Governor's Day offers solid local flavor

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Ted Black

August 5th, 2015

Last Thursday evening Harrington Raceway in southern Delaware kicked off the weekend festivities a day early when it hosted the annual Governor's Day program, highlighted by a 13-race card worth in excess of $600,000 and a brief visit from Jack Markell, the actual Governor of the First State.

In the opening race on the card, Purrfect Bags (Victor Kirby) overcame post position seven to gain command soon after the start and then she edged clear from Gigi Deo (Ross Wolfenden) to score by two lengths in 1:51.2 to capture the $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund final for three-year-old filly pacers. It was the sixth win in eight starts this year for Purrfect Bags, who earlier gained brief national prominence when she posted an 11-1 upset in the $120,000 Lismore final at Yonkers Raceway in New York.

A three-year-old daughter of Roddy's Bags Again trained by Jim King, Jr. for owner and wife, Joann Looney-King, Purrfect Bags pushed her seasonal earnings to nearly $150,000 and validated her status as the undisputed champion of the division. Bred by Winbak Farm in Maryland, Purrfect Bags has won 15 of 18 career outings and earned just shy of $300,000 along the way and her victory in the Lismore helped put the breeding industries of both Delaware and Maryland on the map.

Then one race later on the card it was many of the same connections who were back in the winner's circle as Just A Jolt (Kirby) successfully defended his title in the $40,000 Governor's Cup by leading throughout and keeping Bandolito (Daryl Bier) at bay first over. A five-year-old Village Jolt gelding trained by King for owner Janet L. Hudson, Just A Jolt notched his sixth win in 18 starts this year by stopping the timer in 1:51.2. His fondness for the oval is undisputed and now the multiple Open Handicap hero has consecutive Governor's Cup triumphs on his resume.

Then one race later on the card BJ's Sweetheart (Tony Morgan) used her inside post and early speed to their fullest advantage and led throughout the capture the $30,000 Legislator's Cup for pacing fillies and mares. A five-year-old No Pan Intended mare trained by Jason Skinner for co-owner and wife, Susan Skinner, BJ's Sweetheart notched her sixth win in 18 starts this year and pushed her seasonal earnings to nearly $50,000 while lowering her lifetime mark in the process.

Then one race later on the card in the $20,000 President's Cup, Bad Boy Matt (Corey Callahan) posted the fastest clocking on the card when he led throughout to score as the 3-10 choice in 1:51.1. A five-year-old Badlands Hanover gelding trained by Wayne Givens for the Legacy Racing, Bad Boy Matt notched his third win in 18 starts this year and also established a new lifetime mark in the process. He had been accustomed to facing much tougher while part of the Ron Burke barn.

Then in the $100,000 DSBF final for three-year-old trotting fillies, named in honor of the late, former track President, Jack Walls, Callmemza (Jonathan Roberts) regained her winning ways when she rallied for a 7-1 upset. A daughter of Great George Two owned, bred and trained by William "Bib" Roberts of Yankee Co-Ed fame, Callmemza now owns a 4-3-0 slate and $130,000 bankroll from only seven starts this year. She had been overshadowed by Silence Is Bliss in the opening two rounds and a Maryland Race Fund event at Ocean Downs, but responded on the big night.

Several races later in the $100,000 DSBF final for three-year-old colt trotters, named in honor of Hal Belote, the late trainer-driver who died from injuries sustained in an accident at Harrington Raceway 15 years ago, Perfect Vangogh (Morgan) was the most fortuitous winner of the night as an overlooked 57-1 longshot. Go Byem (Les Givens) was sent away as the 1-20 favorite from the rail after winning his two elims by a combined 25 lengths. But after brushing to command past the half-mile mark, Go Byem made a break when Givens popped the ear plugs and could only rally for third as Perfect Vangogh notched just his second win from 11 starts this year for trainer Donald Wiest.

Then two races later on the card, Remember Me VK (Montrell Teague) got a hint of redemption when he led throughout as the 3-5 favorite to capture the $100,000 DSBF final for three-year-old pacing colts. An Art Director colt trained by Robert Wyatt for owner-breeders Robert Benton and Robin Kay West, Remember Me VK posted his sixth win in seven starts this year and more than doubled his seasonal earnings to $82,000.

Last fall Remember Me VK looked like the dominant member of this group but he got sick just before the $100,000 DSBF final at Dover Downs and failed to earn a check. He also missed the first round of events at Dover this spring, but returned to the races in May and reeled off five straight wins before settling for second in the second DSBF elim. He got redemption in a number of ways in the final last Thursday, leading throughout to sprint clear of Roddy's Hot Again (George Dennis) for his ninth win in 12 lifetime starts.