A pair of American National Stakes shared top billing on Wednesday, Sept. 19th as freshmen trotters stepped into the harness racing spotlight at Balmoral Park. A field of eight fillies were sent postward in the first tussle as they slugged it out for a purse of $70,000.
After dominating the state-bred division here in Illinois with six wins and a second in her first seven starts James Bafia, Eugene White and Sam Daddono’s Trot Fudge Sundae handled the hike up to open company as she posted a hard fought wire to wire victory by a neck in 1:58.3.
Zipped right to the front by driver Dave Magee the bay daughter of-What A Joy charged through splits of 28.4, 56.4 & 1:26.3 as she led a three-horse breakaway with entrymate Bull Spreader (Marcus Miller) and Little Ms Chrissy (Robert Taylor).
“She was pretty charged up out there tonight,” said Magee. “I guess with not racing for three weeks and then being away from her home base she got a little worked up once the wings of the gate folded.”
After leading by open lengths throughout the Dirk Simpson trainee turned for home with a three-length advantage. Gamely fighting off a 20mph headwind and the late charge of Little Ms Chrissy a tough as nails Trot Fudge Sundae dug in late to post her seventh consecutive win. Bull Spreader was two-lengths back in third.
“When that wind hit us in the face I started to get a little worried,” said a relieved Magee. “I knew Bobby (Taylor) had been sitting inside covered up and that he was going to be coming after us. She was getting to us pretty quickly but I think that wind kind of slowed her down just enough near the wire for my filly to tough it out and get the win.
With the victory Trot Fudge Sundae now boasts career earnings of $110,000.
A field of nine diagonally gaited colts lined up behind the gate to contest a $76,500 American National two races later and when the smoke cleared from this battle is was Dan & Jo Anne Shetler’s Longwell snatching victory from the jaws of defeat as he rallied from seventh at the top of the stretch to win by a half-length in 1:58.3 for driver Brian Carpenter.
Getting away fifth as Powerful Poe (Todd Warren) and Semper Fit battled through splits of 29.0, 57.1 & 1:27.3 Carpenter was content to save ground at the pylons throughout the mile.
“Danny told me just don’t go busting out of there with him because it was only his third career,” said Carpenter. “They were going at it pretty good up front and we were saving all the ground and staying fresh so even though we didn’t have a place to go at the time I still thought we’d be a factor if I could shake loose.”
Shuffled all the way to seventh at the top of the lane, horses began to fan out for the stretch giving Carpenter a straight shot up the pylons and into the passing lane.
“I could see a couple of those ones up front were getting pretty tired going into that wind and my colt was still ready to roll,” said Carpenter. “I was just hoping that one of those tired ones up toward the front didn’t drift down into the passing lane and take our spot.”
Flying up the inside the good looking son of-Minibar picked off one rival after another eventually cruising by them all for his maiden breaking victory. Semper Fit held on for second while N Lindy (Frank Antonacci) finished third.
After the win Carpenter explained how he wound up with drive after Shetler piloted the colt to a fourth place finish in the elimination last week.
“I watched his race last week and Danny kind of drove him like a “green-horse” but you could see the amount of talent he had. He saved all the ground with him that night and then was trotting strong at the wire. I happened to be walking past him in the paddock after that and asked him if I could drive the horse in the final and he said that he might not be able to make it for tonight’s race and sure enough he called this week and asked if I could drive him. It’s great when something like that works out. This is going to be very nice trotter once he gets it all figured out.”
by Tom KELLEY