Day At The Track

Sire Stakes picture clear as mud

06:52 PM 14 Aug 2018 NZST
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Beautiful Sin, harness racing
Muscle Hill filly Beautiful Sin
Curtis Salonick Photo

WILKES-BARRE PA - It was hoped that the fourth and final preliminary leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies, held on Monday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, might clear up the picture of the division's pecking order ahead of the September 1 harness racing Championship at The Meadows, but instead the overall view is now as clear as the muddy red clay over which the babies raced.

In what sense? Well, the most prelims won by any filly was two. None of the winners on Monday had won before in the Sire Stakes - one had not even raced in them previously, and one had yet to stay flat in the PaSS - and none of Monday's three visitors to Victory Lane are within the top ten in the pointstandings, as a total of 13 fillies posted at least one triumph in the prelims.

First to go over the sloppy course Monday was the Donato Hanover filly Jezzy's Legacy, who made her initial appearance on the tote board after a race a 1:57.3 victory. Jezzy's Legacy made the front for driver George Napolitano Jr., then yielded to second choice Hanovers Best to sit in the two-hole as that one and race favorite Sonnet Grace (one of the double winners) hooked up nearing the ¾ and through the turn.

Sonnet Grace had been gaining steadily, but nearing the homestretch she suddenly bore about 3¼-wide, and she could not make up the crucial lost ground. That left the race to the pacesetter and the pocketsitter, and Jezzy's Legacy gained into the 28.1 last quarter to win by a length, with Sonnet Grace rallying to be another neck back on the money. Jezzy's Legacy is trained by Ray Schnittker, who is also co-owner with Little E LLC, Steven Arnold, and Hall of Fame ballot nominee Ted Gewertz.

The second division saw The Ice Dutchess, in her initial Sire Stakes race, sent off at odds-on despite the outermost post off her win in the Doherty Final, but she made a break vying for the lead nearing the 1/8. 42-1 shot Bushy Tails emerged in front early but readily surrendered the lead to the Muscle Hill filly Swizzle Sticks, who set the pace. In the lane the pocketed longshot made a good charge at the leader, but Swizzle Sticks prevailed by a half-length while taking a maiden mark of 1:57.2. Brian Sears, handling his fourth winner of the night, had the sulky duty for trainer Jim Campbell and owner Jeffrey Snyder.

There were a pair of previous PaSS winners in the third division in Magical Beliefs and Antonia, but the role of favorite went to the Muscle Hill filly Beautiful Sin, photoed out in the Doherty, but able to make her Sire Stakes bow successful in the quickest time of 1:56.3, saving the chalk's dignity somewhat in the stakes events. Magical Beliefs had moved early to command, with Beautiful Sin taking the first-over route under the guidance of Yannick Gingras, and the issue was in question until midstretch, where Beautiful Sin still had another gear left and drew away by 3¼ lengths; second choice Antonia fell victim to a break. Beautiful Sin is trained by Jimmy Takter for the S R F Stable.

The Harness Bureau of the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission is the official keeper of PA-sired competition points, but an unofficial tally of the standings after the races yielded these ten as the leading pointwinners: 1. Magical Beliefs, 2. Sonnet Grace, 3. Ma Was Right, 4. Personal Paradise, 5. Rush Lane, 6. (tie) Antonia, Fate Smiled, and Windy Corner, 9. (tie) Daria P and Hanovers Best. There is of course the possibility that one or more of the top horses may not declare in for the Championship, and the horses "on the bubble" do have the prospect of a consolation race at The Meadows if enough fillies declare in.

On the night Brian Sears drove five winners and George Nap drove four.

Tuesday at Pocono is the last Stallion Series preliminary, to be conducted over seven divisions. And you may think that this Sire Stakes division is hard to sort out ...

PHHA / Pocono

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