WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 25, 2013 — Completing a near-perfect freshman season, Nitro Nittany rolled to a 7-1/2-length victory in the fastest division of Wednesday’s Keystone Classic at The Meadows. The $120,000 event for 2-year-old filly trotters was conducted over four divisions, with Cantabs Fortune, Noon Tea Party and Juniata Hanover taking the other splits.
Nitro Nittany won five of six starts, with the only blemish a 1/2-length loss in a Pennsylvania Stallion Series stake, but she bounced back to capture the PA Stallions championship. Trainer/driver Jim Raymer, who owns the daughter of Explosive Matter-Miss Nittany as part of Harbor Racing Stable, acknowledged that he kept her schedule softer than she might have been able to handle.
“You have to keep after her, being as sizable as she is,” Raymer said. “She gets sore. Two weeks between starts worked out well for her. We probably should look at that for all Standardbreds. Thoroughbreds aren’t all that wrong when they take 30 days to race a horse back.
“She has all the racing credentials, but if you put her in where they go 1:53 or 1:54, she’ll go with them, but I’m not sure she’ll go there the next week. They’re fit athletes. We don’t have to race them every week to make them fit. If you do, you’re not doing your job as a trainer.”
In the Keystone Classic, Nitro Nittany powered to the lead from post 6 and won in 1:56.2, with plenty left in the tank. Broadway Socks and Silent Opera K were second and third, respectively.
Juniata Hanover enjoyed a pocket trip behind Harley Momma but was all out to get by her game rival in the stretch. She finally prevailed by 1/2 length in a career-best 1:57.3.
“She’s a fighter, and she loves to track a horse down,” said winning driver Dave Palone. “I knew that if I could stay tight off the turn, she’d probably run Harley Momma down. She has a great attitude. She’s the full package.”
Ron Burke trains Juniata Hanover, a daughter of Cantab Hall-Justgotafeeling, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Michelle Yanek and Keith Pippi.
Cantabs Fortune overcame injuries earlier in the season and now has won three straight for Rick Zeron, who drives and trains the daughter of Cantab Hall-Incredible Fortune — a $22,000 yearling acquisition — for Rick Zeron Stables, Paul Marion and Ferme Rico Limitee.
“We had some issues with her when we brought her down from Canada, but we got those taken care of, and she’s been going uphill ever since,” Zeron said. “She was a little hot when I first started with her, but now she’s calmed down. She’ll be a real nice filly at 3. I’m comfortable for next year.”
In the Keystone Classic, she quarter-poled to the lead and prevailed in 1:57.1, 2 lengths better than Ruby. Sally Savannah earned show. Zeron said the ownership team will consider Cantabs Fortune for the Breeders Crown.
Palone and Eric Ledford each drove three winners on the 15-race card.
Stake racing at The Meadows resumes Friday with a $120,000 (est.) Keystone Classic for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters. First post is 12:55 PM.