It started out with some hardball and ended with an easy victory as Sumatra and driver Brian Sears were able to lead from start to finish in capturing the first harness racing Grand Circuit event of the season for three-year-old colts and geldings, the $115,270 Dexter Cup Trot final Saturday at Freehold Raceway.
The race began with Sears taking full advantage of starting from the rail with Sumatra and they went right to the front. Driver George Brennan with King City also had ideas of getting good early position but when that did not happen he was forced to go after the race leaders and that is when the dogfight began.
Sears with Sumatra was not going to let Brennan and King City get by them past the opening quarter mile in :29 and past the half mile marker in :58. Then as they entered the backstretch the second time around, Ron Pierce, who was in fourth place on the outside with Sarcastic Man, tipped three-wide to challenege as King City was tired out and began to fade before the three-quarters in 1:28.
Sarcastic Man ended up parked three-wide around the final turn and had little trot left for the stretch drive as Sumatra pulled away from the pocket-sitting Derby (Jordon Stratton) to win with ease by nearly three open lengths in 1:57.4. Donator’s Wish (Ray Schnittker) was third.
“He was very good today,” said trainer Tom Fanning. “I was not that worried when I saw the George’s (Brennan) horse parked out. The fractions were not that fast early on to the half mile. I thought we had the fastest horse going into the race. I did not like having them first-over against us but was not uncomfortable with it. Brian (Sears) did a very good job of scoring him down and keeping him quiet. That is a big key for this horse. He needs to keep his composure before the start of the race.”
It was the second start and first win of the season for Sumatra. The bay gelding by Muscles Yankee won five of eleven starts last year for owner Joseph Smith of Vero Beach, FL and trainer Tom Fanning. With the winner’s share of purse at $57,635 from the Dexter Cup, Sumatra now sports lifetime earnings of $168,000 and looks to be one of the top colts in North America currently. Sent off as the overwhelming 1/5 betting favorite, he paid just $2.60 to win.
By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com