Saturday’s $150,000 American National Stake for three-year-old trotting colts figured to be a rematch of this year’s Hambletonian and it turned out to be just that.
Only this time the results were reversed as Jack & Peggy Hood, Bill Wright & Mystical Marker Farmsmowed down the pace setting Vivid Photo to win by 1 ½ lengths in 1:54.
Given patient handling by driver Andy Miller,was ducked to last from the outside starting spot in this field of six. Both Garth Vader (Homer Hochstetler) And Vivid Photo (Roger Hammer) stormed away from the gate and these two were separated by just as head as Vivid Photo made the front in 28.2.
The field was strung out down the backstretch as Vivid Photo continued to roll along with a full head of steam. Trotting away to a 4 ½ length advantage over Garth Vader and Self Possesion (Marcus Johannson) the Hambletonian winner reached the half-mile mark in a 56.1. At this pointwas beginning to get into gear and had moved up to fourth, 8 ½ lengths off the leader. “I knew we still had a lot of ground to make up at that point but I also knew I sitting behind a ton of horse,” said winning driver Andy Miller
Moving around the far turn Vivid Photo continued to maintain a four length advantage. Garth Vader was having a tough time keeping up along the pylons at that point as a grindingcontinued to cut into the deficit while picking off horses while first over. “He really started to get rolling around the final turn and Roger was clearly in my sights as we turned for home,” explained Miller.
Just as they had three weeks ago in the Hambletonian these two great sophomores hooked up in another exciting stretch duel. With Vivid Photo clinging tenaciously to the leadcontinued to whittle away at the deficit. “You never know if you are going to be able to get by a horse like Vivid Photo by I was pretty confident by the time we hit the eighth pole,” said a beaming Miller.
That confidence was rewarded asflew by the pace setter with a 28.1 final split avenging his heartbreaking loss in the Hambo. Vivid Photo made a late break after had gone by him but still managed to hold on for second while Worship (Ron Marsh) finished third, 3 ¾ lengths behind the winner.
In a jubilant winner’s circle trainer Erv Miller was beaming about his charge. “He just wasn’t himself in the Hambletonian,” he said. “Since we got him home (Springfield) he’s been acting like his old self and he was very sharp in this race.” The son of SJ’S Photo will be skipping the World Trotting Derby next week and figures to make his next big start north of the border. “I’m not a big fan of multiple heat racing so we’re going to skip DuQuoin and aim for the Canadian Trotting Classic,” said the proud conditioner.
The win was the eighth in 12 starts this year forwho now boasts seasonal earnings of $886,801. A close second choice in the wagering returned $3.80, $2.10 & 2.10.