Stakes continue at Harrah's Philly and Ocean Downs on Sunday

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Ted Black

September 4th, 2017

One night after many of harness racing's best horses of all ages and both gaits competed at Mohawk Raceway in Canada and at Yonkers Raceway in New York, standardbred fans still had the chance to see a number of talented trotters and pacers compete in stakes races at Harrah's Philadelphia and at Ocean Downs on a day when upsets were the rule, not the exception.

Sunday afternoon's card at Harrah's Philadelphia - still known as 'Chester' my many harness racing enthusiasts who recall the track opening as Chester Downs - a quartet of $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-olds of both gaits and genders took center stage. But the day lost some luster when Fear The Dragon, the sport's top rated horse of any age and either gait or gender, was scratched prior to the main event.

In the first of the four PASS finals for sophomores, Dover Dan (Tim Tetrick) benefited from patient handling and a pocket trip and overhauled favored Giveitgasandgo (Corey Callahan) to forge a modest 7-1 upset in the trotting colt division. A sophomore son of Andover Hall trained by John Butenschoen, Dover Dan ended a modest drought that included a berth in the Grade I, $1 million Hambletonian final, to score in 1:53.3 for his third win in 13 starts this year which more than doubled his seasonal earnings to almost $210,000.

Then one race later in the PASS final for three-year-old pacing fillies, Agent Q (David Miller) failed to deliver as the 2-5 favorite when she offered little while racing first over down the backside and settled for third as Caviart Ally (Andrew McCarthy) led throughout en route to an 8-1 upset in 1:50.2. A Virginia-bred sophomore daughter of Bettor's Delight trained by Noel Daley, Caviart Ally now owns a 4-3-3 slate and $335,000 bankroll from 12 starts this year and finally turned the tables on Agent Q, a Maryland-bred daughter of Western Terror trained by Aaron Lambert.

Then one race later in the PASS final for three-year-old trotting fillies, Thats All Moni (Tetrick) benefited from a second over journey and rallied three-wide in the lane to score by nearly a length in 1:53.3. A sophomore daughter of Cantab Hall trained by Jimmy Takter, Thats All Moni notched her third win from seven starts this year and tripled her seasonal earnings to $185,000. While other trainers might boast about a PASS champ, Thats All Moni is not even among the two best three-year-old filly trotters in Takter's barn this summer.

Then one race later in the main event, the PASS final for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, the defection of division leader Fear The Dragon left the door wide open for Huntsville, last year's champion two-year-old pacing colt who has played second fiddle to the 'Dragon' this season. Sent out as the 1-5 favorite from post six on Sunday, Huntsville (Tetrick) failed to deliver and settled for third in a nondescript performance.

Filibuster Hanover (Matt Kakaley) left alertly and carved out honest fractions of 27, 54.4 and 1:21 with Boogie Shuffle (Scott Zeron) sitting on his helmet the entire trip. Huntsville got away fourth and angled out first over nearing the half, but the odds-on choice never threatened while first over down the backside and faded to third in a subpar performance.

Boogie Shuffle, however, was on his game on Sunday and he angled out of the pocket turning for home and overhauled Filibuster Hanover to score by a neck in 1:48.2, a sparking clocking over a track that was not conducive to fast times. A Well Said gelding trained by Mark Harder, Boogie Shuffle recorded his fourth win in 13 starts this year and nearly tripled his seasonal earnings to $192,000. Filibuster Hanover, a PASS elim winner the week before, was a sharp second in defeat.

That same evening at Ocean Downs, many of the state's top freshmen pacers and trotters of both genders were on display in a handful of Maryland Standandbred Race Fund events on the penultimate night of racing at the seaside oval this summer.

In the opening race on the card, Michelles Jazz (Frank Milby) easily lived up to her role as the 1-9 favorite in the $14,000 MDRF split for two-year-old filly pacers when she brushed to command before the half and then drew off on the far turn to win by five lengths in 1:58. A juvenile daughter of Roll With Joe trained by Joe Columbo for owners George & Tina Dennis, Michelles Jazz notched her second victory in eight starts this year and pushed her bankroll past $27,000. Both of her wins have come in MDRF events at Ocean Downs.

