The 2011 Breeders Crown 2-Year-Old Colt Trot champion Uncle Peter was successful in his sophomore debut in the last of three divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes (PASS) Wednesday afternoon at The Meadows, but his effort was overshadowed by a sizzling stakes and track record score by Magic Tonight in the second split. While those two winners were the bettors' choice, My MVP scored an 8-1 upset in the opening division.
In the second $91,370 PASS division, Magic Tonight, driven by Ron Pierce, got away third and was content in that spot as Money On My Mind and driver Andy Miller battled for the front with the Jimmy Takter-driven Nothing But Class through a :26.4 quarter. Nothing But Class finally cleared but Pierce tipped Magic Tonight to the outside shortly past the :56 half and came up first-over.
The 3-5 favored Magic Tonight was relentless in his pursuit and past the 1:24.2 three quarters he cleared to the lead. Trotting a final quarter of :28.2, Magic Tonight drew away by open lengths over runner-up Money On My Mind to score in 1:52.4, equaling Encore Encore's track and stakes record and missing the world mark by just two-fifths of a second. Frost Bites K finished third.
A son of Andover Hall, Magic Tonight is trained at The Meadows by Mike Vanderkemp. A $55,000 yearling purchase by Adam Victor & Son Stable, Magic Tonight is now a five-time winner in 10 career starts.
"They’ve been telling me all along this is a very special horse,” Pierce said. "He really didn’t show it to me until today. Coming first over didn’t bother him a bit. When I asked him to go a little bit, he went a lot.”
Vanderkemp said Magic Tonight will be pointed to the Earl Beal at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
"He’s always shown a lot of potential,” Vanderkemp said, " but he’s had some soundness issues, mainly with his feet. He seems to like the bar shoes we put on him.”
In the last $91,770 PASS division, Uncle Peter, who came into the race off a pair of winning qualifying efforts at the Meadowlands, had Pierce in the sulky for the first time for trainer Takter. Sent off the 3-5 favorite, Uncle Peter got away fourth but was angled to the outside approaching the halfway point. Racing first-over from there, Uncle Peter took aim at the leading Stormin Normand and driver Dave Palone at the top of the stretch and a game effort down the lane paid off with the career-best 1:53.4 victory. Mr. Ridgetaker was third while Top Billing, a strong second choice in the wagering with driver Andy Miller, recovered from a break behind the gate to finish fourth.
A $60,000 yearling purchase, Uncle Peter is owned by Christina Takter, John FIelding and Falkbolagen Ab. The son of Cantab Hall won four of six starts last year, including his season-ending Crown score at Woodbine in late October.
Uncle Peter’s performance drew high praise from Jimmy Takter. "I think he’s the best colt I’ve ever had,” said Takter, a Hall of Famer who has conditioned many top colts. "He’s a little goofy on the farm. He sees ghosts and jumps at them. That’s how he was injured. But on the track, he doesn’t get tired. This horse is unique. He’s the real deal.”
My MVP got away second for driver Mike Lachance in the $91,370 PASS opener behind even-money second-choice Beer Summit and Pierce and turning for home was third as the 3-5 Solvato had the lead for Trond Smedshammer. But My MVP showed no respect for the favorites as Lachance found plenty of room to move his charge up the passing lane to secure the 1:55.1 victory. Beer Summit was second with Solvato third.
A son of Cantab Hall purchased for $85,000 as a yearling, My MVP is owned by Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco and Modern Family Partners. Trained by Tony Alagna, My MVP won just once in five starts last year and is already a two-time winner in 2012 following his lifetime-best effort on Wednesday afternoon.
"I knew I had to get him out of the gate this time,” Lachance said. "That helps him a lot. He’s kind of a lazy horse who does only what you ask him to do. But he’s safe-gaited, and he’s been improving every start. He’s not a bad colt, for sure.” (with files from The Meadows)