Solvato received a perfect steer from trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer to win the first of three $98,038 divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes (PASS) for 3-year-old colt trotters Friday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia in a career-best 1:53.2. It was the first start of 2012 for the son of Donato Hanover out of the $820,000-winning mare Solveig since a win last Aug. 25 in a leg of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series.
Solvato, a $105,000 yearling purchase by Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stable, won two of only three starts last year. Despite the brief rookie campaign, trainer-driver Trong Smedshammer told harnessracing.com recently that he had high hopes for the trotter this year.
"He has high, high speed, but he didn't go those big miles last year,” said Smedshammer. "He has unbelievable speed and it doesn't feel there is really a bottom for him when he's training. I'm not going to be overconfident but he is a horse that has the tools. He could be a real player.”
In the PASS opener, Smedshammer got away second from post one with Solvato as the Ron Pierce-driven Not Afraid took the early lead. Past the quarter in :28.4, Andy Miller moved the 1-2 favorite Top Billing, who was riding a three-race winning streak that included the $58,650 Survivor Series final at the Meadowlands, from fourth to first, clearing past the :57.2 half.
Top Billing reached the three-quarters in 1:25.2 as Smedshammer, who had moved off the pylons, came up first-over with Solvato. It wasn't until the final stride when Solvato put his head in front of Top Billing to gain the victory. Not Afraid was third.
Magic Tonight, who made a break in his season opener May 11 in a Simpson division at the Meadowlands, was an easy winner in the second PASS division in 1:54. The third split went to Beer Summit, who scored in 1:54.1 with a sharp drive by Pierce.
Pierce settled the 3-5 favorite Magic Tonight in second as David Miller and Hoorayforvacation set the early tempo. Soon after the half was reached in :57.1, Pierce moved Magic Tonight out and around the leader to take control, and from there the outcome was never in doubt.
Magic Tonight easily held clear runner-up Dandover, with Go Tapaigh closing for third.
A $55,000 yearling purchase by Adam Victor & Son Stable, Magic Tonight is a son of Andover Hall out of the Self Possessed mare Miss Possessed. Trained by Noel Daley, Magic Tonight was a three-time winner in 2011, including divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion Stakes during Grand Circuit action at The Red Mile.
Pierce started from the far outside in the third division with Beer Summit, a Cantab Hall colt, but went forward off the wings and pressured Nothing But Class (Andover Hall-Bold Dreamer) in the first turn. Nothing But Class had the inside route, but Pierce stayed alongside and Nothing But Class broke stride midway through the turn. Beer Summit broke the beam at the quarter in :27.3.
In the homestretch going to the half, David Miller sent Frost Bites K up to challenge and Pierce obliged, which put a new leader at the halfway mark in :56.1. Frost Bites K led the field up the backstretch and through the last turn, with Pierce and Beer Summit pinned in the rail but the second tier of On The Podium and Overandovervictory. But in the drive to the wire the outside challengers faded and Pierce sent Beer Summit on his way to an easy victory.
Noel Daley trains Beer Summit for owners Vanderkemp, Bogucki and Jerry and Theresa Silva. The colt took a mark of 1:56.1 last year in winning a Standardbred Stakes at Delaware, Ohio, over Frost Bites K. With his PASS victory the $7,000 yearling has now earned $99,417.