CHESTER PA – Always B Laughin and Easy To Please waged a fierce war through the stretch drive of a division of the Hardie Hanover, the John Simpson Sr. stake for three-year-old pacing fillies, and when the limestone settled on Thursday afternoon at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the Always B Miki filly Always B Laughin had a neck up at the end of a 1:48.4 mile. That time tied the divisional track record set by Party Girl Hill last year, and was only a fifth of a second off the divisional world record, set by Kiss Me Onthebeach at Pocono in 2016.
Always B Laughin flew away from the gate; Easy To Please was looped early and settled in the two-hole before the :26.1 quarter, but then moved in front of the stands to the lead before a hot :54.1 half. Favored Melania came uncovered down the backstretch but flattened before the 1:21.2 three-quarters; Always B Laughin vacated the pocket under Todd McCarthy’s direction at headstretch, and though Easy To Please fought gamely, Always B Laughin had stronger steps late in taking a new mark.
In their recent Championship section of the Kentucky program, High Minded and So Irresistible traded 1-2 finishes in the first two prelims, and then in the third prelim and final they traded 3-4 end placings. So it was no surprise that they hooked up again as they came north for a Hardie Hanover stakes showdown, and High Minded gave driver Todd McCarthy an event double and became the only Liberty Bell – Simpson series double winner among the fillies with a mile in 1:51.
The victorious Captaintreacherous filly used the pole to advantage and set fractions of :26.3, :55.3, and 1:23.1. So Irresistible and Todd’s brother Andrew had to come on the grind and made life tough for the favored winner, but High Minded prevailed by a neck for trainer Linda Toscano, whose Camelot Stable shares ownership in the winner of $231,987 with Fred Wallace, The Bay’s Stable LLC, and Steve Stewart.
So Miki Hanover has now won four of her last five starts after the daughter of Always B Miki went the uncovered route but still paced by leader (:26.3, :54.4, and 1:22.1) Chase Lounge in setting a new mark of 1:50.1. Corey Callahan guided the in-form filly, who won by a half-length, for trainer Jake Leamon andowners Michael Cimaglio, William Salmeri, and Charles Elliott.
In the faster division of the Simpson Stakes for this group’s trotters, known as the Elma, the Donato Hanover miss Melania rewrote her lifetime record to 1:53.3 by rallying out of the pocket for a three-quarter length victory over favored Hot As Hill. A Hopeful Prayer had parked the winner to a :27.1 opener before yielding, and Melania in turn relinquished command to trail Hot As Hill through midsplits of :55.4 and 1:24.4. Melania proved the stronger of the top two late in winning for trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt and owner Dr. Patty Hogan.
In the other Elma cut the Bar Hopping filly Pub Crawl made the lead quickly from the outside post six, recorded fractionals of :28.1, :57.2, and 1:25.4, then powered off to win by three lengths in 1:54. A winner of $395,075 in her career including several Grand Circuit events, Pub Crawl was driven by Andy Miller for trainer/wife Julie and the ownership of Marvin & Lynn Katz, Al Libfeld, and Sam Goldband.
Total purses in the Thursday Simpson contests came to $178,900. Friday afternoon at Philly there will be $201,200 of Simpson series stakes action, as three-year-old colts will go three divisions strong at each gait, in the Albatross for pacers and the Ayres for trotters.
There will also be no fewer than three carryover pools into the Friday card: a $2640.77 carryover into the first race Superfecta; a $2532.26 carryover into the third race Jackpot Hi-5; and a $743.21 carryover into the seventh race Pick 3. Program pages for the 12:25 Friday card are available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html.