Faced with an 8-length deficit and a loose leader, I Like Dreamin fastened his chinstrap and powered to victory in a harness racing stakes-record 1: 49.1 in a division of Friday's Keystone Classic at The Meadows.
The $105,000 event for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers was contested over three divisions, with EZ Noah and Special Blend taking the other splits. Eric Ledford enjoyed a stake double with I Like Dreamin and EZ Noah.
With State Treasurer blazing three-quarters in a wicked 1:19.4, I Like Dreamin picked up the first-over cover of Easy Again and nailed that rival by 3/4 lengths. State Treasurer saved show. The time bettered the previous stake mark of 1:50.2 established by Roddy’s Bags Again in 2005.
“I didn’t think we could catch up,” said Sam DePinto, who trains the homebred son of-I’m Not Dreamin for Lomangino Standardbreds and Leo Lomangino, Sr. “I was just hoping for a decent check at that point. He likes to finish up. He loves catching horses.”
He said I Like Dreamin would be pointed to the Tattersalls at The Red Mile and the Breeders Crown thereafter.
EZ Noah made the lead with a quarter-pole move, then held off the Lightning Lane charge of Wahine to triumph by a head in a career-best 1:50. Take It Back Terry earned show.
“I planned on going to the front and getting cover, but the cover didn’t come with me,” Ledford said. “He acted like he was half dead around the bottom turn, but as soon as Wahine got up to him, he took off.”
Special Blend saved ground before brushing through the Lightning Lane and scoring in 1:51.2, a lifetime mark, for Brett Miller, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Lastingart Hanover was second, 1-1/4 lengths back, with Strother a rallying third.
“The race went completely different than I thought it would,” Miller said of the victory by Special Blend, a-Tallulah Belle gelding. “I thought I would be following but not Whirl Monroe, who left out of there really good and was doing it easy. I wasn’t so sure about sitting in the two hole behind him, but he was doing it so easy I went ahead and took my chance. We got lucky and he carried us far enough.”
In the $22,500 Preferred Handicap Trot, 1-1 favoritequarter-poled to the front but faced a stiff late challenge from Cantab Lindy before prevailing by a neck in 1:53.4. Jessesjo completed the ticket. Dick Stillings piloted the 6-year-old son of -Winning Missbrenda, who now boasts $1,101,474 in career earnings, for owner/breeder Bob Key.
Ledford drove five winners and Miller four on the 16-race card.
by Evan PATTAK