Posts Tagged ‘Designed To Be’

PA Sire Stakes Championship Night brings out the best of the Freshman stars

Monday, September 8th, 2014

The best Pennsylvania-sired 2YOs gathered at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday night for their $1,240,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships Night. Each of the Championship events went for a $260,000 bounty; all consolations for the Sire Stakes divisions went for purses of $50,000. 

Here’s a recap of the action, division by division, along with a writeup on the two $50,000 Invitationals also scheduled on the blockbuster card. (The track was rated “fast” for the two baby trotter consolations; rain later forced the condition downward to “good.”)


Southwind Roulette headed a 1-2-3 sweep for trainer Ron Burke by winning her Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing filllies. She won in 1:52.3 over “good” going to become the richest pacer in one season of Sire Stakes competition, with $269,248 in her races for Keystone State-sired company.

 Southwind Roulette, described as “a very professional filly – she’ll do just what you ask her to do” by driver Yannick Gingras – tucked third early as her Burke stablemates Well Hello There and Kay’s Dragon Lady argued through the 27 quarter, then was moved to the fore past the latter well before the 56.2 half. Southwind Roulette opened up at the 1:24.3 3/4s and had a good-sized lead in the stretch, with Kay’s Dragon Lady closing well late but not really threatening, with Well Hello There salvaging the show. 

The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Bradley Grant and Howard Taylor, went 4-3-0-1 in her Sires prelims, the three triumphs in her last three starts, and this victory boosted her money total to the record Sire Stakes mark for pacers, ahead of the $245,615 season sophomore filly Charisma Hanover put together last year. 2TC Dontyouforgetit holds the all-time one season record in the Pennsylvania program, with $275,553 in 2012.

 2YO Filly Pace Consolation—Pacesetting Macarena Mama was determined late to hold off inside-shooting Safe From Terror to win this section’s consolation in 1:53.1, a personal best. Corey Callahan was sulkysitting behind the daughter of McArdle for trainer Blake Macintosh, who also co-owns with Susan Hall, Anne Campbell, and Stephen Waldman. 


 A race after the 2PF Championship, driver Yannick Gingras came right back with “another professional filly, a real sweetheart,” Wild Honey, who set a stakes record of 1:54.2 despite the good going, completing a “sweep” of her division — wins in all four legs and the Championship, following in the footsteps of only Coulantine (2004) and Fashion Feline (2009).

 The daughter of Cantab Hall went straight to the front in the 28.1 opener, but in front of the stands Speak To Me made a bold brush and wrested the racetrack away from Wild Honey before the 56.4 half. Gingras seemed unperturbed though, and past the 1:25.1 3/4s he moved Wild Honey out in front of the advancing Jersey Strong and went straight to command, holding off that rival with ease to knock a tick off the stakes record shared by Sand Violent Blu (2011) and Designed To Be (2013). Like the winner a member of the Jimmy Takter barn, Smexi, finished third.

 2YO Filly Trot Consolation—If you need proof that “times have changed” in harness racing, consider this: Pius Soehnlen campaigned the iron-tough FFA trotter Dream Of Glory in the mid-70s, and that horse took a mark of 1:57.2. Tonight Soehnlen as owner won this consolation event with Matter Hatter, a daughter of Explosive Matter who also rallied from far back to tally over Bright Bay Blues for driver David Miller and trainer Jeff Cox. The lifetime for her second lifetime victory? 1:55.2 (when the track was still fast)– two seconds faster than Dream Of Glory’s lifetime mark!   


 Sire Cantab Hall completed a Championship double, and another horse joined the select club of being a Sire Stakes “sweeper,” when Billy Flynn roared off cover to win in 1:55.2 in the off going for driver Brett Miller and trainer Staffan Lind. 

