Stars set to deliver on Sun Stakes Saturday
by Brett Sturman
Beginning with a postscript from last week’s column that segues into this one, a supplemental cost presumption was made should Jugette-nominated Sylvia Hanover opt to race in the Little Brown Jug.
In response to that column on social media, Little Brown Jug publicity director Jay Wolf posted the filly notice as part of the race conditions. It states, “Any nominated filly making payments when due may start in the Little Brown Jug to which she is eligible by paying an additional amount equal to the total required of colts and geldings plus the starting fee.” From the notice, Wolf confirms that it would cost Sylvia Hanover – or any other Jugette-nominated filly for that matter – just a fraction of what the standard supplement fee is.
Going from speculative races to actual ones, Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania shapes up to be one of the best Sun Stakes cards in recent memory. Included are the sport’s top two rated horses, the Hambletonian Oaks winner, the Hambletonian runner-up and a slew of other notable interests.
The $250,000 James Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old pacing fillies takes an even more prominent role than usual on the card, with another showdown coming between Sylvia Hanover and Twin B Joe Fresh. For Sylvia Hanover, all her prior races have been well documented, and the main question now is driver Bob McClure’s strategy while racing her on a smaller sized track for the first time in her career. Known more for her ability to grind than blinding early speed, she can leave if she must, and that looks like it might be the situation here. With all main threats to her inside, I’d imagine McClure doesn’t want any of them to be too far ahead at any point. This will be Sylvia Hanover’s toughest race since the Fan Hanover in June. I am curious to see if she’s up to the task.
Twin B Joe Fresh has only lost twice this year when racing against 3-year-old fillies and both of those came at the hands of Sylvia Hanover. After finishing second in that uniquely-run Mistletoe Shalee, she’s since come back with two straight wins, the most recent being a cool 1:48.2 career best win at Red Mile. She leaves to the immediate inside of Sylvia Hanover and there’s no question that Dunn will look to get the early jump. Charleston lands the rail and I’d say has completed the Big 3 as part of this group of fillies over the past two seasons. Though, Sweet Amira looks intriguing now and brings Louis Roy with her. The Sweet Lou filly has been impressive of late, including last week when Beach Cowgirl couldn’t make any impression on her from the pocket; Odds On Hail Mary was coming on late from well back in that same race.
Confederate highlights the $300,000 Max Hempt and in the span of 20 minutes between this race and the immediately preceding Lynch, maybe we’ll see a shakeup at the top of the standings when all is said and done. Confederate enters the Hempt off four consecutive miles in the 1:47 range, including a 1:47 flat win two back in the Meadowlands Pace which was then followed up by a just as smashing win in the Cane Pace. Similar to above, he’s another one who hasn’t traditionally been forwardly placed early but from post 5 Tetrick’s hand may be somewhat forced early.
Last year’s O’Brien and Dan Patch winner Stockade Seelster somehow paid nearly $11 in his most recent Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series leg after being sent off at odds of 1-9 in his prior Gold race. It wasn’t that long ago where he looked menacing in his Meadowlands Pace elimination when he got steppy and broke stride. It could be an interesting spot here for him. Speedy type Christchurch may be aided by the move to the rail and five-eighths oval though he’ll see pressure. Hungry Angel Boy had been on the rapid improve and never was able to get involved from the second tier in the Cane Pace. Redwood Hanover was superb in both his Adios elimination and in that final; was used too hard in that near record mile last out at Northfield. It’s impossible to discount the connections but it really does seem like Fulton was stronger at the onset of the season.
The $250,000 Delmonica Hanover sets up largely as a rematch of the Hambletonian Oaks as the first, second and fourth finishers from that race are all set to do battle again. Of note, the third-place finisher from that race, Righteous Resolve, was shockingly third earlier this week in an OSS Gold race.
As for Heaven Hanover, she’ll be out to keep the momentum going after that thrilling Hambletonian Oaks win as a big longshot. The talented filly was also overlooked three back in the Del Miller Memorial. Though those two wins have come from off the pace, she did show early speed the last time she was seen here in June, as well as the same at Harrah’s Philly last month. She has the post edge on Bond who in a reverse of tactics following that uncontrollable speed two back, picked the right race to sit off the pace in the Hambletonian Oaks. She came late with a rally from well off the pace, only to be caught at the wire by Heaven Hanover who raced from even further back. Secret Volo was expertly positioned in that race from Sears and had loomed; was likely a bit too close early to the fast fractions. Rose Run Yolanda returns from Ohio and did more than hold her own against these in the Del Miller last month at The Meadowlands.
Similar to the Delmonica Hanover, the $300,000 Earl Beal Memorial sports top finishers from the Hambletonian two weeks ago. Hambletonian winner Tactical Approach came back from his upset triumph to win in a Kentucky-sired event earlier this week at Red Mile, but the next three finishers from the Hambletonian are all here.
Oh Well came first over in the Hambletonian, took command from the race leader into the stretch and fought on gamely the rest of the way as he always does. He hasn’t been worse than second all year, but amazingly just has that single win coming from the Stanley Dancer. Celebrity Bambino was awesome two back when winning his Hambletonian elimination in a fast 1:50.4, but then was in trouble fairly early in the final despite being extremely well rated. He’s excellent when at his best, but has become tough to predict. Up Your Deo was closing with a ton of steam in the Hambletonian and I thought looked like a winner mid-stretch before flattening out a touch late. Kilmister comes off a nice confidence building win on the Hambletonian undercard. He outraced his odds three back in the Dancer and could be rounding back into his better form.
In the $100,000 Always B Miki invitational to close out the card, Allywag Hanover returns to Pocono for the first time since winning this same race last year. After some misfortune and not hitting the board in any of his five prior starts this year, he swelled up in the pocket last out in the Sam McKee Memorial and went on to produce a 1:47.2 win; nice to see him back! Stonebridge Helios kicked off the Hambletonian Day festivities with a fast win in that day’s first race. Tattoo Artist has raced well and has a recent string of second-place finishes against the best competition; yet to win though since that higher level conditioned race at Philly in June. Lou’s Pearlman was flying two back at The Meadowlands and then had a tough trip last out at Hoosier in the Dan Patch. Idealsomemagic gets a new driver in Andrew McCarthy. South Beach Star beat Ruthless Hanover three back.