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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

PASS Championship From the Perspective of the Stallions

Over the weekend the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program handed out more than $2.5 million dollars in purse money at Pocono Downs and Harrah’s Philadelphia. The Championship Final in each division carried a $260,000 purse while the consolation races were $50,000 each. The finals for the lower level tiers of the program are held separately.

How successful the offspring of a particular stallion are in these capstone races won’t make or break him, but it’s fair to expect high-dollar sires to show something. Muscle Hill, whose get won’t be eligible to the Pennsylvania program until 2017, is the most expensive trotting stallion at $25,000, but Cantab Hall, at $20,000, was the priciest in play on the trotting side Saturday and Sunday. And he was absolutely outstanding, sweeping all four $260,000 finals for trotters with Wild Honey, Billy Flynn, Lifetime Pursuit and Father Patrick. And as if that wasn’t enough, the gelding Uva Hanover won the consolation race for sophomore trotters. Muscle Hill is the only one in the conversation with 13-year-old Cantab Hall.

Actually the most expensive stallion in Pennsylvania is Somebeachsomewhere at $30,000. His precocious freshman daughter Southwind Roulette was the only one to win a final. Limelight Beach was second to McWicked in the 3-year-old colt division, also for Gingras and Burke, and Beach Gal finished third in the final for sophomore pacing fillies. Also, Somestarsomewhere won his consolation for Gingras and Burke at 15-1, and Some Playa was third in that race. Undefeated Sandbetweenurtoes was swallowed up down the stretch in her final. Nothing to crow about. A single divisional win makes this was a disappointing weekend for the most expensive stallion in the sport.

Donato Hanover stands at Hanover for $15,000, down from the original $20,000. The ten-year-old’s sixth crop is racing this year. And while he has been much better at producing productive fillies to this point, he showed a little more balance in the sire stakes finals. His freshman son Honor And Serve finished second to Billy Flynn while Don Dorado followed Father Patrick and Nuncio home. On the distaff side, Simcoe winner Designed To Be chased certified beast Lifetime Pursuit home. Shake It Cerry, who won the Zweig Filly last week, was second in points but did not participate. And Uncle Lasse, who won a split of the Wellwood the other night, only made two starts in the program and was short points.

Donato is still deficient when it comes to high profile males. When Your So Vain won the Hambletonion Maturity for Ake Svanstedt it looked like he might fill the bill, but he’s only started twice since, both losing efforts. Winless at the finals isn’t good enough for Donato.

Well Said is Donato’s opposite number at Hanover; the $15,000 pacing stallion. To be fair, he was missing some of his better players: Tellitlikeitis; Uffizi Hanover; Lyons Levi Lewis, who won a split of the Champlain Saturday; and Shakai Hanover, who finished second to Happy Becky in the Champlain.  

Well Said’s only win came in the 3-year-old filly Pace consolation, where Katie Said beat Gallie Bythe Beach and Tyra for Marcus Miller. Beyond that, Well Hello There was third behind Southwind Roulette in the 2-year-old filly final and Sometimes Said was third behind McWicked. Talking Points and Kingofthejungle also delivered seconds in the consolation round.

Well Said has good overall numbers, but he needs some marquee performers. Tellitlikeitis has won a lot of money but a win in a NA Cup elimination won’t get it done. And Uffizi Hanover won the Fan Hanover as well as last year’s Breeders Crown, but she’s inconsistent.

Andover Hall, who stands for ten at Hanover, saw Svanstedt’s Highest Peak win a 3-year-old filly consolation for Tetrick and Bright Baby Blues finish second in the 2-year-old filly trot. Also, Nuncio, who doesn’t have high profile wins but is sixth overall in the sport in earnings, finished second to stablemate Father Patrick in the 3-year-old colt final. That and Spider Blue Chip won’t get you much.

Western Terror is a gynocentric stallion with little to show on the male side, but 2-year-old Tommy Terror has been one of the top colts in the PASS program. He pressed kingpin Yankee Bounty through the stretch and only lost by a nose. And the 3-year-old pacing filly, Also Encouraging, finished second to Weeper in their $260,000 final. Another filly, Safe From Terror, was second in her consolation. Pretty good considering how unpopular he’s been at the sales.

There were some solid results from the Pennsylvania diaspora. Yankee Cruiser, who now resides in Ohio, was well represented by undefeated phenom, Yankee Bounty. While McArdle, another Ohio transplant, saw McWicked win the 3-year-old colt final, and his offspring took both pacing consolations with Macarena Mama and McCito. And Tyra was third in hers.

 Dragon Again’s Kay’s Dragon Lady was second to Southwind Roulette, while Rich Wisdom was third in a consolation.

This is McArdle’s second year in Ohio and it’s the first for Yankee Cruiser and Dragon Again. This year’s yearlings will be PA eligible in 2015, but the real value of their successes in the finals will be to Ohio breeders.

So, on the trotting side Cantab Hall took all the oxygen; it was impossible for anyone else to have a very good night. Imagine what it will be like in 2017 when the Muscle Hill’s join the battle for PASS money. And on the pacing side, Southwind Roulette was very impressive, but more is expected of SBSW. His 2-year-old crop was very small. Is that the problem? Many have tried out for the part of successor to Captain T, but none have earned the role.

Joe FitzGerald

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