The Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile is behind us, and it was a classic. Whether you privilege the breathtaking speed embodied in Always B Miki’s 1:46 world record win in the Allerage Open or the historical significance of the triumph by Marion Marauder in the Kentucky Futurity that capped the first Triple Crown season in a decade, nobody can cite a lack of drama.
As one might expect, Muscle Hill and Somebeachsomewhere, the dominant forces at the Lexington Selected Sale that paralleled the meet, also rode roughshod over the competition on the track. Muscle Hill’s progeny won eight stakes races/eliminations, while SBSW’s get won 15 of the same. This is in addition to the success they had in the late closers that filled out the cards. Muscle Massive and Donato Hanover were second to Muscle Hill with four stakes wins each, while Art Major played second fiddle to SBSW, also with four.
Appropriately enough, Marion Marauder, our new Trotting Triple Crown winner, is a son of Muscle Hill. He won for Scott Zeron and the extended Wellwood family. This was the young stallions first Kentucky Futurity credit.
The new speed king, Always B Miki, who won for David Miller and Jimmy Takter, is by the 12-year-old Indiana sire Always A Virgin, a successful regional stallion who has had limited exposure to the Grand Circuit. Miki broke the 1:46.4 race record shared by He’s Watching, Holborn Hanover, SBSW and Warrawee Needy as well as Cambest’s 23-year-old 1:46.1 time trial mark.
Tim Tetrick won the most races at the meet: nine stakes and eight late closers. His most impressive win was Thursday’s 1:51.3 world record score by the impressive Chapter Seven freshman Walner for Linda Toscano and Ken Jacobs. This was only his fifth start, after taking two in the NYSS and a Kindergarten leg. He knocked a tick off of Southwind Frank’s 2015 mark. This colt is trending straight up. What Frank was to the 2015 meet, Walner was to this one.
David Miller, who laid the foundation for his 2015 Driver of the Year award with a big closing day at last year’s Red Mile meet, may have done the same on Sunday with wins behind Darlinonthebeach in the Garnsey, Broadway Donna in the Filly Futurity and Always B Miki in the Allerage. Overall, he was second to Tetrick with seven stakes wins, in addition to scoring in a pair of late closers. Last year he sealed the deal with five wins on the Breeders Crown program at Woodbine two weeks after the Red Mile meet. Whether he recreates that feet at The Meadowlands this year or not, his numbers, in a season where he took the winter off, combined with the quality of his wins, make him the favorite to repeat as DOY.
Andy Miller won five stakes, four of them for his wife Julie and one for Ross Croghan, as well as one late closer. Yannick Gingras also won five stakes, just as he did last year, but was blanked in the late closers this time.
Corey Callahan, Brett Miller and Marcus Miller each had four stakes wins. The latter won three splits of the ISS on Saturday, all for his dad, with two of them, the SBSW filly Zane Hanover and the Art Major colt Chip Walther, paying $189.80 and $84.80, respectively. Ake Svanstedt, Charlie Norris and Scott Zeron each had three stakes wins, with the latter also taking four late closers.
Jimmy Takter topped all trainers with eight stakes wins, including that record mile by Always B Miki. Just as David Miller is primed to once again overcome Yannick’s earnings lead in the DOY contest, Takter may again overcome Ron Burke’s huge plurality in wins and money in the TOY race.
Ron Burke had five stakes wins, including an upset in a Tattersalls split by the 20/1 Art Major colt Stolen Glimpse for Brian Sears. Last year Burke only won four of the high-dollar races, but he had eight second place finishes in them. On Sunday his Crazy Wow was second in the Allerage Open at 13/1, while Big Top Hanover was second in the Tattersalls Pace at 28/1. And Southwind Frank was nosed out by Marion Marauder in the Futurity. So the money was still rolling in.
Julie Miller, Ake Svanstedt and Erv Miller each had four stakes wins, while Charlie Norris and Jim Campbell won three apiece.
Tony Alagna, who had 5 stakes wins last year, including the Tattersalls Pace with Artspeak, had only 2 this time, although he did win 6 late closers.
54% of the stakes winners were bred in Pennsylvania, while 21% were from New York and 16% from New Jersey. Most of the latter are by Muscle Hill, who now stands in PA, and that must be taken into consideration. Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Ontario had one each, and one was by the French stallion, Love You. The Ontario SS Super Finals take place over the weekend so participation by that sector in Lexington is minimal.
On the trotting side, there were eight for Muscle Hill, four each for Donato Hanover and Muscle Massive, three each for Cantab Hall and Credit winner, two for Andover Hall and the rest with one apiece. In 2015 Cantab Hall had 5 wins to 3 for Muscle Hill. As was the case this year three-quarters of the trot wins went to PA stallions.
Somebeachsomewhere’s domination was more extreme than that of Muscle Hill. His progeny won 15 high-dollar stakes to four for Art Major and one each for all the rest. That amounts to a ridiculous 55% win rate for the 11-year-old son of Mach Three. This served as a marked contrast to last year when SBSW’s get had only three wins and New York pacing stallions dominated Pennsylvania by an 11 to 6 margin.
American Ideal had no stakes credits this year, after accumulating four in 2015.
Lots of juicy payoffs, aside from the pair from Marcus Miller and one from Sears/Burke already mentioned. The Crazed colt Shake It Off Lindy paid $29.60 for Tetrick and Antonacci in a Bluegrass split; the Yankee Glide filly Overdraft Volo paid $49.20 in another Bluegrass split for Andy and Julie Miller; the RNR Heaven colt Rock The Boat paid $38.20 in a Bluegrass division; the Credit Winner filly Bankette paid $73.60 for David Miller in a LC; the Donato filly Temple Ruins paid $30.60 in an ISS split for Brian Sears; and Gingras’ Cantab Hall filly Dancing IN TheHall paid $98.60 in a Filly Futurity elimination….
The most interesting winner was the Florida bred sophomore filly pacer Prairie Sweetheart, who was supplemented to the Allerage Mare and smoked her more accomplished foes in 1:49.1 for Matt Kakaley and Ross Croghan. Her sire, Royal Millennium, is an obscure 17-year-old son of Run The Table, whose granddam is a full sister to the great Sonsam. Prairie Sweetheart has won all 12 lifetime starts.
There were some short fields, the Allerage Mare Trot had to be cancelled due to a lack of entries, and there was some wind and rain to contend with, but on the whole the record setting numbers at the sale were mirrored by some of the same on the track.