A filly and her driver may be asked to do many things to win a stake race, but finding a path through a flock of truculent geese typically isn't among them. That was the case Friday at The Meadows, however, when Southwind Roulette and Yannick Gingras avoided the geese and captured a division of the Sand Tart, a $227,160 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes for freshman filly pacers.
The event was contested over three divisions, with Aria Hanover and Shakai Hanover also taking splits. Gingras enjoyed — if that's the word — a stake double, as he also piloted Aria Hanover.
The geese, perhaps 15 of them, had "honkered” down around the three-quarter pole; as the field approached, they seemed determined to maintain their newfound territory. To complicate matters, a deer outside the fence was trying to match strides with the field. Dave Palone, sitting in the pocket with Gold Beach behind Southwind Roulette, vacated the two hole and went wide when he noticed the birds.
"I don't think Yannick knew they were there at all,” Palone said. "I'm following him and I'm like, I better not be dead on his back in case his horse sticks her toes in. So I moved out in the two path. I figured, if he fell inside and mine fell outside, at least we wouldn't trip over them. I think we went right through them.”
Gingras indicated that by the time he saw the geese, there was no way to change course.
"I've never seen geese and a deer at the same time,” he said. "David screamed behind me when he saw them, but it was too late to move. My filly didn't care one bit. She just went right through them.”
The birds reluctantly scattered, and there were no injuries to humans or animals. The judges stamped the race official only after speaking with the drivers involved.
To see the race video, please click here.
Southwind Roulette defeated the rallying Kays Dragon Lady by two lengths in 1:53.2, with the unlucky Gold Beach third. Ron Burke trains the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Southwind Rio for Bradley Grant and Howard Taylor.
Gingras' other stake victory was more conventional, as Aria Hanover followed the cover of Doctor Terror and prevailed in 1:53.4 for her second straight PASS win. Doctor Terror fell a head short while Arielle Lynn was fourth-placed-third.
"About five horses left inside me,” Gingras said. "I figured, if they mix it up enough, I'll be okay. But when I saw the first quarter in 28.2, I was a bit worried and wondered if I should have left harder. But it worked out. If they're good enough, they'll get it done.”
Jimmy Takter conditions the daughter of Well Said-Allamerican Cognac for Brittany Farms.
Shakai Hanover was shuffled to fifth approaching the final turn but found late room outside and stormed through the stretch to score in 1:53.2, a head better than Ginger Tree Alexis. Eloquently Stated completed the ticket. Mark MacDonald drove the daughter of Well Said-She's A Fan, who broke her maiden with the victory, for trainer Carl Jamieson, who owns with Winnipeg Racing and Vira Johnson.
"I was a little worried I might be too far back to win,” MacDonald said. "She really paced hard when I showed her some racetrack. They're not supposed to win from there — maybe third. At the wire, she really wanted it. She was sticking her head out and digging hard.”
Palone drove four winners on the 15-race card. (The Meadows)