Day At The Track

$313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Pace eliminations

01:22 PM 01 May 2016 NZST
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Darlinonthebeach I Said Diamonds Call Me Queen Be
The victorious Darlinonthebeach
Curtis Salonick Photo
The Well Said filly I Said Diamonds
Curtis Salonick Photo
The Somebeachsomewhere filly Call Me Queen Be
Curtis Salonick Photo
Three $20,000 eliminations for next Saturday evening's inaugural $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Pace for PA-sired harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies were held Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the pocket the racing position to be in, as all three winners rallied from the two-hole - one outside, the other two inside up the famed "Pocono Pike."
 
In the first elimination, Pure Country, undefeated in 10 starts at two and national divisional champion, fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, as in a 54.3 sprint home she couldn't go enough in her seasonal bow and had to settle for third, and a position in the Miss Pennsylvania, behind the victorious Darlinonthebeach, a 1:50.4 winner, and Pocono Pike-shooting second-place finisher Newborn Sassy.
 
Driver David Miller sent the Somebeachsomewhere filly Darlinonthebeach directly to the front, ceding the lead at the 26.3 quarter to the 50-cent favorite Pure Country, with Newport Sassy sitting third. Pure Country got a breather into the second quarter headwind and hit the half in 56.1, picking up the tempo to reach the ¾ pole in 1:23.3.
 
Turning for home Miller pulled Darlinonthebeach (second choice at 2-1) outside and sailed right on by, with Miller sitting chilly in the bike. Newport Sassy came up the Pike to grab second, a length behind the winner and a neck ahead of Pure Country. Nancy Johansson had the winning filly ready for a 1:51.3 seasonal bow victory here, and now the fast miss is 2 for 2 in 2016 and possessor of a new speed badge for owner/breeder White Birch Farm.
 
"She was really strong all through the mile," Miller noted after the race; when reminded that a win in the Miss Pennsylvania would put Miller in the $200 Million Club in driving earnings, joining John Campbell and Ron Pierce, Miller gave the thumbs up and said, "Something to aim for!"
 
The two-hole was again the place to be in the second Miss Pennsylvania elimination, as the Well Said filly I Said Diamonds, parked to the 26.1 quarter for the top then yielding to sit behind Sail To The Beach through 54.2 and 1:22.3 middle splits, used the inside route to get the decision in a personal best of 1:51. I Said Please, uncovered from late backstretch, stayed game for second, a length back and completing the "I Said" Exacta, with Sail To The Beach hanging in for third, another half-length behind the victorious 3-5 favorite.
 
Matt Kakaley handled the sulky duties for Little Bapa LLC and trainer Matias Ruiz, who got the filly to train in the offseason and enjoyed victory with her at first asking. "She is by far the best horse I have ever trained," noted Ruiz after the race with a smile. "She was good last year, and she's a little bigger, a little stronger this year."
 
Driver Scott Zeron watched the first two elims and settled on a winning strategy in the third elim, sailing up the Pocono Pike to an easy 2 ¼-length triumph in 1:51.3 with the Somebeachsomewhere filly Call Me Queen Be, an even-money choice in her first start of the year. Zeron and the "Queen" parked main rival Ivy League to a 26.1 opener, and even when the pacesetter got a breather to the 56 half, Zeron was not worried: "This filly has great speed, and can do anything on the racetrack," he said after the race.
 
And sure enough, after a 1:23.3 ¾, Call Me Queen Be waited for the inside lane to open, then darted through with lightning quickness to go by with ease; Save The Treasure was along from third-inside position to get second, 1½ lengths ahead of Ivy League, who held for third. Ross Croghan trains the winner, who also took a new mark, for the Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Dana Parham.
 
These top three fillies for each division will return for the Miss Pennsylvania Championship during the evening card of a Kentucky Derby doubleheader next Saturday at The Downs. David Miller has the only driving decision to make, as he guided Darlinonthebeach and Ivy League; Ivy League's trainer Jimmy Takter, who also handles Pure Country, was the only conditioner to land two in the rich event.
 
Pocono / PHHA
 
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