(H) Denotes Hambletonian eligible.
Vernon Downs presented two eliminations for each trotting division for the Empire Breeders’ Classic on Sunday afternoon, June 2. The top four in each division, plus a random fifth-place finisher will head to next week’s $250,000 finals.
The first elimination featured To Dream On’s (H-Credit Winner) sophomore debut; she went off the 1-9 favorite. To Dream On got away fourth, with Proclaiming April (H-Conway Hall) in front of her in third and Hall La La (H-American Mike) setting the pace. Bouncing Bax (H-Credit Winner) was getting the pocket trip but was locked in as Proclaiming April went first over. To Dream On tracked that move and kept up well with her cover.
Wygant Lady paid $51.50 to win. Alan Stull and the trainer Taylor Gower own her and she was guided by Cat Manzi.
Perfect Alliance (H-Credit Winner) took the second elimination for the fillies in a wire-to-wire 1:55.2 mile. She was unchallenged for the entire race but Lola De Vie was coming at her in the final 16th. Crazy Grigio (H-Crazed) broke at the start but caught the field by the half and circled rivals to finish fourth, qualifying for the final.
Perfect Alliance went off the post-time favorite and returned $4.30 to win. Little E LLC owns the daughter of Credit Winner, while she is trained by Robert Bencal and was driven by Yannick Gingras.
The public was correct again in the first colt elimination, where Tirade Hanover rode a pocket trip behind Modest Prince (H-RC Royalty) to win in 1:53.1. Explosive Action (H-Conway Hall) galloped into the first turn and Order By Keeper (H-Credit Winner) broke in the middle of the far turn.
Modest Prince finished second to Tirade Hanover but made a break on the wire and was placed third, putting Blackwolf Run in second. Fashion Blizzard (H-Credit Winner) did not do anything in the mile. Tirade Hanover ($5.70) is owned by L. Raymer, S.M. Moss and H & H R Solomon, trained by Tyler Raymer and was driven by Victor Kirby.
Breeders’ Crown runner-up Royalty For Life (H-RC Royalty) was making his first start of the year in the second elimination. However, he never got into the race. He trailed the field throughout the mile.
The race was won by Jurgen Hanover (H-Credit Winner) in a wire-to-wire 1:54.1 mile. Twisted Pretzel (H-Crazed) trotted in the pocket and the only challenger to Jurgen Hanover was Pine Credit (H-Credit Winner), who settled for third. Fico (H-Credit Winner) closed from second over to finish fourth.
Jurgen Hanover went off the second-choice and returned $4.50 to win. Norman and Gerald Smiley, along with T L P Stables, own him. He is trained by Donna Marshall and was driven to victory by David Miller.