On the day when millions of Americans across the country were hitting the highways or airports to travel to various Thanksgiving Day destinations, Dover Downs, Penn National and Zia Park all offered plenty of lucrative stakes on Wednesday when most racing fans are accustomed to seeing claimers and career maidens compete.
During a stakes-filled card at Zia Park, Motion Emotion and Mr. Money Bags both earned narrow victories as the post time choice in the Zia Park Oaks and Zia Park Derby, respectively. Motion Emotion scored as the 1-5 favorite over 9-5 second choice Call Moon Bay in the Oaks in 1:44.40 for one-mile and one-sixteenth then Mr. Money Bags outfought Dueling to score by a similar margin in 1:44.04 in the Zia Park Derby for sophomore colts several races later. It was the sixth win in nine starts this year for Mr. Money Bags, who now owns seven wins in 10 career tries.
That same evening at Penn National Race Course where three of the first four races on the card were stakes, Firenze Fire easily lived up to his role as the 1-5 favorite in the $200,000 Fabulous Strike Stakes for older sprinters when he bided his time down the backside, swept to command turning for home then drew clear in the lane to a four-length score under mild urging to stop the timer in 1:09.33 for the six furlongs.
A son of Poseidon’s Warrior trained by Jason Servis, Firenze Fire recorded his second win in eight starts this year and pushed his seasonal earnings past $500,000. Having exited five straight Grade I events, including the Breeders Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, Firenze Fire scored as the overwhelming favorite and class of the field by posting his eighth win in 22 career tries and pushing his lifetime bankroll past $1.6 million. He was fifth in the Breeders Cup Spring following a pair of runner-up efforts in Grade I events for Servis.
The other two stakes on the card were also won by the Servis brothers. Jason Servis sent out Monongahela to capture the $100,000 Swatara Stakes as the 5-2 favorite by getting the one-mile and one-sixteenth event in 1:43.01. His brother, John Servis, saddled Precious to score as the 3-1 third choice in the $100,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies Stakes for Pennsylvania-breds when she rallied inside to score in 1:11.48 for her second win in as many starts.
Further south and east at Dover Downs, Shake That House (Tim Tetrick) benefited from a lively tempo up front carved out by 3-5 choice Captain Crunch (Yannick Gingras) and a second over journey behind Breeders Crown hero Dancin Lou to forge a 9-1 upset in 1:50.1. Trained by Chris Oakes of Split The House fame, Shake That House recorded his seventh win in 17 starts this year and pushed his seasonal earnings toward $600,000. Captain Crunch settled for second and now owns a 6-3-3 slate and $950,000 banked from 16 starts this year. He will likely finish a distant second behind Bettor’s Wish in the voting for champion three-year-old colt pacer for 2019.