Billy Flynn raced atypically off the pace tonight, with Walter White on top at the 27.3 quarter, then yielding to Hurrikane Jonny K as that one put up middle splits of 57 and 1:26.1. Piercewave Hanover provided cover from first-over, and when Billy Flynn tipped off that cover, “he was great tonight – he felt great,” noted driver Miller, the colt not showing any of his previous bearing-out tendencies. Off-the-pace tactics proved best in this event, as Honor And Serve and Ralph R closed strongly for second and third, respectively.

 Billy Flynn joins Stormin Normand (2011) as the only freshman colt trotters to notch the “4+1” Sire Stakes  season. Bender Sweden Inc own the emerging star, who is now undefeated in seven starts. 

2YO Colt Trot Consolation –Not many horses break their maiden by missing their divisional world record by 2/5 of a second, but that’s what the Broadway Hall gelding On The Sly did in winning his consolation event in 1:55.2. Hinting at promise with a second, a third, and a fourth in Sires preliminaries, On The Sly finally put it all together, swinging wide from third-over behind contested fractions and overhauling frontstepping Pierre late for driver Brett Miller, trainer Morgan McInnis, and the Revocable Trust of Barbara Boese. The 1:55.2 time over the still-”fast” track was just short of Correctamundo’s world standard, and only a tick shy of the local mark of It Really Matters. 


Billy Flynn and Yankee Bounty are both now seven for seven in their careers, and both completed Sire Stakes “4+1” sweeps.

 That’s where the similarities end. 

Whereas Billy Flynn came off the pace to win easily, Yankee Bounty made an early move to take the lead near the 55.1 half (Dragon Eddy had insisted on the early lead in an astounding 26 before yielding), then fought off a nose-to-nose challenge from Lost For Words by and past the 1:22.2 3/4s. 

Maybe it’s good Yankee Bounty had the practice in winning a hotly-contested duel – because another determined foe soon loomed in the Pocono Pike in the form of Tomy Terror. The two geldings battled on even terms much of the stretch, with Yankee Bounty showing great heart to put his nose over first in 1:50.3 – a Pocono track record for 2PG, and just a tick behind the stakes mark of One More Laugh, whom Yankee Terror now joins in the 2PC Sire Stakes sweeping ranks. 

The victory made Yannick Gingras a three-time SS winner on the card, giving him 10 in his career and moving him to (a distant) second behind Dave Palone (34) on the career list. Two of those victories came for trainer Ron Burke, who recently engineered the new ownership combine of Yankee Bounty Partnership and Frank Chick.  

2YO Colt Pace Consolation—McCito yielded the early lead to favored Talking Points, then came back in the lane to nip that rival late and take a new mark of 1:52. The McArdle gelding, driven by Andrew McCarthy for C&G Racing Stable, comes from the red-hot barn of Aaron Lambert, who seems to be sending out nothing but winners the last couple weeks. 


The FFA trot was named the “Modern Family Trot” after the late Pocono-based world-class trotter, with Pocono-based trainer Daryl Bier and the horse’s connections on hand for winners circle ceremonies. 

Modern Family, always a game horse, would have admired the stretch tenacity of his frequent foe Wishing Stone, who raced third on the rail and cleared “about three strides before the wire” according to his driver (with a combination grin/grimace) to edge out Not Afraid in 1:52.4 for Wishing Stone Syndicate. That driver, by the way, was Yannick Gingras, who along with trainer Ron Burke was in Pocono’s winners circle for the fifth time on the night. Wishing Stone also “saved” the 1-5 betting entry, as the more fancied horse, Market Share, made a break early.

 The ”Adieu to the Almost Summer” Pace saw Sunfire Blue Chip make a quarter-move, then say “adieu” to the field with a 26.4 last quarter in driving rain for a 1:49.2 win for driver Yannick Gingras, trainer Jimmy Takter, and the ownership combine of Takter, Fielding, Fielding, Brixton Medical AB and R A W Equine Inc. Perhaps “adieu” was just the right name for a race taken by the son of American Ideal, as the winner of four straight, at four different tracks,  is the early favorite for the $200,000 Prix d’Ete, to be revived as a four-year-old event in two weeks at Hippodrome 3R in Quebec (Gingras’ base before coming Stateside; Takter confirmed that race was on his horse’s schedule.)

