Day At The Track

Captain Crunch sizzles to win season debut

03:35 PM 20 May 2019 NZST
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Captain Crunch,Harness racing
Captain Crunch
Curtis Salonick photo

WILKES-BARRE PA - Captain Crunch, last year's two-year-old champion, had people asking "What's he going to do when he gets tighter?" after taking his 2019 debut by an effortless 1¾ lengths in a harness racing division of the second preliminary of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts Sunday at Mohegan Sun Pocono, negotiating a sloppy track in an amazing 1:49.1, last quarter :26.

2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Proof left hard from an outer post to clear to the lead just after the :27 quarter, with Scott Zeron already having given the word to Captain Crunch and the Captaintreacherous colt powering right to the lead before reaching the half in :55.2. Southwind Ozzi, a first-round PaSS winner, made a bold move from fifth to challenge the leader towards the 1:23.1 three-quarters, but then, without a race in 145 days, over off going, Captain Crunch charged home with the powerhouse :26 blitz, with Zeron mostly an interested passenger. Southwind Ozzi, the second choice, held extremely well in second, a length in front of third choice Proof, who also stayed on nicely after the early usage.

Though some people have been known to complain about soggy cereal, Captain Crunch has no apparent aversion to moisture, having won the Breeders Crown (here) and the Governor's Cup on sloppy ovals, and now posting this off-track victory, which equaled his lifetime mark and is the fastest mile of the young season by a three-year-old on any size of oval. Nancy Johansson trains the divisional favorite and winner of $645,322 for 3 Brothers Stable, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms.

The major challenger to Captain Crunch may emerge to be Workin Ona Mystery, another Captaintreacherous colt who won his first five starts at two, then ended his season after having a horrible trip in his Breeders Crown elimination and not advancing. A 1:50.1 PaSS winner in his 2019 bow, Workin Ona Mystery traveled the sloppy Pocono oval in 1:49.3 to match his lifetime best.

Tim Tetrick reserved his colt in fourth as Love Me Some Lou needed most of the :26.4 quarter to make the top. Workin Ona Mystery quickly moved and worked his way to command, but then got a very hard challenge from 40-1 Volley Ball Beach, who recovered from an early miscue to race as a team with the winner to a :54.2 half and got a short backstretch lead before his bid ended just past the 1:21.4 three-quarters. Despite the hard middle half, nobody could get near Workin Ona Mystery late, with Love Me Some Lou 4 3/4 lengths back at the wire. The Brian Brown trainee seems to have recovered well from his one hiccup for owners Diamond Creek Racing, Stambaugh Leeman Stable, Alan Keith, and Wingfield Brothers LLC.

The third division of Sire Stakes produced the only non-favorite in the Sires and Stallion Series events, as 6-5 "longshot" Wild Wild Western, a Western Ideal colt who was unraced at two but now has posted a 10-6-4-0 scorecard at three after equaling his mark of 1:52. Driver Mike Wilder used the popular frontstretch brush tactic with the Norm Parker trainee after the :26.3 opener, put up middle fractions of :56.1 and 1:24, then had to hold off two late threats to his left, 26-1 Caviart Stetson in second and Semi Tough in third, both a neck back; even money favorite Major Deception was another half-length behind the top trio. Wild Wild Western is owned by Jacobs Creek Racing LLC, Andrew Altobelli, and John Deters.

Fastest of the four Stallion Series winners was the Sweet Lou gelding Warrawee Unique, who got the evening off to a fast start by posting a lifetime best of 1:50.2 while doubling his lifetime win total and equaling his division's North American season's record. Warrawee Unique made two moves to control the pace for driver Yannick Gingras, then used identical :27.2 back quarters to win by 2¾ lengths for trainer Ron Burke and the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Crawford Farms, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby.

The Captaintreacherous colt Odds On Boca Raton had the biggest win margin in the Stallion Series competition, coming home first by four lengths in 1:51.1 for driver Andrew McCarthy while like the first winner lowering his mark and doubling his career win total. The Tony Alagna trainee looks to be seriously on the improve for Odds On Racing.

The only one of the seven stakes winners who did not beat or lower his mark was U S Captain, but since the Captaintreacherous colt won his first start of the year in 1:50.4 and was racing in sloppy going here, the 1:51.1 final clocking, including :55 - :27.2 back fractions, was quite acceptable. Andrew McCarthy and Tony Alagna combined again with a developing colt, as U S Captain was winless last year but here showed his mettle by withstanding a tough Stienams Beach by ¾ of a length for Brittany Farms LLC, Brad Grant, Joseph Barbera, and U S Captain Racing.

The first three Stallion Series winners were all six-figure yearlings with glittering maternal sides; the final StS winner, the Sweet Lou gelding Skip To My Lou, is the only one of the four to have two Stallion Series victories to his 2019 credit. Like every other stakes winner tonight, Skip To My Lou moved to the lead in quarter two, and driver Eric Goodell had things under control through the stretch, with Rockme Rollme good late but not really threatening the half-length winner, who reduced his mark as second to 1:51. Robert Cleary, he of the 40% victory rate, trains the sophomore who has four wins in his last six starts for Royal Wire Products Inc.

ATTRIBUTION - PHHA / Pocono

Jerry Connors

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