CHESTER PA – The stars of the day Friday at Harrah’s Philadelphia, where three-year-old trotting fillies contested their first preliminary round in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Pennsylvania Stallion Series, were driver Yannick Gingras, sire Cantab Hall – and a $200,000 yearling, never on the board in seven previous career starts, winning a Sire Stakes section and paying $100.80, or more than the other thirteen winners on the card combined.
The longshot special was Hallintheclouds, who wasn’t a longshot on pedigree – sired by Cantab Hall, who added three Stallion Series credits, and out of the Yankee Glide mare Headintheclouds, the dam of the $870G+ winner Barn Girl. And she wasn’t a longshot in the mind of trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt, who sent her to the lead just after a :28 opener, then brought her back uncovered after two horses had passed her to the :57.2 half. Hallintheclouds went right up to favored Magical Beliefs, looked her in the eye to the 1:26.1 three-quarters, and went right on by headstretch, trotting out a 2 1/2 length winner over Firedbylindie, also used early and late, in a new mark of 1:55.4 for Åke Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Fayette AB, and Gabriella’s LLC.
Another Sire Stakes winner for Gingras was the Muscle Massive miss Sonnet Grace, who made her 2019 debut a successful one. The well-bred filly (CR Kay Suzie is her granddam) set fractions of :27.4, :57, and 1:25, then held off the late rush of longshot Personal Pride (Svanstedt -- a foreshadowing of the next division?) by a nose for trainer Ron Burke and the Sonnet Grace Stable.
The Possess The Will filly Millies Possesion, unraced at two, is undefeated in two career starts after setting an individual standard of 1:54.4 in the other Sires section. Dexter Dunn patiently worked up to the lead with “Millie” past a :28 opener, then put up middle splits of :57.2 and 1:25.3, after which she still had plenty to be three lengths clear of Jezzys Legacy on the wire for trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms LLC.
All five Stallion Series winners lowered their marks in victory. The three daughters of Cantab Hall who won were Cant Touch It, a 1:55.3 winner in her seasonal debut while a neck to the good of Swizzle Sticks for driver Scott Zeron, trainer Nancy Johansson, and the partnership of Christina Takter, John Fielding, and Stephen Gordon; Altercation, who withstood Lindy Misssunshine by a neck in 1:56.3 for driver Marcus Miller, trainer Jenny Melander, and the ownership of Melander Racing Inc. Noonan Harness Racing LLC, Clark Stables LLC, and John Devito; and Keystone Abbey, a half length winner over Giant Possession in 1:56.4 for driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Beaver, the latter co-owner with Donald Robertson, Martin Yoder, and R.B.H. Ventures Inc.
The Donato Hanover filly American Kronos was sharp in her 2019 bow, winning by three lengths over Matterlei in 1:54.3, fastest of all Stallion Series divisions, and quicker than three of the four Sire Stakes cuts. Yannick Gingras drove for trainer Julie Miller and owners Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, and David Goodrow. The final Stallion Series victress was the Explosive Matter miss Spring In Paris, now five-for-six in 2019 after downing Fashion Rachel by a three length margin in 1:55.1 for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Steve LeBlanc, and Leblanc Racing Inc., Glenn Dyke, and Douglas Johnson.