Heavily-favored Artspeak, trained by Tony Alagna and driven by Scott Zeron, kept his perfect record intact with another facile triumph, this time in the second Metro Pace elimination Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack.
The victory, his fifth in five outings so far in a monstrous juvenile campaign, stamped the son of Western Ideal as the one to beat in next Saturday's 667,000 final. His smallest margin of victory has been one and three-quarter lengths.
Lyons Again set the early fractions of 27 seconds flat and :56.2, before Zeron popped the favourite from fourth to take over approaching the far turn. But Lyons Again wouldn't fade, parking the choice through early stretch after three-quarters in 1:23.3.
Despite being out in the middle of the track, Artspeak then pulled away for the easy four and one-half length score in 1:51. Lyons Again held second, with Pierce Hanover third, Amora Beach fourth and Traceur Hanover fifth, all of whom will come back for the final.
"He's an absolute freak,” said Zeron, about Artspeak. "I knew I wasn't going to clear (before the three-quarters). I needed maybe a fraction of an inch to do it. So I just decided to sit with him and when we came off the top turn I chirped to him once and he was gone. I didn't have to pull the plugs.
"He's progressed amazingly. Tony did a great job starting him in New Jersey Sires Stakes so it was a little bit easier competition. We were able to race him off the pace and do it the right way, second-over trips, come 26 on the end. He showed us right off the bat he's the real deal.”
Along with first elim winner Go Daddy Go, the win by Artspeak, who was coming off a sharp score in a Nassagaweya division last week, provided his connections with the opportunity to select a post position for the final before the balance of the field was drawn.
In the last 10 years, the Metro, the richest race on the continent for two-year-olds, has been won by such champions as Captaintreacherous (2012), Sportswriter (2009), Somebeachsomewhere (2007) and Rocknroll Hanover (2004).
Alagna, of course, is the trainer of Captaintreacherous, while Zeron will be seeking his first Metro win.
Sent postward the 1-9 choice, Artspeak paid $2.20 and $2.10 (no show wagering), combining with Lyons Again ($2.50) for a $5.10 (5-6) exactor. A 5-6-2 (Pierce Hanover) triactor returned $38 while a $1 Superfecta [5-6-2-3 (Amora Beach)] was worth $82.65.
Go Daddy Go, with Hall of Famer John Campbell, got up in late stretch Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack to win the first $40,000 eliminations for next week's rich Metro Pace final.
Go Daddy Go, trained by another Hall of Famer Bob McIntosh, was winning his third race in seven outings in a career best 1:52.4 and has been a gem of consistency, with three seconds and one third as well. The biggest win so far this year for the son of Ponder was the Battle of Waterloo at Grand River Raceway in Elora on August 4.
Sent postward a close second choice to favoured Asap Hanover, Go Daddy Go was moved up from fifth by Campbell around the far turn, after Lyons Levi Lewis had led the way through a half in :55.1, before reaching three-quarters in 1:23.4. By mid-stretch, though, Go Daddy Go had collared the leader and went on to post a gritty one and one-quarter length tally.
Lyons Levi Lewis held second, with Lone Survivor third, Dudes The Man fourth and Trading Up fifth, to also qualify for the final. Asap Hanover wound up last of seven.
"He just doesn't pay attention as much as he does when he's coming at horses,” revealed Campbell. "We just kind of fell to the front last week (when finishing second in a Nassagaweya division). This week I made a conscious effort to have him coming at horses and he responded well.
"He raced very well (the first time Campbell drove him, July 7), even though he was third. He paced a big back half and was still pacing at the wire. I told Bob (McIntosh) at the time that I thought he had a future. Since then, he's gotten sounder and easier to drive. But you never know when you come out of a Sires Stakes program just how they are going to do at the open level. But we were pretty sure he wasn't going to embarrass himself and would at least be competitive. So far he proved that. But next week will be a bigger test.”
By winning his elim, Go Daddy Go earned his connections the right to choose a post position for the final before the balance of the field was drawn.
In the last decade, the Metro has been won by such champions as Captaintreacherous (2012), Sportswriter (2009), Somebeachsomewhere (2007) and Rocknroll Hanover (2004).
Campbell is a four-time winner of the Metro while McIntosh, who also raced sire Ponder with great success, earning over $1.6 million, will be looking for his first win.
Go Daddy Go paid $6, $3.10 and $2.50, combining with Lyons Levi Lewis ($3.70, $2.90) for a $16.30 (3-1) exactor. A 3-1-4 (Lone Survivor, $3.30) triactor returned $65.30, while a $1 Superfecta [3-1-4-5 (Dudes The Man)] was worth $264.30.
Following the eliminations, the post postions were drawn for next week's final.
Elimination winners earned the right to select their post positions.
1.Dudes The Man - Ron Pierce
2. Go Daddy Go - John Campbell
3. Artspeak - Scott Zeron
4. Traceur Hanover - Randy Waples
5. Trading Up - Scott Zeron
6. Lyons Levi Lewis - Yannick Gingras
7. Pierce Hanover - Paul MacDonell
8. Lyons Again - Yannick Gingras
9. Lone Survivor - David Miller
10. Amora Beach - Tim Tetrick
AE: Sports Bettor - Randy Waples