Stakes highlight Wednesday card at Penn National
On the night before Thanksgiving, thoroughbred racing fans were treated to a trio of stakes races at Penn National. But the best performance of the night did not occur in the feature.
Roughly a month after finishing third in the Grade I Breeders Cup Sprint behind Runhappy and Private Zone, Favorite Tale was made the 1-2 favorite in the $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap against a modest field that included two-time defending champion Ben's Cat.
When the gate opened in the Fabulous Strike, Favorite Tale broke best of all to gain command down the backside and led the field through the far turn on a clear lead, although he was under some encouragement approaching the quarter pole.
Favorite Tale maintained a clear lead at the top of the lane and held sway late to score in 1:11 flat. Previously the hero of the Grade II Smile Sprint Hcp at Gulfstream Park, Favorite Tale capped his four-year-old season in style for trainer Guadalupe Preciado and owner-breeder Paul Connaway.
One race earlier on the card, Page McKenny rallied from mid pack to capture the $100,000 Swatara Stakes as the 3-2 favorite. Trained by Mary Eppler, Page McKenny notched his fifth stakes win of the season and pushed his earnings to nearly $600,000 this year.
But one race earlier on the card, Behrnik's Bank gained command soon after the start and simply galloped home 12 lengths clear in 1:10.22 in the $75,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies.
A homebred two-year-old daughter of Bank Heist, Behrnik's Bank notched her second win in as many starts and posted a faster clocking than Favorite Tale - a Grade II winning older horse - despite never being asked.
While Favorite Tale, Page McKenny and Dame Dorothy will vie for Pennsylvania-bred horse of the year in 2015, Behrnik's Bank emerged as the rising star on the evening and will likely stake her claim to a PA-bred title in the years to come.