CHESTER PA – The annual stand of the John Simpson Sr. Memorial stakes series, honoring the Hall of Fame horseman and executive, got underway on Sunday afternoon at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The first group to be featured was the two-year-old pacing colts, competing in two $46,100 divisions of a race named the Bret Hanover, since all the Simpson Stakes carry a subname of a horse that was associated with Simpson throughout his long and storied career.
The faster of the two winners was Just Bet It All, who lowered his mark to 1:51.3 in rein to Corey Callahan for Philly’s top trainer Per Engblom and the ownership of Zippett Racing Stable, Evan Katz, and Amos Lengacher. A gelded son of Betting Line – Just Fine, Just Bet It All moved to the lead after a :27 opener and was in control of the situation through fractions of :56 and 1:23.3 en route to a 5¼ length triumph over Mac’s Delight. Favored Voukefalas, the winner of the NJSS final, an Arden Downs division, and a rich NJ Classic-A event, evidently needed the race after having competed only once July 30; having dull cover didn’t help him, but he didn’t show his previous kick in finishing fourth here.
Also enjoying Simpson stakes success on Sunday at Philly was the Captaintreacherous – KJ’s Justine colt Ken Hanover, a 1:53.4 winner. Marcus Miller and his favored colt followed a similar style of tactics as did Just Bet It All: be moving near the :28 opening quarter, take over for good in front of the stands, post fractions of :57.3 and 1:26.3, and then sprint home in :27.1, 2¼ lengths to the good of Captain Mikey. Rollie “Pollie” Mallar trains the winner, and he is the co-owner with Patrick Leavitt, William Jordan, and Dennis Osterholt.
The other big story coming – again – out of Philly was the very long streak of sulky form currently being exhibited by Simon Allard. Allard won four races on the day, the ninth consecutive Philly card during which he was either leading driver or co-leading driver for the program. During the three-week string, Allard has reported home first 32 times.
The two-year-old colt trotters will gather together for three divisions of a $104,010 Simpson Stake when racing returns to Philly on Thursday at 12:25; that same card will co-feature an extremely competitive field of fast-class trotters in a $22,500 handicap event. Program pages for the Philly races are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html.