cantab Hall), who finished third after losing ground to Valley Of Sin.
The middle round went to Jimmy Takter’s High Bridge (H-Cantab Hall) in 1:55.1. Paying $3.20 as the public choice, High Bridge sat second behind Celebrity Maserati (H-Andover Hall), pulled out in the stretch and beat that one much the way Celebrity Maserati won the Dexter Cup at the beginning of the Hambletonian Trail this season. Bloodstockshalltab (H-Cantab Hall) finished third. Our choice, San Donato (H-Donato Hanover) was out of the money at 28-1.
Christina Takter, John Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Jim Fielding own High Bridge; Yannick Gingras drove.
Smoother Ride (H-Yankee Glide), one of only two eligibles in the eight-horse field, won the penultimate Meadows PASS for soph trotters. The winning time was 1:56.1. Our choice, Bluto (H-Donato Hanover) was second. Picture This finished third.
Smoother Ride made two moves, one in a brief duel to get the early lead and the other to pull out and trot past Bluto. Smoother Ride paid $6.80 for trainer and co-owner Steve Elliot and co-owner Angelo Frassetto.
The fifth PASS was taken by Punxsutawney (H-Glidemaster) in 1:56.1 with driver Mike Wilder steering for trainer Tim Pinske. As the public’s fourth choice, Punxsutawney paid $16.80 to win.
Favorite Possessed Fashion (H-Donato Hanover) had to go first up to chase Boffin (H-Donato Hanover) and was passed by a late-moving Wind Of The North, who got second at 30-1. Possessed Fashion held third. Our choice, Arctic Tale (59-1), galloped at the start and was never in the race. Jerry Graham owns Punxsutawney.
One NJSS affair for each sex was on the agenda in the first half of the Meadowlands program, where the track was labeled “sloppy.” T
Our choice, Southwind Cocoa (H-Chocolatier) was second at 5-2, coming from farther behind than Silver Credit, catching the show horse, ineligible Vida Vie who was 64-1.
Harrah’s Philadelphia hosted four PASS splits for soph-fillies with eligibles everywhere. Each split went for $61,000 and some change.
The first event saw Fashion Athena (H-Broadway Hall) take an aggressive move early with driver John Campbell for his trainer-brother Jim, and command the fractions throughout to win in 1:56.3 on the track labeled “good.”
The Fashion Farms LLC-owned filly took the early lead from Royal Assets (H-Donato Hanover), who finished second, while Faith managed to pick up third by grinding to the top three in the stretch. She paid $4.20 to win. Our choice, Cupcake (H-Glidemaster) broke at three-quarters to finish fifth at 9-2.
Next, Lady Broadway, a non-eligible, dominated six other state-breds to win wire to wire in 1:55.1 for driver Jim Morrill, Jr. and trainer Chris Oakes. Paying $10.20 to win, she defeated Mistery Woman (H-Donato Hanover) and Classic Martine (H-Classic Photo), who were second and third, respectively after a brief early duel and no further incidents. Susan Oakes, Hauser Bros Racing Enterprises LLC and Conrad Zurich own Lady Broadway. Our choice, Aspidistra Hanover (H-Donato Hanover) was 13-1; she broke at the gate and was never in the mix.
Another giant mile from Frau Blucher (H-Broadway Hall) was the highlight of the third PASS episode as Jim Morrill, Jr. took her wire to wire to win in 1:55, again riding for trainer Chris Oakes. Our choice, Coffeecake Hanover (H-Cantab Hall) was 7-1 and finished second four lengths behind Frau Blucher. Upfrontluckycarol (H-Andover Hall) held for third. The winner was a prohibitive favorite, paying $2.60 for owners Hauser Bros Racing Enterprises LLC, J&T Silva Stables LLC and Matt Tudisco.
Completing the PASS filly action, Ruffleshaveridges defeated seven others (six eligibles) with a mile in 1:56.4. Sitting in the catbird seat with Dan Rawlings in the sulky behind Curtsy Hanover, Ruffleshaveridges steered clear of the leader’s break in the stretch and was filled with trot to get up for the win. Rick Beinhauer trains and owns Ruffleshaveridges, a non-eligible that paid $17.20. The event was riddled with breaks, including a bad jump from the favorite (our choice) Defiant Donato. After an inquiry concerning Curtsy Hanover, who finished second even with the break but was placed fifth, Sina (H-Cantab Hall) finished third-placed second and Good Intentions (H-Cantab Hall) finished fourth-placed third.
Keep watching the Hambletonian Trail blog for updates and races involving eligibles through July and for live coverage from TwinSpires on Hambletonian day. Read race results at the special section archived at the Hambletonian Society web site.