Midweek recap

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

October 15th, 2014

In each of the first two weeks of racing in October at Rosecroft Raceway, the Tuesday evening cards have clearly taken center stage and this past Tuesday it was one trainer who earned the spotlight.

At the midway point of the 12-race card on Tuesday, House On Fire (Jonathan Roberts) notched his second straight victory in the $10,000 Open 2 Handicap for trotters despite being assigned the eight hole following a sharp, two-moves score the week before. Then two races later in the featured, $13,000 Open Handicap for older pacers it was Shady Breeze (Tony Morgan) who overcame the eight-hole draw to notch his second win in the top class.

While most fans watching live or via simulcast were likely not surprised that either House On Fire or Shady Breeze prevailed, they probably took a second glance at the program to notice that Judy Welty trains both aged stalwarts. House On Fire, a six-year-old Conway Hall gelding out of a Muscles Yankee mare, set the track record for aged geldings when he scored in 1:54.1 for owner Kelley Rogers.

House On Fire has now won three of his four starts at Rosecroft during the fall meet and joined the short list of early candidates for the horse of the meet. He owns a 6-3-2 slate and $40,000 bankroll from 19 starts overall this year and his latest score also equaled his lifetime mark. His lone setback at the meet occurred on Sep. 23 when Mandabra equaled the all-age track record for trotters of 1:54.

Welty appears to have another logical early contender for horse of the meet honors with Shady Breeze, a five-year-old Nuclear Breeze ridgling that she owns and trains. Shady Breeze, who owns a 3-4-5 slate and $38,000 bankroll from 17 starts this year, has won the to Open twice in four starts at the meet. He was second once, and third once, behind Beavercreek Artist, another horse of the meet contender for trainer Eric Ell.

Then one race later in the $10,000 Open II class for pacers, Lyons Meandragon (Roger Plante, Jr.) benefited from a perfect pocket trip behind Caviart Tyler (Roberts) - a former horse of the meet selection - and rallied inside late to prevail in 1:51.1 for trainer John McIntyre. Lyons Meandragon has won twice in four starts at the current meet, having previously taken the Open II two starts back as an overlooked 36-1 outsider.

One of the best performances of the night came courtesy of another fall meet champion, Varsity Hanover (Tony Morgan), who easily captured a non-winners of $5000 last five conditioned event in 1:51.2 for owner-trainer James Whalen, Jr. A five-year-old Modern Art gelding out of a Big Towner mare, Varsity Hanover has won twice in five starts at the meet, both with Morgan in the bike, and he will likely earn a spot in the Open II next Tuesday.

In 33 starts this year for Whalen, Varsity Hanover now owns a 4-6-3 slate and $47,000 bankroll and his 1:51.2 score on Tuesday represents a new lifetime mark. He also sports a solid 14-19-11 slate and $105,000 banked from 90 career outings. He was selected as the track's fall meet champion at age two in 2011 when he also earned the nickname "the Crumpton Crusher" referring to his owner-trainer's home town.