By Garnet Barnsdale
Photo by New Image Media
Sensational two-year-old pacing filly L A Delight easily reeled off her ninth straight win and last year’s Metro stakes winner Artspeak paced a lifetime best mile to highlight a night or stakes-filled action at Mohawk Racetrack last night.
L A Delight in a league of her own in the Champlain
It’s not often you see a horse 1/5 in the morning line, but the oddsmaker got it right when assessing L A Delight’s chances in the $241,000 Champlain Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack last night.
There were no anxious moments for this sensational Bettors Delight filly as she easily ran her win streak to nine straight with a facile 5-length win in 1:52 1/5. Driver Randy Waples steered L A Delight to the lead taking over from unbeaten Good Will Hanover before the 1/2 in 55 2/5 which was pretty quick on this cool night.
From there it was a cakewalk as L A Delight and Waples seemed to open up their lead with little effort on their overmatched foes. Together, they stopped the teletimer in 1:52 1/5 as wrapped up winners, their time only 1/5 of a second slower than the rookie colts went in their Champlain dash.
Winning trainer Bob McIntosh was obviously pleased with his filly’s effort. “She’s just getting more professional every week,” the Hall of Famer observed. “I just feel lucky to have her. When you breed her and she turns out like this it’s just extra special. She seems to be better every week.”
But McIntosh wasn’t this high on L A Delight at the start as she didn’t really stand out until she really got down to business. “All year long she never did a thing wrong but she was just one of the pack. Then all of a sudden we got her qualified and got her going and she was extra special. It’s a nice surprise.”
Early leader Good Will Hanover stuck around for second – 4 1/2 lengths behind the winner – in a good showing in her stakes debut. Ivy League was a further length back in third. The winner returned $2.30 to win and topped a $5.90 exacta.
L A Delight would likely be considered the early favorite for the Breeders Crown – had she been kept eligible. “In all my wisdom I didn’t put her in it,” McIntosh fretted. “I thought she was just an ordinary filly back in the winter.” This super filly is anything but ordinary in her trainer’s eyes – or anyone else that watches her race – when she does her thing on the racetrack now.
L A Delight has now won 9 of 10 starts and more than $520,000 for owners McIntosh, S X Stables and Al McIntosh Holdings.
Artspeak takes the Simcoe in a new life’s mark
Scott Zeron said that Artspeak “felt like his old self” in the post parade last night and he sure looked like it in mowing down the tough Reverend Hanover in the $224K Simcoe Stakes in a new life’s mark of 1:48 2/5.
“I knew he was ready to rock tonight,” Zeron said in the winners’ circle. “Tony did a great job prepping him for this race giving him a couple of weeks off then qualifying him in 50. Doing it off a first-up trip like that tonight and finishing the way he did; that was crazy”.
Neither Artspeak nor Reverend Hanover left particularly hard as Go Daddy Go and Lyons Again fought for the lead early through a 26 1/5 opening quarter, but soon Reverend Hanover was on the move as expected and he took the lead at the 1/2 in 53 2/5. Zeron moved Artspeak first-over past the 1/2 and the expected battle was on. Reverend Hanover – a winner last week here in a new life’s mark of 1:48 3/5 -marched on past the 3/4 mark in a swift 1:21 1/5 with last year’s Metro Pace winner in hot pursuit.
Reverend Hanover was game and entered the stretch with a short lead, but in the final 1/8th of a mile, last year’s Metro Pace winner had too much pace and drew away while pacing his last 1/4 in 27 1/5 to finish 2 1/4 lengths in front of Reverend Hanover. Split The House was another length back in 3rd.
Zeron clearly was impressed with Artspeak, “I have a lot of respect for Reverend,” he said. “To mow him down like that was big.” The winning driver also said that part of the reason that Artspeak hasn’t been as dominant this year may be that things stack up a bit different for him from a competition standpoint. “Last year he had bullet quick speed when other horses weren’t ready to do what he was capable of,” he remarked. “Last year it felt like a cakewalk…ya know; it was a matter of just keeping him well-behaved and he was much the best. This year we hit some top-caliber horses. WiggleIt seems like he’s an absolute machine. It seems like there’s no end to him.”
Artspeak served notice to his foes in the Simcoe that he’s still around and he’s a tough out as the Little Brown Jug fast approaches. He won for the 4th time in twelve 2015 starts and boosted his season’s earnings past the $500,000 mark for owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco and The Gym Partners.
The winner returned $4.80 as the second choice and the exacta with Reverend Hanover second paid $8.10.
