Vernon, NY --- The Kindergarten Classic Series finals for 2-year-old male and female trotters were contested on Friday night (Oct. 25) at Vernon Downs. Southwind Spirit was a winner in the $217,500 contest for the boys while Goddess captured the $206,000 finale for the girls.
Southwind Spirit was a wire-to-wire winner in the male final, scoring in a time of 1:55 over a track rated "good." Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Stable 45, Southwind Spirit is a son of Muscle Hill-Spice On Ice. The win was his sixth in 12 trips to the post, with his share of the purse lifting his 2013 bankroll to $310,925.
|Southwind Spirit (Yannick Gingras) was a wire-to-wire winner in the male final, scoring in a time of 1:55.|
Southwind Spirit ($4.20), who finished fourth in last Saturday's Breeders Crown final, was sent right to the front by driver Yannick Gingras and took the field to the opening quarter in :28.1 with Sumatra in the pocket, world champion Outburst in third and series point leader Trixton in fourth.
As the field headed to the half-mile marker in :57.2, Southwind Spirit was still comfortably in front of Sumatra, but Trxiton began to make a first over move for driver Jimmy Takter and was now third on the rim.
Trixton began to steadily gain ground on the leader down the backstretch, but went off stride just before the 1:25.1 three-quarter pole and lost all hope.
Southwind Spirit was never in danger from there and trotted a final quarter in :29.4 to reach the wire in 1:55. Outburst and driver Andrew McCarthy rallied in the lane to finish second, 1-3/4 lengths behinf the winner, while Lightning Force (John Campbell) was third. Sumatra (Andy Miller) had to settle for fourth place money.
The winner has enjoyed a steady campaign in 2013, setting his lifetime mark of 1:54.1 last month in capturing the American-National at Balmoral Park. He also picked up nice paydays with a second in the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final and a third in the $280,500 Peter Haughton Memorial.
In last week's Breeders Crown he drew post position nine and closed strongly to finish fourth, 4-1/4 lengths behind Father Patrick.
"He's a very nice horse too," said Gingras about Southwind Spirit. "He just happens to be in the same year as Father Patrick; he's a freak. Too bad for him (Southwind Spirit), but he's a very, very nice horse.
"There were a couple of tough horses in here. The horse that Andrew McCarthy was driving (Outburst) and the horse that Jimmy (Takter) was driving (Trixton) are two Grand Circuit-type horses.
"He (Southwind Spirit) did all the work tonight. The track is tiring a little bit and there is a big headwind in the stretch, but he got it done."
In the $206,000 filly division of the Kindergarten, Goddess and driver John Campbell reclaimed the lead heading to the three-quarter pole and drew off in the stretch for a 1:56.3 victory.
|Goddess and John Campbell were 1:56.3 winners in the filly final.|
The winner is a daughter of Donato Hanover-Macaria Hanover, owned by Kelley Racing Stable, Joe Sbrocco and William Weaver III. The $110,000 yearling posted her fourth win in 11 season's starts, improving her earnings to $155,825.
Campbell looked for the front end with Goddess and put her on the point just past the opening quarter in :28.1. However, their lead was short lived as Jimmy Takter moved Yoga to the front as the field hit the backstretch. Yoga was on top at the midway marker in :57.2, but Goddess was back on the move on the outside.
Goddess regained the lead heading to the 1:26 three-quarter pole, with Fashion Huntress (David Miller) making a first over bid. Yoga was back in third and Cee Bee Yes (Andy Miller) was making a second over bid in fourth.
Down the lane Goddess ($8.50) was strong and she drew away from the field to hit the finish line on top by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:56.3. Yoga rallied in the lane to finish second, while Cee Bee Yes was up for third.
"She's been racing very well," said driver John Campbell. "She raced really good there in her start back there in Lexington (an International Stallion Stake division). She was second in (1):53 and a piece. She raced good in her (Breeders Crown) elimination (in finishing third) and just had a bad post in the final (the eight hole on her way to a sixth place finish). I thought she was pretty competitive going into (tonight's) race."
Campbell discussed his strategy in reclaiming the lead down the backstretch.
"It didn't look like the fractions were going to be crazy if I got back to the front and I thought she would be able to handle that," he said. "Less things can go wrong when you're on the front.
"She's gotten better as the year has gone on. She's going to be more mature and stronger next year. I think she's got a chance to be a top five filly."
In Friday’s second session, a $10,000 Kindergarten Classic consolation clash, Starsaboveallerage also used front-striding tactics to vanquish the favored Skates N Plates by a nose in a 1:57.1 performance. It was the third win, coupled with a trio of third-place showings, in nine starts for the bay son of Angus Hall-Starry Eyed, who has banked nearly $30,000 in 2013 for Jeff Gural’s Little E LLC stable. David Miller did the teaming for local trainer Jessica Okusko
Friday’s $12,000 Open Trot was won by Grey Ice, with Dan Daley doing the piloting for trainer Guy Howard in race 10. The strong-striding 7-year-old gelding followed the pace-setting Mr Web Page throughout the mile contest, before leaving the pocket in the stretch and spurting to a nose triumph over the mile cutter. The tight tally was the third locally, the seventh this season and the 23rd all-time for the gray son of The Icepan Cometh-The E Street Pan, who bumped her lifetime winnings to $197,272 for the Howard Stables.
Fans were treated to triples by drivers John Campbell, David Miller and trainer Paul Kelley, as well as a two-win effort by Yannick Gingras during Friday’s 12-race program.
-- Jim Moran also contributed to this report