WILKES-BARRE PA – Niki Hill came within two-fifths of a second of the world and track record for two-year-old pacing fillies over a 5/8-mile track while making only her second lifetime start, taking a division of a Pennsylvania Sire Stake in 1:50.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday afternoon.
A daughter of Always B Miki – Road Bet and thus a half-sister to the millionaire speedster Cattlewash, Niki Hill, a winner in her debut at The Meadowlands in 1:53.1 - :26.2, was sent off as the second choice behind Captain Cowgirl, who came to the race undefeated in three career starts including a Sire Stakes triumph. Captain Cowgirl got control of the race nearing a :27 opening panel, but Dexter Dunn then sent Niki Hill brushing in front of the stands and went to the lead before the :55.4 half. The spectacular baby could not be caught from there, hitting the three-quarters in 1:23.2 and then adding a :27.1 last quarter in defeating the game Captain Cowgirl by a length.
Drivers David Miller and Andrew McCarthy won the other divisions of the Sire Stakes, and each also took a Stallion Series cut. They won in both sections with a daughter of Captaintreacherous and a daughter of Sweet Lou – the drivers reversing the sires in their successes.
McCarthy won a Sires division with the Sweet Lou – Rock My Girl miss Onecrookedleg, who looked supported by sturdy pins as she closed in 27.1 to take a new record of 1:52.4. Owned by trainer Brett Bittle and Dan Bittle, the favored Onecrookedleg took the lead before the half and would not be caught while running her record to 4-2-2-0.
Miller’s PaSS win came with the Captaintreacherous – My Little Dragon filly Treacherous Dragon, a three-quarter sister to millionaire Stay Hungry. The “Dragon” was a firebreathing pocket rocket in catching favored pacesetter Hit Me Up by a neck, coming home in 27.4 to break her maiden in 1:54. Brett Pelling trains the winner, who is owned by Hot Lead Farm LLC.
None of the Sire Stakes winners had even started in an earlier prelim; the same was true in two of the three Stallion Series successes. The one filly who had raced in the StS before – in fact, had a win and a place in the competition -- was the Miller / Sweet Lou pairing, Lyons Serenity (dam Southwind Serenity), who used a midrace move to propel her to a new mark of 1:52.3 as the people’s choice. Jim King Jr., top trainer of pacing distaffs, conditions the winner of 3-of-4 for Threelyonsracing.
The team effort of McCarthy / Captaintreacherous successful in the Stallion Series was Southwind Java (dam Southwind Johanne), who broke her maiden in 1:54. “Java” swept her field down the backstretch and went on to victory for trainer Mark Harder, who is also co-owner with Dean Lockhart, Wayne Carleton, and Deena Frost.
Completing the stakes winners on the day was the Somebeachsomewhere - Mesmerize Bluechip filly Mexican Hanover, who was sixth at the top of the stretch in her Stallion Series cut, but closed powerfully to break her maiden at 13-1. Todd McCarthy drove the Nifty Norman trainee for Pinske Stables, David J. Miller, and Lawrence Means.
This PaSS/PaStS division has its final elimination on August 20 at The Meadows, and with the mad scramble the pointstandings are right now in both groupings, many horses will be looking to have their “A” game ready that day to earn a shot at the respective Championships.
Tuesday’s 12:30 card at Pocono will be headed by two $15,300 contests, with the trotters in race eight and the pacers in race ten. On Saturday’s 12:30 program, star three-year-old pacing fillies such as Fire Start Hanover and Grace Hill will be looking to clinch starting spots in their Sire Stakes Championship, to be held here at Pocono on Saturday, September 4, while competing in their final preliminary; Stallion Series action is also part of a very solid card. Program pages are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.