$1.2 Million PA Sire Stakes Championship Night set for Saturday, September 6

Friday, September 5th, 2014

The cream of the crop of this year’s Pennsylvania-sired two-year-old trotters and pacers will gather together this Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs for their $1,240,000 Championships Night program. 

The horses, in both the $260,000 finals and the $50,000 consolations, earned their way into these races by having the highest pointtotals based on finish position in four PaSS preliminaries raced at the state’s tracks over the last two months. 

The four Championship events are slotted for races nine through twelve on Saturday’s 16-race card at Pocono; here’s a look at them in the order they will be conducted: 

TWO-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES (stakes record – 1:51.1, Economy Terror, 2007) 

These fillies have been very competitive among themselves, as this is the only of the four divisions that will find no four-time prelim winner looking for a sweep in the Championship. (In fact, there has never been a “sweeper” in the 2PF class since a record of prelim points was started in 2002, a fact which will obviously stay intact in 2014; what’s more, the prelim pointleader has not won the 2PF Championship since Lady Annie in 2007.) 

Aria Hanover (post two, driver Tim Tetrick listed) and Southwind Roulette (post five, Yannick Gingras) figure to be the focal points of attention after showing three wins and a third in their prelims to be tied for the top in this group. Southwind Roulette was third in her first PaSS start, then has taken her last three; among the conquered in her final prelim was … Aria Hanover, who had won three straight going into that event. 

TWO-YEAR-OLD TROTTING FILLIES (stakes record – 1:54.3, Sand Violent Blu, 2011, and Designed To Be, 2013) 

In contrast to their pacing counterparts, two 2TFs have swept their four prelims and their Championship: Coulantine in 2004, and Fashion Feline in 2009. And the leading pointwinner has won their Championship in each of the last three years (the stake speed setters with Frau Blucher in between).  

Looking to add herself the “sweeper” ranks is Wild Honey (post seven, Yannick Gingras). In keeping her record unblemished in the prelims last time out, Wild Honey defeated Gatka Hanover (post eight, Ron Pierce), who had also won her three prelims heretofore, by a half-length. Neither filly will particularly benefit from their outside post draw, making this shape up as a very tough affair.

 TWO-YEAR-OLD TROTTING COLTS (stakes record – 1:54.3, Stormin Normand, 2011) 

In setting this division’s speed mark, Stormin Normand also completed the “Sire Stakes sweep,” the only 2TC to have accomplished the feat. 

Attempting to emulate the “Storm” will be Billy Flynn (post four, Brett Miller), 6 for 6 in his young career. But there are three two-time Sire Stakes prelim winners in this field – Honor And Serve, Lima Pride, and Piercewave Hanover – plus Walter White, a horse who came within a head of Billy Flynn two starts back, so no one is conceding the honors to the unbeaten horse going in.

 TWO-YEAR-OLD PACING COLTS (stakes record – 1:50.2, One More Laugh, 2009) 

Like his colt counterpart on the trotting side, Stormin Normand, One More Laugh became his division’s only sweeper when he set the stakes mark five years back. (The leading prelim pointleader has won the 2PC in three of the last five years, including Allstar Partner last year.)

 Probably set to draw the majority of the focus here is Yankee Bounty (post three, Yannick Gingras), who like Billy Flynn is both 6 for 6 lifetime and unbeaten in the Sires prelims. But also like Billy Flynn, Yankee Bounty had a horse who gave him a scare – Wazikashi Hanover came within a neck of an upset last

time — and again like Billy Flynn, Yankee Bounty faces three opponents with multiple PaSS prelim wins: McArdles Lightning (who had three) along with Dragon Eddy and Lost For Words (two each).


 There will be $50,000 consolations for each of the four Sire Stakes divisions’ horses who came up just shy in trying to earn themselves a place in the final.

