by Garnet Barnsdale
Some well-bred rookie trotters were in action on Friday night at the Meadowlands, with two divisions for each gender of the Kindergarten Classic series. The race that caught my eye was the faster of two filly divisions, which featured several promising juvenile trotters.
Race favorite Live Laugh Love – a $90,000 Lexington sale purchase – is by prolific trotting sire Donato Hanover out of the S Js Caviar mare Shes Gone Again meaning that she’s a half-sister of Enterprise, who won five of the first six starts of his career this spring while taking a mark of 1:53.1 at the Meadowlands. Live Laugh Love was made a heavy 1-2 favorite Friday night off a sharp 1:56.2 qualifier win on July 1st that featured a 27.2 last quarter.
Second choice Mooshka Stride – purchased for $260,000 as a yearling at the 2016 Lexington sale by Emilio and Maria Rosati of Australia – is the first foal out of $1.9 million earner Check Me Out, whose sensational career featured several stakes tallies among her 27 wins from 42 starts and a race record of 1:51.2 taken at The Red Mile in the fall of her three-year-old campaign in a race where she beat arch-rival Maven. This daughter of Credit Winner was sent out by trainer Mark Harder for her debut.
Third choice Hey Blondie – a $125,000 Harrisburg sale purchase – is by Cantab Hall out of the Muscles Yankee mare Winbak Blondie, a winner of two of 12 starts who earned just $16,545. What makes Winbak Blondie interesting, and no doubt contributed to the purchase price of Hey Blondie – is that she is a full-sister to the great Muscle Hill. Hey Blondie – who was sent out by Hall of Fame trainer Chuck Sylvester on Friday night – had already hinted at having some ability by finishing second to Live Laugh Love in the July 1st qualifier.
The race itself started out with the three favorites getting away third, fourth and sixth, but it didn’t take long for the flow to develop as Live Laugh Love set her sights on heading for the front as the field raced past the opening quarter in :29 flat. That flushed Scott Zeron and Mooshka Stride out of third, which momentarily pushed the race favorite three-wide. As Mooshka Stride made the front, it was obvious that Live Laugh Love intended on brushing past her to the lead, but it wasn’t to be as the heavy chalk broke stride – perhaps affected by the sloppy track condition.
That turn of events put the ball firmly in Mooshka Stride’s court and she backed the pace down considerably, trotting to the half in a rated :58.1, then taking a 30-second breather to the 3/4. As Mooshka Stride accelerated around the final turn and into the stretch, Hey Blondie had been racing second-over following cover that was now backing up and forcing her to pull the trigger three-wide.
In deep stretch, it appeared that Mooshka Stride and Zeron were home free, but Hey Blondie would have a final and decisive say by producing a dynamic turn of foot in the final 1/16th of a mile for driver Andrew McCarthy to get up for her maiden win by a ½ length over a game Mooshka Stride. Meanwhile, Nifty Norman trainee Lucky Rainbow trotted the fastest quarter of the race (:27.4) to close for third, only 3/4 of a length behind the winner.
Hey Blondie’s 1:56.3 clocking was a full second faster than the clocking set by Supergirl Riley in the other division of the filly Kindergarten Classis Series and only 1/5th of a second slower than the faster colt and gelding division winner Hill Street, who scored in 1:56.2 for the trainer driver combo of Jimmy Takter/Yannick Gingras.
While Hey Blondie’s performance was notable not so much by how fast she trotted but more so by the eye-catching move she made late, it will be fun to follow this dynamic trio (plus one, if you consider Lucky Rainbow’s good debut mile) as their careers progress.