Less than an hour after Tapwrit edged Irish War Cry to capture the 149th edition of the Belmont Stakes on a stellar card at Belmont Park, Mohawk Racetrack in Canada hosted numerous elimination divisions of various stakes with berths for spots in lucrative stakes next weekend.
In the second race on the card, the first elimination of the Roses Are Red for pacing fillies and mares, Frost Damage Blues (Jim Macdonald) benefited from a second over trip and outlasted the late bid of Pure Country (Brett Miller) to score by a length in 1:50.1. A five-year-old Western Ideal mare trained by Tom Fanning, Frost Damage Blues notched her second win from four starts this year to earn a spot in the $375,000 final next weekend along with Pure Country, the champion two- and three-year-old filly pacer champ who is still in quest of her first win this season.
Then one race later in the first North America Cup elimination for three-year-old pacing colts, Downbytheseaside (David Miller) maintained the perfect start to his campaign when he brushed to command past the half, opened a clear lead on the far turn and held sway through the lane under modest urging from Miller. A sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Brian Brown, Downbytheseaside arrived as the top horse in the Hambletonian Society National Top 10 poll and did little to damage his reputation after prevailing for the fourth time in as many starts this year in 1:50.4.
Then two races later on the card, Idlyllic Beach (Yannick Gingras) overcame a first over bid to score by two lengths as the 3-5 favorite in the first elimination of the Fan Hanover elimination for three-year-old pacing fillies. A sophomore daughter of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Jimmy Takter, Idyllic Beach recorded her second win in as many starts this year and now owns 10 wins in 16 career tries and will be among the favorites for next week’s lucrative final. Longshot Al Mar Got A Fever edged Roaring To Go for the place spot.
Then one race later in the second Roses Are Red elimination, Nike Franco N (Tim Tetrick) lived up to her role as the 4-5 favorite when she tucked third, brushed to command before the half and then edged clear from Call Me Queen Be and Penpal in the lane to score by two lengths in 1:49.2. A seven-year-old McArdle mare trained by Jo Ann Looney-King, Nike Franco N notched her third win in six starts this year and looms a serious player in the final after finishing second to division leader Lady Shadow in the $150,000 Betsy Ross at Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Then one race later in the second Fan Hanover elimination for three-year-old pacing fillies, Tequila Monday (Brian Sears) maintained the sharp start to her sophomore campaign when she rallied second over and widest of all to score by two lengths in 1:50.4. A Maryland-bred daughter of American Ideal trained by Chris Oakes, Tequila Monday notched her third win from five starts this year and her seventh win from 10 career tries and heads into the Fan Hanover final as the likely favorite with the Lismore final at Yonkers already under her belt.
Then one race later in the second North America Cup elimination, Huntsville (Tetrick) easily lived up to his role as the 1-9 favorite when he brushed to command before the half in 55.2 and then drew clear from his foes in the lane despite drifting out considerably to a four-length score in 1:49.1. Another sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Ran Schnittker, Huntsville notched his third win in four starts this year and last year’s champion two-year-old now sports 10 wins in 15 career outings and my usurp Downbytheseaside for the favorite’s role in the NA Cup final. Maryland-bred Classic Pro rallied for the place spot to reach the final.
Then one race later in the third North America Cup elim, 1-5 choice Fear The Dragon (David Miller) appeared home free until 100 yards from the wire when he broke stride and veered out sharply and then just got back on stride before the wire and held on for a length score in 1:50. A Dragon Again colt trained by Brian Brown, Fear The Dragon remained perfect in five starts this year after surviving a late gallop and an inquiry, but will likely not be Miller’s choice for the final.
Then one race later in the third Roses Are Red elimination, Lady Shadow (Gingras) overcame a long first over bid into a fast back half to prevail by a half-length over Wrangler Magic (L.P. Roy) as the 1-9 favorite in 1:50.2. A six-year-old Shadow Play mare trained by Ronald Adams, Lady Shadow has won all three of her starts this year and 15 of her last 23 outings and looks poised to successfully defend her title as champion aged pacing mare and Maryland-bred horse of the year although Tequila Monday probably wants to join the discussion for the latter.
That same evening at Pocono Downs, Rockeyed Optimist (Jason Bartlett) maintained his razor sharp form when he brushed to command before the half and then edged clear in the lane to a three-length score in 1:49.1 in a non-winners of $22,500 last five starts class. A six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Steve Elliott, Rockeyed Optimist notched his second straight score and his fourth win in eight starts this year and recorded the 30th victory of 62 career tries.
Then just past the midway point of the Pocono Downs card, Blood Brother (Bartlett) lived up to his role as the 1-5 favorite in the “Winners Over” class when he brushed to command before the half and then just outlasted the late bids of Dream Out Loud N and Betting Exchange to score in 1:50.1. A five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding trained by Richard Banca, Blood Brother now owns a 4-5-3 slate and $162,000 banked from 18 starts this year and may have won the pacing feature on the card but he was hardly the most impressive winner there on Saturday night.
Also that same evening at Scioto Downs, a five-eighths mile oval in Ohio, Crazy Wow maintained his sharp form when he overcame post eight to gain command from Obrigado and led throughout to score by two lengths in 1:52 in the $200,000 Hill Memorial. The Ron Burke trainee was among the top sophomore trotting colts in the land two years ago, tailed off form last year at age four but has bounced back with a vengeance during a five-year-old campaign in which he already boasts a victory in the $150,000 Maxie Lee at Harrah’s Philadelphia.