CHESTER PA – Anoka Hanover, the Dan Patch awardwinner for two-year-old trotting fillies in 2020, was ready to go in her 2021 bow, equaling the Harrah’s Philadelphia track record of 1:52.3 for her three-year-old section in her division of the first prelim of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on Friday afternoon.
Mazzarati controlled the early pace in :28 and :56.3; at the midpoint Anoka Hanover was fifth. But Todd McCarthy then asked “Anoka” to go, and she responded with an individual third split of :27 to get within a neck of the frontstepper. Anoka Hanover just kept eating up racetrack in the :27.3 last quarter, going on to a 3¼ length victory over the pacesetter while tying the track standard set by Whose Blues last year, and also matching her own quickest clocking.
Anoka Hanover rewarded the public’s 2-5 belief in her; the other two Sires section saw upsets. The Andover Hall filly Love Muffin joined Team Orange Crush, driver Andy and trainer Julie Miller, over the winter after winning seven of ten, and last year’s PA Stallion Series champion stepped up her game here; she made two speed moves in fractions of :27.3, :57, and 1:25, trotting on gamely to defeat early-season sensation and favorite Bella Bellini in 1:52.4, a new mark (the winner had just qualified in 1:53 at The Meadowlands).
Bella Bellini trotted her third quarter in 27.1 raw and hung in the battle for win to the wire, as did last year’s Sire Stakes champion Flawless Country from the pocket (the former photoed out the latter, three-quarters of a length off the winner). But Love Muffin got the major glory in this tough PaSS division for Andy Miller Stable Inc. and rewarded her backers to the tune of 6-1.
You Ato Dream, one of 2020’s “bridesmaids” with one win and seven seconds, took a back seat to nobody today at 13-1, winning her Sires division while equaling her mark of 1:54.2 and giving her sire Donato Hanover a second PaSS siring credit. Trainer/driver Jeff Gregory, co-owner as Jeff Gregory Inc. with William Richardson, George Romanoff, and Martin Garey, had You Ato Dream boiling away from the gate, with Gimme Shelter gapping in the pocket by the :27.4 quarter. The half was backed off to :57.3, with Gimme Shelter again looking to be pulling herself up and here being involved in the pylons, with Rebel Girl getting knocked offstride and favored Donna Soprano forced wide. Donna Soprano, now with over eight lengths to make up, came up uncovered down the back and to the 1:25.3 three-quarters, with Gimme Shelter again going enough on a straightaway to keep the chalk parked.
You Ato Dream remained clear as Gimme Shelter failed to sustain on a turn for a third straight time, giving Donna Soprano a chance to tuck in the pocket – but that one soon independently rolled offstride. It was then clear sailing to the wire, alone by 3¼ lengths, for You Ato Dream, now a winner of $241,365.
In five divisions of complementary Stallion Series competition, Andrew McCarthy drove three winners, including the only favorite besides Anoka Hanover to win in stakes on the day – the Father Patrick miss Piper Hanover, breaking her maiden in 1:54.1 for trainer Tony Alagna and owners Brittany Farms LLC, Marvin & Lynn Katz, and Al Libfeld. Andrew’s other two Stallion Series winners were second choices: the Bar Hopping filly (out of the dam of Six Pack) My Abigail, who took her career debut in 1:56.1 for trainer Luc Blais and Determination, and Wixx Hanover, giving Donato Hanover a third stakes credit on the day as the filly transitioned to the care of Noel Daley (also a stakes doubler) by equaling her mark of 1:55.3 for the partnership of Roland Mallar, Patrick Leavitt, and William Hartt.
Todd McCarthy added a second stakes win, as did sire Father Patrick, with Dazzling Reign, now perfect in two seasonal starts after equaling her 1:56.4 mark for trainer Claude Huckabone III and owner James Crawford IV. The other StS winner was 19-1 upsetter Evening Stroll, a daughter of Cantab Hall who kept her composure while four of her seven rivals lost theirs and lowered her mark to 1:54.2 for driver Marcus Miller, trainer Jim Campbell, and owners Tony Holmes and Walter Zent.
Sunday will see the final card of this racing week, with post time at 12:40 p.m. Next week there will be five cards including Memorial Day Monday at 12:40, with the highlight being the Sunday May30 program: the three $100,000 events for the free-for-allers, plus the glamour guys in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts. Program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html.