Brian Sears rallied Major Athens (pictured, #6) off a fourth-over trip around the final turn to win the first of four $101,000 divisions of the Bluegrass for 2-year-old colt trotters Friday night at The Red Mile. Major Athens was timed in 1:56.3 over a "good" racetrack softened up by periods of rain throughout the day.
Vibe Blue Chip and Yannick Gingras led through opening-half fractions of :29.3 and :58.3 before Tyler Smith and Mystical Dew ranged up first-over before clearing past the 1:27.3 three-quarters. Sears had most of the field in front of him around the turn and he was in the outer flow but he was able to direct his charge wide and on to the victory.
A homebred son of Andover owned by Tom Brice and Charles Receski, Major Athens won for the seventh time in 10 starts this year, including a career-best 1:55 effort in winning a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes contest at Harrah's Philadelphia. He also finished second in the $200,000 PASS final. Friday night's win boosted his earnings past the $300,000 mark.
All Laid Out scored an 11-1 upset in the second split as James Rattray came from far back with the son of Yankee Glide for the 1:57.1 victory. Finishing second was My Man Can and Andy Miller, with Fashion Blizzard and Jim Morrill Jr. third.
All Laid Out is owned by trainer Noel Daley, who purchased the colt for $32,000 as a yearling. Rattray is assistant trainer in the Daley stable. The colt had just one win and one second in three attempts coming into the race, with that lone score coming in a Kindergarten division two weeks ago at The Red Mile. The Bluegrass score increased his earnings to $57,875.
The third division went to Creatine, who parlayed good early position from driver Mike Lachance into a career-best 1:57.1 victory. Broadway Prince, who took a short stretch lead for Rattray, held for second, with longshot Your So Vain and Tim Tetrick third.
A homebred son of Andover Hall owned by Diamond Creek Farms, Creatine is trained by Bob Stewart. Creatine came into the race with just $5,900 in earnings but comes out of it $50,500 richer.
"When the divisions came out and he drew the two hole, I thought he had a good chance, " said Stewart. "He raced very competitively with the Kindergarten horses and the Kindergarten horses are very similar to the Grand Circuit horses."
Punxsutawney was settled in fourth early by driver Tetrick as first Amalfi Coast and Hall Of Muscles traded the lead, but then he was able to angle to the outside for a second-over trip and eventually rush past Deadliest Catch and John Duer to win the fourth division in 1:57.2. Crazy About Pat was third for David Miller.
Trained by John Butenschoen and owned by Jerry Graham, Punxsutawney was a $16,000 yearling purchase. A son of Glidemaster, he entered the Bluegrass with one win in seven starts, that coming in a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes contest at Pocono Downs. Friday's race brings his earnings to more than $128,000.