CHESTER PA – She had already established her credentials by winning the first two starts of her career, both Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, in 1:51 and 1:50.2, the latter time within a fifth of a second of the world record.
But the Captaintreacherous – Stonebridge Sundae two-year-old Beach Cowgirl then had been scratched sick, and went into Thursday’s final PaSS preliminary leg at Harrah’s Philadelphia having not raced in 39 days. How would she respond to the illness and lack of a recent start?
Very nicely, thank you, as she won over a very good Hello Yes Hi in 1:51.4, establishing herself as the horse to beat in her September 4’s $250,000 PaSS Championship at Philly – and perhaps on even greater stages after that.
Driver Joe Bongiorno got Beach Cowgirl, starting from post two, around Proud Mary to her inside early in the Sires contest, then yielded to Hello Yes Hi, who had been favored in every flash of the betting until the last one off two straight successes including a 1:52.4 PaSS win. Hello Yes Hi (Tim Tetrick) hit the quarter in :27.2 and must have shown no signs of wanting to yield, as Bongiorno (and perhaps Dexter Dunn behind Proud Mary) seem to rethink quarter moves, allowing Hello Yes Hi to get a breather to the half in :56.3.
Down the backstretch longshots (despite both already having marks of 1:54 or less) Daffled Hanover and Ginger Tree Coco advanced, but after the 1:24.1 three-quarters it seemed apparent that the race was going to be decided by the three leavers. Hello Yes Hi went on strongly, and Proud Mary angled out, but it was Beach Cowgirl, taking the inner route, who got the big check by a neck over Hello Yes Hi in 1:51.4, with Proud Mary third. Trainer Jennifer Bongiorno had brought back the Team’s special filly in winning form for Joseph Di Scala Jr., Zippett Racing Stable, Scarlett Stables LLC, and JAF Racing LLC.
Though Beach Cowgirl won three Sire Stakes starts, she was not the leading pointwinner in her division, as the Captaintreacherous – My Little Delight filly My Little Captain ran her Sire Stakes record to 4-3-1-0 by taking a new mark of 1:52.2 in her cut, like the others worth $54,586. Tim Tetrick made two speed moves with My Little Captain during opening fractions of :28 and :57, then started the sprint home, hitting the three-quarters in 1:25 before tacking on a :27.2 kicker in winning by 1¼ lengths over Mind Blowing. Andrew Stafford trains the talented two-year-old for EVM Racing LLC.
In the third Sires event, the Stay Hungry – Venus Delight filly My Hungry Girl also earned a new mark after a 1:53.2 mile. Yannick Gingras made the lead with the winner in a :28.1 opener, then yielded to favored Absolute Power and tailed that one through midsplits of :57 and 1:25.1 before tipping her outside. My Hungry Girl took her cue and took off for a 2¼ length victory over the chalk for trainer Ron Burke and owner Brad Grant, her first win since breaking her maiden in her career debut.
There were also three $20,000 divisions of Stallion Stakes events, with those fillies also seeking to earn points and qualify for their Championship, to be held at Pocono the day after the PaSS Championships at Philly. Assuring herself of a spot was the leading prelim pointwinner Little Lady J, a daughter of A Rocknroll Dance – Monet’s Lilly who now has three of her North American division-leading seven victories in StS action, this one in a new mark of 1:53.4 for driver David Miller and owner/trainer Mitchell York.
Trainer Nifty Norman won the other two Stallion Series divisions with maidens, one being the Always B Miki – Fit To Frame miss Falana Hanover, who won in 1:54.3 as the favorite for driver Dexter Dunn and owners Pinske Stables, Enzed Racing Stable Inc., Lawrence Means, and Jerry Kovach. The other – and fastest – divisional winner was as far pari-mutuelly from Falana Hanover as can be imagined, as Victor Kirby rallied the Heston Blue Chip – Moonlight Spin filly Romantic Evening through a late-developing seam and was along in 1:53.3 for Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Bottom Line Racing LLC while paying $109.20 to her scattered backers. This was the second day in a row that driver Victor Kirby had brought in a $100+ winner at Philly.
Even Sire Stakes don’t totally derail “Trottin’ Thursday” in southeast Pennsylvania, and the $22,500 handicap trot provided an exciting finish – and vindication for the Race Office – as the $1,794,699 winner Amigo Volo, assigned the outside post eight, became only the seventh horse in 1087 races at Philly this year to rally from as far back as third-over, defeating Incommunicado by a head in 1:53.2, with Storm Is Raging only another head back in third. Trainer Nifty Norman got his third winner of the day with the Dexter Dunn-driven Father Patrick gelding, who is owned by Pinske Stables and David J. Miller.
Tim Tetrick boosted his season-leading win total at the track with four first-place finishes.
The fast-class pacers return to their new Harrah’s home of Friday, with the $22,500 feature event handicapping Komodo Beach, who in his last start equaled the fastest local clocking of the year at 1:48.4, to the outermost slot. Sunday will see two-year-old trotting fillies in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series action; Harrah’s Philly will be hosting all four of divisions during the $1M Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship Day for the freshmen on Sunday, September 4. Program pages are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html.