 It does seem strange to call a contest an “undercard” event when the field of eight has combined earnings of $12,112,270, especially when the first three horses in the post parade have bankrolled $9,956,663 among them. But this is a special field, for a special race – the $50,000 Modern Family Trot, honoring the recently-deceased free-for-aller who was based with the Daryl Bier stable right at Pocono, and who was competitive with this national group the last two years. Those “first three horses,” by the way, are Wishing Stone, Market Share, and Arch Madness, and when mixed with Sevruga and four other hard-hitters they should give a fit tribute to their fallen fellow competitor.

 There will also be a $50,000 Invitational Pace, the Adieu to the Almost Summer Pace (no doubt if this race were held in the western part of the state, it would be called the Adios to the Almost Summer Pace, but that’s another story). Millionaires Golden Receiver and Bolt The Duer will draw attention here, along with two sharp four-year-olds on three-race winning streaks: Sunfire Blue Chip and Mach It So.

 The first of Saturday’s 16 races is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Shake It Cerry Wins in Pennsylvania All Stars at Pocono

Monday, July 7th, 2014

June 29, 2014

Shake It Cerry bounced back from her first loss of the 2014 season with a victory in a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars on Sunday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were three $33,800 divisions of the All Stars races held at Pocono for 3-year-old trotting fillies.

Shake It Cerry (Donato Hanover-Solveig), who was stymied by a world-record performance by Designed To Be in her last start, improved to four-for-five in 2014 with a well-rated victory in 1:54:1. Ron Pierce was aboard the 2013 Breeders Crown champ for trainer Jimmy Takter. Other division winners in the age group on Sunday night were Ocean Love Potion (Yankee Glide-Sole Mate), driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt, who scored her maiden win in 1:54:3; and Lifetime Pursuit (Cantab Hall-Queen Of Grace), driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Jimmy Takter, who scored in 1:53:3.

There were also four $32,650 divisions of Pennsylvania All Stars Races held at Pocono on Sunday night for 2-year-old colts and geldings on the pace. Tomy Terror (Western Terror-Mib Hanover), a 10-1 shot trained by John Butenschoen and driven by Corey Callahan, posted the fastest winning time of the freshmen with a victory in 1:53:3. Other division winners: Dragon Eddy (Dragon Again-Jaska Hanover), driven by Mike Simons and trained by Butenschoen, in 1:54:3; Trading Up (Somebeachsomewhere-Rita J), driven by Scott Zeron and trained by Tony Alagna, in 1:53:4; and Yankee Bounty (Yankee Cruiser-Bootleg Yankee), driven by Callahan and trained by Kevin Lare, in 1:53:4.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

June 14-20, 2014

We are in the thick of the most exciting time of the season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Over the next few weekends we’ll be seeing some of the finest standardbreds in the world competing for some huge stakes. We’ve also been blessed with Sire Stakes and Stallion Series races just about every night of late. Through all of that, our overnight races continue to produce outstanding performances. It’s not easy to choose the very best out of such a wealth of talent, but that’s what we’ll try to do as we hand out the Weekly Awards.


When a horse is a part of a barn as successful as that of trainer Chris Oakes and it isn’t winning with regularity, it can almost seem like an underachiever. In the case of 4-year-old gelding Fateful Choice, it may just have been a case early this year of running up against top competition while not quite on his best game. The result was just a single win in ten races to start the 2014 season.

A drop down in class on June 3 to the non-winners of $7,000 in the last five starts did the trick though, as Fateful Choice found his confidence and his stride in a big way, blowing the field away by 4 ¼ lengths in 1:49:2, a new career-best. Bouyed by the victory, he moved up to take on a tougher group of non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts on Saturday night.

Driver Anthony Napolitano stayed aggressive with Fateful Choice, sending him to the front end, then rated him very well to the half. At that point, the gelding was a powerhouse and scorched the dirt on his way to his second sub-1:50 victory, this one coming in 1:49:4. All of a sudden, Fateful Choice has the look of so many other of his stablemates. In other words, he looks awful tough to beat.

