Check Me Out obliterated the world record for 3-year-old trotting fillies on a five-eighths mile track when she cruised to a 1:51.3 victory in her $200,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes (PASS) Championship Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, the highlight of Championship Night for the state-sired sophomores.
The daughter of Donato Hanover reached the lead nearing the quarter from post six for trainer-driver Ray Schnittker and put up splits of :27.3, :55.2 and 1:23 while looking comfortable and confident. Superstar Hanover maintained valiant contact from the pocket, and Maven started her patented grind at the five-eighths, but neither could approach the winner of $2.7 million, with the final clocking breaking the world record shared by Hidden Viggorish (in a PASS final) and Holier Than Thou (set at Pocono earlier this year) by an amazing 1 3/5 seconds. Maven was up for second late over Superstar Hanover.
"She was good at the gate, and once we made the top I was very confident," noted Schnittker, co-owner with Charles Iannazzo, after the race. "Very strong throughout," he continued, adding that her next start would be at Lexington.
The Western Terror filly Economy Terror set a world record in winning her pacing fillies Championship last year, held at Pocono, and the return to "home cookin'” (trainer Chris Oakes is based at the mountain track) provided "déjà vu all over again” – another world record, this time in 1:49, a tick better than place finisher's Big McDeal's seven-week-old mark, and the fastest PASS Championship ever (spoiler alert: tied by Dapper Dude two races later.)
After a contentious :25.4 opener, "Super Sire Stakes Finals driver” Dave Palone (he's won 25 the last 10-plus years; his nearest competitor has seven) guided his filly to the command position, and later spoke of the middle splits of :54 and 1:21.3 as "actually a good breather for her.” The afterburners kicked in approaching headstretch, however, as Economy Terror opened wide daylight to become only the fifth 2YO-3YO Sire Stakes "repeater” in modern times (all fillies, and all but one pacers). Chuck Pompey, Howard Taylor, and Ed Gold saw their 2011 divisional champion surpass $1.2 million in earnings.
Dapper Dude, just a half-length off in the North America Cup, easily caught defending champion Sweet Lou in the stretch while taking the colt pace in 1:49 – a personal mark, and equaling the newly-minted mark of Economy Terror as the quickest in Sire Stakes Championship history.
Sweet Lou got to the half in a mild :55, but then was forced to pace a :26.1 backside to keep out first-over Easy Again–a speed which allowed driver Jim Morrill Jr. to drop the second-over "Dude” into a gaping pocket nearing the three-quarters. With the breather around the turn, Dapper Dude easily picked up Sweet Lou late, with DD's earnings now over $550,000 for trainer Bob McIntosh, co-owner with Al McIntosh Holdings Inc.
An alert drive by Eric Goodell was the key to the victory of Magic Tonight as the Andover Hall colt notched the other trotting event in 1:54, a stakes record. Goodell left for the top and yielded, then made another move when he saw favored My MVP forward-bound and yielded for the two hole behind the chalk. The Pocono Pike then provided the passage to victory for Magic Tonight, a tough second to Hambo winner Market Share at Vernon last week, as he pushed his earnings over $430,000 for trainer Noel Daley and owner Adam Victor & Son LLC. Magic Tonight was also the only outright preliminary pointleader to take a Championship (Economy Terror was co-leader in her section). (Pocono)