Hammered down to 1-9, Pennsylvania harness racing champion Sand Violent Blu needed every bit of her talent and determination to eke out a victory Friday in a division of a $92,998 Keystone Classic at The Meadows.
The stake for 2-year-old filly trotters was conducted over three divisions, with Delicious and Sculpted Vanity taking the other splits.
Sand Violent Blu won the PA Sires Stakes final in a sparkling 1:54.3 and appeared to be well on the way to her fourth straight win when she made a quarter-pole move to the lead. She tired late on the sloppy surface but responded to Brett Miller’s urging to hold off the fast-charging End Of Innocence by 3/4 lengths in 1:59.2. Blue Yonder was third.
“She wasn’t sharp tonight,” said winning trainer Tye Loy. “When I trained her, she didn’t seem like herself. It wasn’t that she wasn’t fast enough, she just wasn’t herself. She labored a little bit.”
Loy said he would examine the filly and consult with owner Bill Sanders to determine if the daughter of-Sand Lavender, who vaulted over $200,000 in earnings, will make her scheduled Grand Circuit engagement at the Red Mile next week.
Delicious made breaks in each of her three most recent starts, but she was flat and fast for wily driver Dick Stillings, coming first over to down Cantab Cabela by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:59.4. Upfront Carol rallied for show. Ron Gurfein trains the daughter of-Ipsara LB for Patrick Quaid.
“Ronnie made a couple rigging changes, and she never fought anything,” Stillings said. “I just tried to keep her out of trouble. She was really perfect.”
Sculpted Vanity had been racing off the trot recently, but she roared to the front for Aaron Merriman and registered a facile 5-3/4-length victory in 1:59.3 over the pocket-sitting Cupcake Hanover, with Barefoot Brook third. Linda Toscano trains the daughter of-In To Me for Martin Sternberg and Alvin Katz.
“Linda switched her back to a blind bridle and earplugs today,” said Merriman, who drove four winners on the 16-race card. “They’d been taking her off the gate to teach her to race from behind, and she was too quiet. Today she was full of herself, rearing up in the paddock, and she drove like a Cadillac.”
In the $22,500 Preferred Handicap Trot, Sir Caviar again overpowered the field to score his 21st victory over the past two seasons for Brian Zendt and trainer Leslie Zendt, who owns the 5-year-old SJ’s Caviar-Sierra Flower K gelding with Bill Zendt. Springboard was second, a length back, with Sing Jesse Sing third. The winning time was 1:55.4.