Winless at 2, All Star Player showed off her new and improved harness racing form on Wednesday (June 6) at The Meadows when she captured a Pennsylvania Stallion Series division in a stake-record 1:53.1.
The $100,000 event for 3-year-old filly pacers was contested over five divisions, with Nuclear Photo, Terror To Cam, Magic Starlight and Nucular Enemy taking the other $20,000 splits.
All Star Player was no better than third in nine 2011 outings, and trainer L. David Emanuel II never was able to pinpoint her problem.
“She started out real well at 2,” he said. “But then, I don’t know whether she got a virus or hit the wall as sometimes happens to big fillies, but she tailed off. So we decided to turn her out. She came back a different horse. She went from not being able to finish a mile to pacing last quarters in 28.”
She flashed her speed and power Wednesday as she sat in the pocket for Mike Wilder behind McLovely, then roared by in the lane to down that rival by 1-1/4 lengths. Cruzin Tothe Dance was third. The time shaved a tick from the stake record established earlier in the card by Nuclear Photo.
Dean Casady owns the daughter of-Play Ball, who will be pointed to the Reynolds at the Meadowlands.
Nuclear Photo’s stake mark may have been fleeting, but she performed impressively off a layoff of more than six weeks, bursting to the lead in a demanding 26.4 opening panel for Tony Hall before settling into the pocket. She blew by Campanile late and defeated her by 2-1/4 lengths, with Awesome G third.
“They told me she’d be ready for however I wanted to race her,” Hall said. “So I just kind of went for it, and it worked out. She actually had a little more than I thought after that first quarter.”
Joe Offutt trains Nuclear Photo, a homebred daughter of-Vabredpawinner, and owns with Samuel Stoltzfus.
Terror To Cam unleashed a sustained uncovered bid but nearly bolted around the final turn before Eric Ledford could straighten her.
“She pulled up and actually went about four wide,” Ledford said. “I never gave her any chance of winning from there. It took me forever to get her back started. Maybe it was one of those fluke things because she was first over and clearing. She is a temperamental thing — she kicks a little bit on the track.”
Terror To Cam had enough to prevail in 1:54.2, a neck better than My QP Doll, while Belluga Babe completed the trifecta. Jason Robinson trains the daughter of- Connection, who won her second straight stallion series split, for Ameer Najor and Yousif Yousif.
In the $22,500 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot, JC Mik Mac Jillio used a second-over trip to score in 1:55.1, matching her career best, for Dan Charlino, Robinson and owner Robert Main. Anastasia Whinnie rallied from last for second, with Firstclassprincess third.
Ledford and Wilder each drove three winners on the 16-race card. Dave Palone’s career win total remains at 15,126 after a rare shutout in his pursuit of Herve Filion’s North American record of 15,180.
Live racing resumes Friday at The Meadows with three divisions of the $278,886 Adios Betty, a Pennsylvania Sires Stake for sophomore filly pacers. First post is 6:55 PM.
by Evan PATTAK