Jimmy Takter trainee French Laundry ($2.50) proved a convincing winner in his $10,000 Kindergarten Classic preliminary at Tioga Downs on Sunday (August 24) afternoon, as did other odds-on favorites Wheels Ah Smokin ($2.10) and Bee the Queen ($3.00) in their respective races.
However, freshman trotting filly Mission Brief, sent off at 1-20 after her dominant Merrie Annabelle win at the Meadowlands three weeks ago, faltered in her Kindergarten Classic event, enabling Lady Clarabella to score a 22-1 upset.
French Laundry, sent off the 1-4 favorite in the sixth race for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, wasted no time asserting himself on the lead. He forced Party on the River (Tyler Buter) into the pocket on the first turn, rated a 1:00.2 half mile, and sprinted clear upon facing late pressure from the first-over SS Poseidon (Marcus Miller). The son of Muscles Yankee kicked clear to a 2-1/2 length win in rein to Yannick Gingras, besting SS Poseidon and RG's Thunderbolt (Jim Marohn, Jr.) in 1:57.1.
The fourth race was the earlier colt division of the Kindergarten, with Chuck Sylvester trainee Wheels Ah Smokin (David Miller) repelling a late challenge from Lucky Ten K (Chris Lems), sprinting clear to a 3-1/2 length win in 1:57.3.
Fillies contested their pair of $10,000 divisions in races eight and ten, with Bee the Queen (Chris Lems) never looking back off an early brush to the fore, edging clear of Fashion Gab Alot (Scott Zeron) by 2-3/4 lengths for a 1:57.3 win in the eight race. George Ducharme trains the Donato Hanover filly.
While three of four odds-on favorites had no trouble in their respective victories, Merrie Annabelle winner Mission Brief (Yannick Gingras) was a victim of multiple breaks in the tenth race, faltering on the first turn after lagging the gate by three lengths. Josie's Joy (Tyler Buter) assumed the early pacesetting duties, controlling a :58.2 half mile while under no pressure. While eventual winner Lady Clarabella (David Miller) commenced her first-over bid into the far turn, Mission Brief had caught the field, closing ferociously through the middle half. Unfortunately for those backing the prohibitive favorite, the daughter of Muscle Hill broke again at the top of the stretch while the Randy Beeckman-trained Lady Clarabella pushed clear of Josie's Joy to win by 2-1/4 length in 1:57.3. Josie's Joy held second, while Cocoacabana (Jacqueline Ingrassia) stayed on for third after tracking the winner's cover.
Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (August 29) evening, with first post set for 6:15 p.m. EDT. (Tioga)