A total of 52 freshman filly trotters will make their Pennsylvania Sires Stakes debut Friday evening at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Add to that the 37 two-year-old filly trotters who competed in Wednesday's PA Stallions Series at The Meadows and you have one of the most robust, promising classes of youngsters ever seen in the Commonwealth, or anywhere else in harness racing.
Quality likely will be on display as well, as top trainers are sending well-bred babies after a total of $247,481 in purses. Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and Jim Campbell will be represented by six fillies each while Julie Miller sends out four. Ake Svanstedt, conditioner of leading Horse of the Year candidate Sebastian K, has a pair in Friday's PASS.
First post Friday is 6:55 p.m., with the stake contested over seven divisions.
Campbell was reluctant to over-praise his sextet — five of them owned by Jules Siegel's Fashion Farms — but conceded that he and Siegel are excited about their prospects.
"Some of them are coming off one baby race,” Campbell noted, "but we're coming out there, so we decided to bring them all. They're just getting started. We put too much pressure on these horses right from the word go. They need a little time to find their way and develop. Once you get into August, they'll separate themselves.”
Among the most noteworthy from Fashion Farms is Fashion Voyager, a full sister to world champion Pilgrims Taj (Broadway Hall-BWT Maija), who opened her career in hopples with a handy PA All Stars win. She goes in Race 2 from post 7 with John Campbell piloting.
"She did it very easily,” Jim Campbell said. "She's done everything that we've asked of her so far.”
Also of interest from the Campbell group is Onda Di Mare, a daughter of Yankee Glide-Upfront OB's Janet who captured her PA All Stars split in 1:56.3 while taking air down the backside. Tim Tetrick will guide her from post 3 in Race 10.
Takter, whose ownership groups have the resources to patronize any stallions they choose, will send out fillies from six different stallions — Andover Hall, Broadway Hall, Cantab Hall, Donato Hanover, Explosive Matter, Muscle Massive — an indication of the strength of Pennsylvania's ranks and Takter's emphases in selecting yearlings.
"I try to buy the horses we like,” Takter said. "The sire is not the number one priority; the maternal line is number one. And you have to find out which are the best crosses.”
Among his six-pack, Takter cited Sarcy, who was beaten a neck in her PA All Stars split after being roughed up the first quarter.
"I really like her, but she's in a very tough division,” he said. "She's a nice, quick little thing. At Pocono, it was a sprint, and she couldn't get to the horse in front of her.”
Yannick Gingras drives Sarcy (Donato Hanover-Southwind Allaire) from post 2 in Race 2 for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding and Jim Fielding.
During Friday's card, The Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association will present "Back to the Track,” an industry-wide celebration of the joys of harness racing. Activities include:
Family Fun Night, featuring a bounce house/inflatable side, airbrush and balloon artists and a petting zoo;