Betting Line takes advantage of favorites scratching in Champlain
When unbeaten 2/5 morning line favorite Control The Moment was announced as a vet scratch sick partway through the card last night that opened the door for second choice Betting Line to record a Grand Circuit stakes win. Despite a few anxious moments on the final turn when the Bettors Delight colt appeared to be gapping his cover, he didn’t disappoint, getting up late to convert as the 1/2 favorite.
Victorious trainer Casie Coleman noted her colt’s issues after his 1:52 flat score. “No he wasn’t quite right tonight,” she mentioned. “He was on the right line pretty good and we think we know what it is. It’s a sesamoid and we’re going to get it cryoed on Monday morning and get it fixed up and ready for the rest of the season.”
Coleman expressed disappointment at Control The Moment’s scratching. “A win’s a win but it sucks to have to win that way,” she said. I guess he’s a bit sick tonight that colt; I didn’t want to win this way.”
Chalk bettors had to be worried as Betting Line seemingly couldn’t keep up on the final turn as Nocturnal Blue Chip led the field past a 55 2/5 half and through a 1:23 3/5 three-quarters, but when they straightened out, Steve Condren angled the eventual winner three-wide and he chased down the leader to get the job done by 1 1/4 lengths.
Betting Line won for the fifth time in eight lifetime starts and boosted his earnings close to the $340,000 mark for owners West Win Stable, Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol. He returned $3 to his faithful and the 9-4 exacta returned a $26.20.
Nvestment Bluechip atones for Metro Stakes miscue in Champlain
Nvestment Bluechip picked the worst time to break stride for the first time last week in the rich Metro Stakes Final. But last night he was poetry in motion in winning the $115,000 Champlain Stakes under expert handling by veteran reinsman Jody Jamieson.
After blasting to the front early in a 27 flat first 1/4, the Shadow Play colt released heavy favorite Voracity to the front past a 56 flat 1/2 but was kept right on his helmet throughout by Jamieson. As the leader passed the 3/4 pole in 1:23 4/5 it was obvious that Nvestment Bluechip wasn’t going away. As they straightened for home and Jamieson began to ease his charge off the rail, it became apparent that the Dave Menary-trained (and part-owned) colt had the most pace left.
Nvestment Bluechip easily drove past Voracity – who had finished third in the Metro – and had plenty left to hold any closers at bay while registering a new life’s mark of 1:52 1/5. New Talent drove up late for 2nd just ahead of Sassy’s King Kong while Voracity faded to 4th late.
Menary said he liked his colt right from the start. “He was my favorite all along right from November,” he said. He’s smart, he takes care of himself and he shows up when the lights are on. Menary wasn’t surprised by the result, either. “It kind of went like I thought it was going to go (tonight),” he said, “The colt had a really good week and I’ve always been pretty high on him and tonight we got paid for it.”
Nvestment Bluechip won for the third time in seven starts and pushed his earnings to more than $165,000 for Menary and partners Michael Guerriero and Denis Breton. He paid $8.20 to win and combined with 41/1 shot New Talent for a $134.60 exacta.
Resolve solid in Maple Leaf Trot elimination win
Is Resolve the “now” horse in the aged trotting ranks? It certainly appears so.
The four-year-old Muscle Hill stallion has amassed a nice bankroll by mostly picking up checks in some big races this season, but by recording his 2nd win of the season in his Maple Leaf Trot elimination last night, he is looking like a horse that is peaking at the right time heading for the rich final of that race next week.
Resolve – second choice in the wagering behind the mare D One – was immediately sent for the front when the gate pulled away by trainer/driver Ake Svandstedt who was obviously intent on controlling things. He led through a moderate 27 4/5 opening frame with last year’s Breeders Crown winner Intimidate lurking in the pocket and the favorite sitting a comfortable fourth.
Resolve’s fortunes took a turn for the better when D One broke just after pulling off the rail to head for the front before the 1/2. Svandstedt used that miscue to his advantage by stealing a 29 flat second 1/4 which in effect meant sure doom for the rest of his foes that were still trotting.
Local hope Daylon Magician was sent first-up heading to the 3/4 pole by driver Jack Moiseyev but Resolve was unfazed and unbothered and drove away from Daylon Magician after hitting the 3/4 in 1:25 1/5 by trotting the final frame in 27 3/5.
Resolve was an easy winner by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:52 4/5 on a track that had been dampened by some mid-evening rain. Intimidate hung around to finish 2nd and Obrigado, who briefly went rough in the final turn finished third. The powerful victory – albeit aided by some soft early fractions – likely stamps Resolve as the early favorite for the Maple Leaf Trot final next week.
In winning for the 2nd time in nine 2015 starts, Resolve pushed his season’s earnings to more than $263,000 for owner Hans Enggren. He paid $6.60 to win and combined with Intimidate for an $80.60 exacta.