One race later on the card, Chucky De Vie (Ross Wolfenden) posted a mild 5-2 upset in the $24,000 MDRF event for freshman trotting colts and geldings. Away well to gain command from post five, Chucky De Vie carved out the fractions and shook off a bid from 2-5 choice Judge Bob (Victor Kirby) and edged clear from longshot Iron Mine Bro (Art Stafford, Jr.) to score by three lengths in 2:00.1. A Charlie De Vie colt trained by Chris Ryder, Chucky De Vie posted his second win in five starts and nearly doubled his earnings to $28,000 while handing Judge Bob the first defeat in his brief three-race career.

Then one race later in the second $14,000 MDRF split for two-year-old filly pacers, Act Like A Diva (Atlee Bender) unleashed a furious backside brush to gain command from Pedal Power (Stafford) and romped home six lengths clear in 1:57. A juvenile daughter of Roll With Joe trained by Erv Miller, Act Like A Diva recorded her second win from eight starts and pushed her earnings toward $20,000 while displaying tremendous quickness for a freshman filly.

Then one race later on the card, Slick Tony (Russell Foster) displayed speed and more than a hint of resiliency when he rallied along the passing lane to capture a $14,000 MDRF division for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. A juvenile son of No Spin Zone owned and trained by George "Ronnie" Leager, Slick Tony left to protect good position behind Redline Rusty (Stafford), sat a loose pocket to the half, appeared to be buried inside down the backside and through the far turn, waited for the passing lane while several foes got the jump on him through the far turn then angled inside and rallied late to edge Bo Breeze (Allan Davis) in 1:56.4.

Slick Tony has won two straight and four of five overall and he was unlucky while second in his lone defeat at the seaside oval on August 13 when he found room belatedly in the lane while facing older rivals. Slick Tony has banked $17,000 in his first five outings and previously defeated similar foes at Ocean Downs on July 31. On paper, his latest win looked like a two-hole trip, but midway on the far turn he was nearly shuffled into oblivion and almost forced to angle to the far outside before Foster waited for room along the passing lane.

Several races later in the second $14,000 MDRF split for freshman colt pacers, Lloyd's All In (Jared Moyer) lived up to his belated role as the even-money favorite when he gained command from post five, got a breather to the half in 59 flat and held safe Own It (Davis) to score by nearly two lengths in 1:57.1. A juvenile son of Rusty's All In trained by Arlene Cameron for owner Pamela Wagner, Lloyd's All In recorded his second win in seven starts and nearly doubled his earnings to $16,000.

Sandwiched between the MDRF divisions on Sunday night at Ocean Downs was a trio of very competitive overnight events for older pacers, with horse of the meet honors on the line.

In a non-winners of $5001 last five starts class, Dancing Rusty (Allan Davis) just lived up to his billing as the 4-5 favorite from the rail when he gained command from the outset and held safe 8-5 second choice White Rolls (Foster), who delivered a gritty effort from first over, to score by a neck in 1:54.4. It was the second win in the last three starts for Dancing Rusty, a nine-year-old Ponder gelding owned and trained by Basil Sapienza. White Rolls raced well in defeat and remained among the shot list of contenders for Ocean Downs horse of the meet honors this summer.

Then one race later in a non-winners of $6001 last five starts class for older pacers, Rock On Precious (Foster) lived up to his role as the even-money choice when he gained command in a 27.1 opener, shook loose from token pressure down the backside and just outlasted the late bid of the pocket-sitting Go Big Spinder (Davis) in 1:54.4. A nine-year-old Rockroll Hanover gelding owned, trained and driven by Foster, Rock On Precious recorded his fourth win in his last six starts at the meet and may have belatedly joined the discussion for horse of the meet honors. Go Big Spinder won three straight starts at one stretch during the meet for owner-trainer-breeder and petite blacksmith Virginia "Leigh" Louthan, but settled for second in a good effort.

Then in the $11,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, Ballinrobe (Davis) retook from Hickory Aloha (Timmy Offutt) before a wicked 26.4 opener, set honest fractions of 56.2 and 1:24.3 for the next two calls and just held safe 'Aloha' for a neck score in 1:53.3. Ballinrobe finished the meet with two wins and two second-place finishes in six tries in the Open, but Hickory Aloha spent the entire summer in the top class and won it three times in a dozen tries for owner-trainer Joe Offutt and looms the favorite for meet honors.