Shuffled to fourth at the head of the stretch, Pantholops took advantage of two breakers, poured through the Lightning Lane and scored in a harness racing stake-record 1:54.3 Friday at The Meadows in a division of a Keystone Classic.
The $79,200 event for 3-year-old trotting fillies was conducted over three divisions, with Caitrin Hall and Decolletage taking the other splits.
Pantholops left alertly for Aaron Merriman yet found herself locked in when Cashmere N Caviar persevered with a first-over move. But when Cashmere N Caviar and Love U Overandover broke stride in mid-stretch, Pantholops roared past to edge Beatgoeson Hanover, the 1-5 favorite, by a neck. Lyrical Lady closed well for third.
“She didn’t switch gears right away,” Merriman said, “and I was kind of kicking myself for not pulling first over. But she responded well. She’s a different horse than she was earlier in the year. You can tell she’s a seasoned racehorse.”
The time, achieved over a “good” surface, knocked a tick from the stakes record established last year by Action-Broadway. Jonas Czernyson trains Pantholops, a daughter of-Klipspringer who has won three of her last four starts, for Menhammar Stuteri.
Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion Caitrin Hall continued to mow down her Keystone State competition, registering a facile front-end victory in 1:55.4 for Eric Ledford. The pocket-sitting Mynah Hanover was 3-1/2 lengths back in second, with Im A Centerfold third.
“It was a pretty easy win for her,” Ledford said. “It looked like she laid over them so much I didn’t want to take any chances. I knew she would throw in a lot of steps but not break, so I could drive on her.”
The daughter of-CR Oh Suzanna now has banked $338,081 for trainer Tony Alagna and owner Patrick Graham.
Decolletage also made it look easy on the front, defeating Quantum Glidingby by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:55.4.
“I just wanted to seat everybody up on the front end, and if someone came, that was fine with me,” said winning driver Dave Palone. “When they didn’t, I just hit the brakes, walked her around there, and she got home good.”
Fred Grant conditions the daughter of-Fun At Parties for owner/breeder Russell Williams.
Hambletonian Oaks winner Bold And Fresh finished third in the race, beaten 2-1/2 lengths, a marked improvement from the breaks in her two other post-Oaks appearances. That encouraged trainer Doug Miller to green-light her for upcoming engagements at the Red mile.
“I was happy with that,” Miller said. “She raced in the Oaks the first week in August, and she hadn’t had a mile better than 1:59 since then. Under the circumstances, I was quite pleased with her.”
The action-packed card also featured two $22,500 Preferred Handicap events. In the Preferred Handicap Trot, Sir Caviar cruised to victory for Brian Zendt in his customary front-end fashion in 1:54, vaulting over $300,000 in career earnings. In the Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, Astreas Notice and David Miller made a quarter-pole stand up, prevailing in 1:52.2.