CHESTER PA – The leader pro tem of the Pennsylvania-sired three-year-old pacing fillies may not have been in attendance at Harrah’s Philadelphia Friday afternoon, but the two four-horse fields that chased after $93,142 in each division of the Sire Stakes’ fourth and final preliminary leg put on a pair of spectacular shows for fans and horsemen alike.
The Captaintreacherous filly Rocknificent had been entered to go Saturday at Mohawk in addition to being drawn into the Sire Stakes; she withdrew from the Canadian race Friday morning and turned up at Philly, and then she went an epic mile, defeating Lyons Sentinel by a neck in 1:50.2 after a fierce stretch battle. Rocknificent drew the innermost post and put up soft early fractions of :28 and :57, and then driver Scott Zeron asked her for more as Lyons Sentinel came from last in the short field, reaching the three-quarters in 1:24.1.
How do you follow an act like that? By smashing a 10-year-old (minus two days) divisional track record by 4/5 of a second, and JK First Lady did just that in drawing off to a 2¾ length victory over pacesetting New Year in 1:49.2, lowering the previous 1:50.1 Philly (then Chester) standard of Put On A Show by almost a second. Driver Andrew McCarthy made his move late with the daughter of Western Ideal out of Horse of the Year JK Shesalady, and the “First Lady” went into overdrive when shown racetrack, motoring home in :53.4 - :26.4 while scoring for trainer Nancy Takter and the 3 Brothers Stable.
A quick unofficial calculation of the Sire Stakes pointstandings (contact the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission for all official tallies) gave this listing of the top ten: Rocknificent, Lyons Sentinel, Party Girl Hill, JK First Lady, Alexis’s Beach, Drama Act, Baby You’re the Best, New Year, Dance Club, and Shouldabeenatd (scratched Friday). Eight will face the starter at Philly on Sunday, September 6 in this group’s Sire Stakes Championship, while there will be two programmed also eligibles.
There were also five $20,000 Stallion Series divisions for this class, and they were important in determining who will go in the Stallion Series Championship, which will be held at The Meadows the day after the Harrah’s Philadelphia Championships.
As in the Sire Stakes, no filly won in all four preliminaries, but Going Gone Hanover and The Bethinator marked themselves as the fillies to beat by notching three wins and a second. Andy McCarthy, a three-time stake winner on the afternoon as he continues an August to remember, made a tough two-move trip work for Going Gone Hanover, with the Captaintreacherous miss stepping her own back half in :53.3 to draw clear and take a new mark of 1:51 for trainer Brett Bittle and Yankeeland Partners LLP.
The Somebeachsomewhere filly The Bethinator found a foe to each side of her as she approached the wire, but she maintained an advantage to the line, stopping the timer in 1:52 for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer Brett Pelling, and Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc. Caviart Heather went first-over and came out second, a half length behind the winner and winning a photo over inside-charging Martinique Beach.
Double StS winners McCarthy and trainer Nifty Norman paired to produce the fastest Stallion Series winner, the Captaintreacherous miss Marloe Hanover, who used track geometry from the rail and fronted her field throughout, winning in 1:50.4 with a back half in :55. Marloe Hanover, now a career winner of $346,259, is owned by Pinske Stables, David Hoese, and Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky.
Trainer Norman’s other victorious charge was the Somebeachsomewhere miss Annabelle Hanover, who was moved to the lead in front of the stands by driver Dexter Dunn and won unthreatened in 1:52 while boosting her earnings to $159,903, with Lawrence Means and Curly Tall Curly Small partnering with double StS winner Pinske Stables.
Hall of Fame driver David Miller got the 12,999th driving win of his career when he guided the Sweet Lou filly Blazin Grace to a new mark of 1:51.4 after racing on the lead throughout for trainer Brian Brown and the ownership of Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Rich Lombardo Racing LLC, and L & H Management Services. Miller will be back in action Friday at Harrah’s Philly, where the milestone #13,000 will hopefully not elude him for very long.
The quick unofficial reckoning of the Top Ten in the Stallion Series reads: Going Gone Hanover and The Bethinator (tied), Alexa Skye, Martinique Beach, Dream Dancing and Keystone Eureka (tied), Cowgirl Lilly, Run Deo Run, Wayside, and a three-way tie for tenth among Anthem, Ashtini, and Enduring Hope. (How tight is this division? Three of Friday’s winners, and all five second-place finishers, are NOT in the list above!)