Other top pacers this week include: Bushwacker (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Ryder), who moved to two-for-two on the season with another impressive condition win on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51; Colossal Cruiser (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who took a huge step up in class Saturday night to the $20,000 claimers and still picked up his second straight victory, doing so in a career-best 1:50; and Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley), who tuned up in anticipation of the Ben Franklin pace at Pocono by dominating a Preferred group on Saturday night in the week’s fastest time of 1:48:2.


This 5-year-old stallion from the Mark Harder barn has been exceptional since arriving at Pocono for a condition trot on June 4. That was just his second start following a layoff of two months, but there was no rust evident whatsoever as he took the lead on the front stretch and then gutted out a tough stretch drive to win by a neck in 1:53:3.

On Tuesday night, Il Mago was back at it against the non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts once again, albeit this time in a slightly tougher post on the outer half of the field. Andrew McCarthy was still able to fire the stallion out of the gate and reach the front end before the quarter-pole. He was also able to slow the pace down with fractions almost identical to Il Mago’s previous win.

In the stretch, a couple horses drew to within striking distance, but McCarthy called on the afterburners and Il Mago responded. The result was a second straight victory with the same time of 1:53:3 from the previous week. That kind of consistent excellence is the stuff of long winning streaks, so watch out for this talented trotted in the weeks to come even if he moves up in class.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Not Afraid (Jim Morrill Jr., Jimmy Takter), who followed up a win at the Meadowlands with a Preferred win on Saturday night at Pocono in a new career mark of 1:51:4, which was also fastest trotting time of the week at MSPD; Bikini So Teeny (Charlie Norris trainer and driver, who won her second straight on Wednesday night, this one coming in Stallion Series company in a career-best 1:55; and Designed To Be (Brian Sears, Julie Miller), whose Sire Stakes win on Wednesday night matched a world record for 3-year-old trotting fillies on a 5/8-mile oval with a winning time of 1:51:3.


Despite being laid off since a May 2nd victory in California, this mare with Andrew McCarthy in the bike rallied for a claiming pacing win on Sunday night at 23-1 for a $48.40 payout on a $2 win ticket.


A-Nap looks poised for his best season ever at Pocono, especially after a week in which he had mutilple wins in three of the four racing nights.


Miller had a wonderful night at the Sire Stakes on Wednesday, sweeping both divisions of the 3-year-old trotting fillies with her trainees Take The Money and Designed To Be.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at

Designed To Be Matches World Record in Sire Stakes Win at Pocono

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

June 18, 2014

Designed To Be exorcised some demons in a big way by winning a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Tuesday night, matching a world record in the process. The race was one of two $98,100 Sire Stakes divisions held at Pocono for three-year-old trotting fillies.

The last time she was at Pocono, Designed To Be (Donato Hanover-Sheer Soul), trained by Julie Miller, broke stride as the heavy favorite in a Breeders Crown elimination race in October. This time around, in just her second start of the year following a Sire Stakes win at Chester in early May, the filly, an 8-5 second choice, had to face off with defending division champ Shake It Cerry. Driver Brian Sears made the lead with Designed To Be on the front stretch and rebuffed the challenge of Shake It Cerry on the final turn. In the stretch, she trotted away from closing Lifetime Pursuit to win by 2 ¾ lengths with Shake It Cerry fading to 3rd. The winning time of 1:51:3 matched the world record for three-year-old trotting fillies on a 5/8-mile track, previously set by Check Me Out at Pocono in 2012.

Trainer Julie Miller was able to claim a sweep of Sire Stakes action on the night, as her filly Take The Money (Donato Hanover-Repititions) took advantage of some racing luck to win her division in 1:52:4. In that split, Cooler Schooner was the heavy favorite and was in command heading into the final turn, but she spun way out wide and lost too much ground to hit the board. Take The Money, the 7-5 second choice with Dave Palone in the bike, inherited the lead from the pocket and toughed it out in the stretch to win by a length over Cantabs Fortune in 1:52:4. Tweet Me picked up the show.