Verbal Assault breaks maiden in PA Stallions Series

12:04 AM 08 Jun 2014 NZST
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Verbal Assault, harness racing
Verbal Assault and driver Aaron Merriman

WASHINGTON, PA, Saturday, June 7, 2014 -- A loser in all seven of his previous starts, Verbal Assault broke his maiden in style Friday at The Meadows, pulling off a 16-1 upset in a $100,000 Pennsylvania Stallions Series stake for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers.

The event was contested over five divisions, with Brioni, Avalanche Hanover, Invictus Hanover and Status Quo taking the other splits. Dave Palone and trainer Ron Burke teamed for two victories in the stake (Invictus Hanover, Status Quo) while Aaron Merriman also enjoyed a stake double (Verbal Assault, Avalanche Hanover).

Verbal Assault wasn't sold as a yearling due to a chip in his coffin joint and was instead entrusted to the care of trainer Sam Beegle. Beegle and his partner, Daniel Courtemanche, liked the son of Well Said-Well Read so much they purchased him privately, only to see his career get off to a rocky beginning.

"He's had all bad luck -- nothing good's happened," Beegle said. "Two weeks ago, a brand new hopple hanger broke, dropped, and he stepped out of the hopple. Nothing has gone right until today. He has a lot of upside."

On Friday, he followed cover to the lead and held off the late brush of Barbarian by a head in 1:52.4. Bristol Bay was third.

Avalanche Hanover moved first over down the backside, clearing before the three-quarters and scoring in 1:52, 2-1/4 lengths better than Dragon's Successor. Stone Cold Shark earned show.

"He looked real good on paper, so I just let him do his thing," Merriman said. "He definitely has speed, though he was a little bit green when he got away from them. He needs another second-and-a-half, and you never know what he can race with."

Ron Potter trains the Somebeachsomewhere-Anadarko Hanover gelding for Clyde Perfect.

Invictus Hanover, who had endured a series of lousy post positions, hustled to the pocket from post 5 and brushed late to down 39-1 bomb Ivan Bob by a length in 1:53.2, with Jackson Brady third.

"He's always been a beautiful horse to drive," Palone said of the Yankee Cruiser-I Sparkle gelding. "From the word go, he's always been a pleasure. He's probably a step below the top ones, but he's a fun horse that you look forward to driving. Having been over the track a few times gives him a big advantage."

Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Keith Pippi and Michelle Yanek campaign Invictus Hanover, a Hanover Adios Yearling Sale acquisition whose winnings left him $62 short of $100,000 for his career.

In the $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace, Sam Hill extended his winning streak to four in most improbable fashion, parked the entire mile yet prevailing in 1:50.3. Twilight Bonfire was second, a length in arrears, with Lollipop Kid third. Greg Wright, Jr. piloted the 8-year-old Artsplace-Apple Of My Eye gelding, who now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $283,389, for trainer John Sullivan and owner Don Tiger.

Saturday's Belmont Day card at The Meadows features the Bye Bye Bird, a $199,000 PA Sires Stake for sophomore colt and gelding pacers. First post is 11:25 AM.

by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

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