Maryland-breds Take Center Stage

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Ted Black

July 5th, 2017

On Sunday and Monday evenings Ocean Downs offered nearly a dozen Maryland Standardbred Race Fund events for three-year-old trotters and pacers in the wake of Saturday night's Sun Stakes card at Pocono Downs where one Maryland-bred trotter perhaps ascended to the head of the class nationally.

Monday evening's pair of $12,500 MDRF splits for three-year-old pacing colts were captured in almost identical clockings by Bags To Riches (Corey Callahan) and River's Crest (Art Stafford, Jr.), a pair of sophomores who will look to enhance their bankrolls considerably in the $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund final for their age, gait and gender on the lucrative Governor's Day card at Harrington Raceway on July 27.

In the pair of MDRF events for three-year-old colt trotters, Hybrid Henry (Russell Foster) won in 1:59.2, while Command The Fire prevailed in a modest 2:01.4. Holy Trout (Roger Plante, Jr.) continued her dominance of the sophomore filly trotters when scored as the even-money choice over Spoonful (Corey Callahan), the stronger half of the Les Givens-trained entry.

On Sunday night it was Ideal In Cash (Jonathan Roberts) who posted a mild 5-1 upset in the first division of the tri-split MDRF events for three-year-old filly pacers in 1:58.2. Lunar Phase (Stafford), who also seems destined for the DSBF final on Governor's Day for trainer William "Doc" Moffett and owner F. Wyatt Starkey, cruised to a three-length score in 1:55.1 and Free Flight Fran (Allan Davis) led throughout to avoid a breaker on the first turn and just lasted as the 1-5 favorite in 1:57.3 in the last split.

Maryland-breds may have earned their share of the spotlight on Sunday and Monday evening at Ocean Downs in the Free State, but the best performance by a Maryland-bred trotter last weekend was clearly delivered by Devious Man (Andy Miller) when he posted a 15-1 upset in the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for sophomore trotting colts on the lucrative Sun Stakes card at Pocono Downs on Saturday night.

Devious Man had previously won the $250,000 Empire Breeders Classic by three lengths at Vernon Downs, but he had faded to second as the 2-5 choice in his Beal elim in the weakest of the three elim splits one week before the final. But post seven and the presence of Long Tom (Tim Tetrick) and filly star Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) did not impress the Maryland-bred son of Credit Winner, who gained command early, yielded to Long Tom before the half, sat a tight pocket with the filly looming first over then surged through along the passing lane to score by just over a length in 1:52.4.

Devious Man has won four of five starts this year and now looms one of the serious contenders for the sport's top prize later this summer, the Grade I, $1.5 million Hambletonian at The Meadowlands. Devious Man will be looking to join a growing list of Maryland-breds that includes Vivid Photo, Muscles Yankee, Yankee Paco and Muscle Hill that have already earned Hambo glory and the early start to his sophomore campaign certainly suggests that he will be a major factor in that event.