WILKES-BARRE PA – After two $102,117 divisions of the third preliminary round of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Monday afternoon, the group may have found a leader – but Flawless Country’s #1 ranking puts her only slightly ahead, just as she was in her 1:54.2 victory, with four other opponents within a length of the wire.
The Southwind Frank – Southwind Aleah filly Flawless Country was sent to the lead by trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt before the :28.3 quarter, then yielded the top to the brushing Insta Glam, who went on to take the field to a :57 half. You Ato Dream rushed up and pushed the leader to the three-quarters in 1:25.1, and when the second-over horse did not keep up, Svanstedt moved Flawless Country out behind You Ato Dream.
Flawless Country is the only double Sire Stakes winner in this group; she also has an Arden Downs win, and was photoed out in her first two starts. She has amassed $136,996 already for Åke Svanstedt Inc., Wolfgang A Stable Inc., and Borje Nasstrom, and ahead of this group’s final prelim at Philly on August 27, she has already all but reserved a spot in her Sire Stakes Championship, which will be held at Pocono on Saturday, September 5.
The other Sires winner was the Father Patrick – Skara Brae miss Gimme Shelter, who benefited from a canny drive from Brian Sears while running her record to 4-for-6, including an Arden Downs triumph, with a 1:57 triumph. Sears got the winner to the lead early, backed off the half to a pedestrian :59.2, then could tack on twin :28.4 quarters to the wire, keeping Gold Stones three-quarters of a length behind for trainer Mike Palone and the partnership of Lone Wolf Stable and Nicholas Catalano.
There were four $20,000 divisions of the complementary Stallion Series races, and the main lesson learned there is that trainer Nifty Norman is patient and good at helping misbehaving young ladies find their way, all three of whom had made a break in their last purse start but won Monday.
Quickest of this trio was the Donato Hanover – Armbro Domino filly Saddet, who took a maiden mark of 1:56.2 after breaking in her first two trips to the gate. The addition of trotting hopples for the second time may have steadied her, as she sat patiently in the pocket, used the Pocono Pike to gain the lead, then withstood closing Pantera by three-quarters of a length for driver Andrew McCarthy and owners Melvin Hartman, Little E LLC, and Enzed Racing Stable Inc.
McCarthy was also in the sulky behind the Southwind Frank – Tactical Caviar filly Callas, also a second-time hopple-user, who had to go uncovered yet still finished in :28.1 to overhaul Love Muffin, the group’s previous – and still only – double winner by a neck at the end of a 1:56.4 mile. Norman trains this filly for Hartman, Little E, and Patricia Stable.
In the third race he won, Norman had the unusual parallel of sending out horses who had made a mistake at odds-on in their only Stallion Series start. They did much better here, with the Cantab Hall filly Rebel Girl, out of the appropriately-named mare Please Beehave, taking a maiden mark of 1:58 in defeating Myreanna by three parts of a length, with Norman stablemate French Souffle (McCarthy) third. George Napolitano Jr., Pocono’s leading driver, handled the winner for Melvin Hartman (a three-time StS winner), David McDuffee, and Diamond Creek Racing.
Trainer Lucas Wallin drove the Cantab Hall – Evermore filly May Karp to a 1:56.3 maiden triumph in the other Stallion Series division, getting a 57 back half out of the Shermay Stables-owned filly despite making a raw challenge to win by three lengths – larger than the other five divisions of baby stakes fillies put together as winning margins combined.