Natural Herbie upsets in his Maple Leaf Trot elimination
Seemingly destined to finish 2nd to Bee A Magician in mid-stretch, 12/1 longshot Natural Herbie showed the grit he has become known for and just kept coming to mow the
2013 Horse of the Year down right on the line in the first Maple Leaf Trot elimination.
Sitting fifth nearing the 3/4 pole while J L Cruze set a reasonable pace, owner/trainer/driver Verlin Yoder pulled the 5-year-old Here Comes Herbie gelding first up. But he didn’t even make it close to the top two when pocket-sitter Bee A Magician slid off the rail and began to glide up, looking every bit the winner at the 1/8th pole.
As Bee A Magician easily passed the faltering J L Cruze, Natural Herbie kept coming, forcing Brian Sears to urge the leader on as they neared the wire. Natural Herbie was able to reach up by a head right on the wire in 1:52 4/5 on a track that had been moistened by some mid-card rain.
Yoder said he wasn’t surprised by the lack of speed in the race. “I figured there would be no speed on the front end,” he remarked. “I was hoping I could be first up or second up and it worked out pretty good. When I called on him he was ready.”
Bee A Magician finished a clear 2nd with longshot Lindy’s Tru Grit closing late for third. Whiskey Tax held on for 4th ahead of J L Cruze who faded badly late. The only horse that didn’t make the final was Elittlopp winner Magic Tonight who finished 6th and last and has not thrived since returning to North America this summer.
Natural Herbie returned $27.70 to win in just a six-horse field and combined with Bee A Magician for a 457.90 exacta.
Pinkman rebounds in Canadian Trotting Classic elimination
Pinkman served notice to his Canadian Trotting Classic foes that he’s still the horse to beat with a workmanlike 1:52 2/5 victory over stablemate The Bank last night.
Pinkman, as is his custom, left hard for the front but The Bank also had designs on the top and was pushed to the lead by trainer/driver Jimmy Takter in a reasonable first 1/4 of 27.4. But The Bank wouldn’t enjoy his lead for very long as Yannick Gingras sent Pinkman back out for command and the public’s 4/5 favorite would not relinquish the lead from there, trotting past the 3/4 in 1:24 4/5 en route to a 1:52 2/5 two-length score over his stablemate.
“He sure was really good tonight.” Gingras beamed after the race. “I kicked the plugs out halfway down the stretch and he got into another gear and trotted really strong to the wire.”
Pinkman came off an adventurous trip in the Yonkers Trot final which his driver said had more to do with the track configuration than Pinkman. “He didn’t like the half (mile track),” he said matter-of-factly. “He struggled on it and was running in real hard. He was pretty bumpy gaited. It was pretty amazing that he stayed at it both weeks. He’s a really game horse but the half-mile track isn’t what he likes.”
The race was marred by several breakers, including Takter’s third entrant, Canepa Hanover, who broke just past the ½ while racing along in 4th, Lookslikeachpndale, who broke while sitting a good third at the 3/4 and Centurion ATM, who broke at the start. The latter managed to recover to finish 4th and make the final.
Pinkman won for the first time since his Hambletonian victory, taking his ninth win in 13 starts this year. He has now earned $1.225 million for owners Christine Takter, Jim and John Fielding Joyce McLelland and Herb Liverman.
He returned $3.70 as the choice and the Takter exactor with The Bank 2nd paid $15.70.
Uncle Lasse converts a perfect trip to win his Canadian Trotting Classic elimination
Uncle Lasse parlayed a perfect pocket trip into a win in his $40,000 Canadian Trotting Classic elimination getting up over heavy favorite Crazy Wow in the final strides in a mile timed in 1:52 3/5.
There was very little movement throughout the race as Crazy Wow was allowed to set the pace as he pleased carving out a reasonable opening half of 56 2/5. When no one moved at the 1/2 and Crazy Wow’s teamster Tim Tetrick stole a 29-second third ¼ breather, it appeared as though the heavy favorite held a big advantage. But Uncle Lasse – who finished third in the Hambletonian Final last month to Pinkman – clearly had other ideas and turned on the afterburners to outsprint the leader in a 27 1/5 final 1/4 to reach up late. That final frame was the fastest fraction of the race.
Winning driver Sears praised the son of Donato Hanover in the winner’s circle. “The trip worked out perfect and I was really happy with that and the horse really responded off the trip,” he said. “He’s been knocking on the door all year and hopefully he has a good one next week.”
Uncle Lasse won for the fifth time in eleven 2015 starts and raised his season’s earnings above the $500,000 level for owners Solveigs Racing Partners and Goran Falk. He
returned $7.80 as the second choice in the wagering. Crazy Wow finished 2nd ahead of Muscle Up The Goal who closed for third late.