UF Dragon's Queen finally found her comfort zone on the lead, drawing off to score in 1:54.2 in the slop in the fastest division of Tuesday's Keystone Classic at The Meadows.
The $140,000 event for 2-year-old filly pacers was contested over four divisions, with Somwherovrarainbow, South Pacific and Want Answers also taking $35,000 splits.
Entering the Keystone Classic, UF Dragon's Queen had banked $110,446 but remained winless in eight starts thanks to some bad luck and immaturity. In the $200,000 championship of the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes, for example, she held the lead heading for home but blew the final turn and scrambled back to finish fourth.
She was much more confident Tuesday for David Miller, roaring to the front and triumphing by 5-1/4 lengths over Somstreetsomwhere, with Petunia's Dragon third.
"We never had her on the front before, and last week in the final, she thought the race was over,” said Kelly O'Donnell, who trains the daughter of Dragon Again-Queen Teen for Up Front Racing LLC. "She tried to pull up in the turn, and that's why she got beat. David had her ready today. He pulled the earplugs going into the last turn, and she went around there fine.”
He said UF Dragon's Queen, a $50,000 yearling purchase, will race next in a Grand Circuit stake at the Red Mile.
Somwherovrarainbow was anxious in the pocket but maintained her poise long enough to blow by the front-ending Handsoffmycupcake, Pennsylvania's divisional champion, and down that rival by 6-1/2 lengths in 1:54.4 for Greg Grismore. Binding Desire completed the ticket.
"She was rammy but just controllable enough,” Grismore said. "She grabbed right into me. I probably should have moved her back to the front, but I thought we were following the next-best filly, so I made her sit in there. It worked out.”
George Teague, Jr. trains the Somebeachsomewhere daughter of 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue for K&R Racing LLC and George Teague, Jr. Inc.
South Pacific made it three wins in four starts with a front-end victory for Dave Palone in 1:55.2. Benearthebeach was second, 1-1/4 lengths back, with Glowing Fashion third.
The Cancelliere brothers — trainer Tom and owner John — gave $170,000 at auction for the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Best Laid Plans and are pleased with their investment.
"I'd give it to you again right now,” Tom Cancelliere said. "We'd write all the checks we could for $170,000 if you give me more like her. She was a little hot starting, but she's calming down now. She's exactly where we want her to be. We plan for seven or eight starts for all our babies. When they're ready, they're ready.”
Brian Zendt and Palone each drove three winners on the 16-race card.
Stake racing continues Wednesday at The Meadows with a $115,997 Keystone Classic for freshman filly trotters. First post is 6:55 PM.