CHESTER PA – The cream of the Pennsylvania-sired two-year-olds, many of whom have established North American credentials already, will be coming en masse to Harrah’s Philadelphia this Sunday afternoon, as the southeast Pennsylvania track hosts four $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship, along with $50,000 consolation events for each of the four groups.
The freshman with the biggest reputation is the Muscle Hill – Cooler Schooner trotting gelding Real Cool Sam, who is the highest-ranked two-year-old in the North American Top 10 polls. Real Cool Sam is undefeated in seven career starts, including three Sire Stakes outings, and he has already tied two world records for age, sex, and gait – 1:53.1 for a mile track in winning the Peter Haughton Final on Hambletonian Day, and 1:54.4 for a 5/8-mile track in his next start, a Sire Stakes contest at The Meadows.
The Pennsylvania filly counterpart of Real Cool Sam has been his fellow trotter Sister Sledge, a daughter of Father Patrick – Behindclosedoors, who will begin from post two in the eleventh race for driver Yannick Gingras, trainer Ron Burke, and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Jason Melillo, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. Sister Sledge is undefeated in six career races, and she was the only horse in the four categories of freshmen to post a win in each of the four Sire Stakes prelims.
Sister Sledge is also loaded with speed – in fact, her 1:53.4 win over the Pocono 5/8-miler is a full second than any male in this division has gone over that size of track, which is also Philly’s size.
The speed concept is not limited to the trotting side of the Sire Stakes, either, as the filly Sweet Ace and the colt Papi Rob Hanover share the 2019 standard for any baby on a 5/8-mile track, 1:50.4. Papi Hanover, a son of Somebeachsomewhere – Panera Hanover, in fact, needed that clocking in the final Sire Stakes preliminary for the win to get enough points just to get into the Championship. The racing fortunes again smiled on Papi Hanover when he drew post one for his twelfth race Championship for driver David Miller, trainer Brett Pelling, and owner David McDuffie – although starting just to his right is the prelim pointleader Adriano Hanover, a three-time winner in the preliminary legs.
The Sweet Lou – One Ace Too Many filly Sweet Ace posted her 1:50.4 clocking not in a Sire Stakes contest, but in a division of the Arden Downs stake on Adios Day. In the Sire Stakes she has recorded a first, a second, a third, and a fourth, and she’ll have to be at her best in the tenth race from post six for driver Dexter Dunn, trainer Ron Burke, and the partnership of Burke Racing Stable, Jason Melillo, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Lawrence Karr. (Incidentally, the equine Larry Karr, named after the owner, goes in race five at Philly on Sunday.)
Making the task harder for Sweet Ace, and indeed any filly in the field, is the fact that the two leading pointwinners, Lyons Sentinel and Rocknificent, will begin from post one and two, respectively. Lyons Sentinel has a 6-3-3-0 lifetime record, with the three losses by a nose, a head, and a neck, and she holds a two-one edge on Rocknificent in August head-to-head matchups.
As noted, also carded will being $50,000 Sire Stakes consolation events for the next-highest pointwinners in the preliminary battles, with pacing fillies in race two, trotting colts in race three, trotting fillies in race six, and pacing colts in race seven.
Over $1.3 million in purse money will be distributed during the Sunday extravaganza at Harrah’s Philadelphia, with first post set for 12:40 p.m.