Day At The Track

Millers + Trotting Hopples = Stallion Series success

08:58 PM 22 Aug 2017 NZST
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Keystone Apache The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.jpg
Keystone Apache breaking his maiden in 1:56.3, fastest of all divisions
Curtis Salonick Photo
The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA -- Sometime shortly after July 12, either Andy or Julie Miller must have said that they were going to the harness racing  tack shop to get a set of trotting hopples. Their fellow Illinois Miller, Erv, must have said, "Hey, get me a set, too."

Team Orange Crush must have liked what their action accomplished, so sometime shortly after July 20, they got two more sets.

An online search showed that trotting hopples may average out in the $250 range. So their $750 investment helped Andy and July Miller won $25000 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Monday night. It would have been $30000, except Erv Miller's $250 investment resulted in a $10000 return for a win and relegated the Orange Crush horse to second, making a $5000 difference.

The fourth and final preliminary in the Pennsylvania Stallion Series for two-year-old trotting colts, raced over seven divisions Monday night at The Downs, was a showcase for adding the piece of equipment as a possible means to steady out balky babies. (Old-time horsemen, we apologize.)

In the race where the Teams Miller finished 1-2, the Explosive Matter-Found An Angel colt Keystone Apache quarter-moved and dictated a fast tempo on a "sloppy" track, then resisted a late bid from favored Im Your Captain, the early leader, by a length while breaking his maiden in 1:56.3, fastest of all divisions. Marcus Miller drove for trainer/father Erv and the ownership of the Ervin Miller Stable Inc. and Tangie Massey.

Im Your Captain had won two straight Stallion Series events since the Orange Crush added the hopples; they also had the two re-equipped winners, who are now both two-for-two in Stallion Series contests. The first was the Cantab Hall-Mississippi Beauty gelding Mississippi Storm, who was victorious in 1:57.4 by a half-length over Meadowbranch Ricky for the Andy Miller Stable Inc. and Willow Oak Ranch. Mississippi Storm won his first StS race, then broke in his second, then added the hopples and is perfect in them in a pair of outings.

The other 2-for-2-plus-hopples horse for Andy and Julie is the appropriately-named Make It A Double, who has taken to his new equipment quite nicely, the Donato Hanover-Dodger Blues gelding here winning by two lengths in 1:58.1 for Jason and Douglas Allen in partnership with their driver's Andy Miller Stable Inc. Mississippi Storm and Make It A Double won consecutive divisions, which made Make It A Double's name even more fitting.

Owner/trainer D. R. Ackerman must have made the same trip to the tack shop about a week before the Illinois Miller clans, as after opening his career with a miscue, his Canaletto Hanover has stayed flat in five straight starts since adding the trotting hopples, including all three of the Stallion Series legs in which he competed. Like all the other winners on the night, the Andover Hall-Charlotte Alber gelding found the found end the place to be, as he reported home in 1:57.3, 2 3/4 lengths to the good to give his sire two credits in the stakes. With three StS wins, Canaletto Hanover joined Mississippi Storm, as noted a winner on the card, and Hockey Hanover, the winningest baby trotter in North America with eight, who after winning his first three StS races tried Sires horses the previous night and lost by a nose.

Driver Tyler Buter started off the busy stakes night by taking the first two divisions. The Andover Hall-Born To Love colt Johny Victory (who has had hopples throughout his career) broke his maiden in his second lifetime start, winning in 1:59 by the night's largest margin, 6¾ lengths, for trainer John Butenschoen and owners William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, and Eugene Schick. 18 minutes later Buter was parading back the Muscle Massive-Celebrity Sweedie gelding I Know My Rights, who has never worn hopples and who withstood Naturalle Muscle by a neck in 1:59.1 for his second straight Stallion Series win. Todd Buter trains the developing baby for the ownership combine of the driver, Lynette Buter, and Gene Oldford Farms LLC.

Explosive Matter also had a siring double in the stakes racing, completed by Rentier, who equaled his lifetime mark of 1:57.2 while winning by 2¾ lengths. The gelding, out of the mare Race Judicata, added this win to two previous seconds in the StS competition for driver Matt Kakaley and owner/trainer Austin Brubacker. (To complete the record, Rentier races hoppleless as well.)

The final pointstandings after this last preliminary has, as could be expected, quite a logjam at the top. Here is an unofficial list of the nine who have reserved places for their Championship event at The Meadows on Saturday, September 2, in pointstanding order: Mississippi Storm; I Know My Rights; Canaletto Hanover and Hockey Hanover tied (going 3-for-3 in the prelims got you a DH3 in the standings); I Know My Rights and Stonebridge Gamble tied; Meadowbranch Ricky; Rentier; and Make It A Double. Keystone Apache is AE1 and Possess The Stone is AE2 if there are defections; then there are four more within three points of the AE positioning!

PHHA / Pocono

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