McWicked (pictured) captured the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers in 1:47.3, Sweet Lou won the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older pacers in 1:47 and Father Patrick closed the stakes portion of the card with a 1:50.2 triumph in the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, which came after Sebastian K won the Sun Invitational for older trotters in 1:49, setting the tone for a fast night of world-record efforts.
Fancy Desire won the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers in 1:49.2, which equaled the stakes record.
"Tonight we've seen such great racing,” said Jimmy Takter, the trainer of Father Patrick. "It was one race after another being impressive. I think somehow (Father Patrick)--maybe I'm a little partial with it--put the icing on the cake for the whole evening.”
Sweet Lou extended his win streak to five by capturing the Ben Franklin Pace by a neck over stablemate Bettor's Edge in 1:47, which broke the previous world record of 1:47.2 for the fastest ever by a pacer on a five-eighths-mile track. Foiled Again was third as trainer Ron Burke swept the top three spots.
Ron Pierce and Sweet Lou battled stablemates Bettor's Edge and Allstar Legend through an opening quarter of :25.2 before getting the lead prior to the half-mile point, which was reached in :53.3. Sweet Lou fended off challenges from Allstar Legend and Domethatagain on the backstretch before holding off an inside bid from Bettor's Edge in the stretch.
"I let them pace up to me and then I started chasing my horse,” Pierce said. "I felt like, by far, he was the best horse in the race; the only way he was going to get beat tonight was if I messed up. I guess we can throw that ‘entrymates working together' baloney out the window.”
Sweet Lou has won five of eight races this year and 27 of 63 starts in his career, pushing his lifetime earnings to $2.52 million for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura.
"At the start of the race, I didn't know if we were going to get around there for a second when he was three wide, but Ronnie got him to the top,” Collura said. "Then at the top of the stretch, I thought, from where I was looking, that we might have been passed, but he dug right back in and he got it done.”
Father Patrick made a 1:50.2 mile look easy, as he was all alone at the wire to win the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot. The mile was a world record for 3-year-old trotting colts on a five-eighths-mile track and it was one-fifth of a second off the all size world record.
Datsyuk (Charlie Norris) was first off the gate and briefly held the lead at the :27.1 first quarter, with Father Patrick (Yannick Gingras) drifting along outside the leader in second before leisurely making his way to the top by the :56 half. His stablemate from the Takter Stable, Nuncio (John Campbell), was on the move at the five-eighths marker. He got to the outside of Datsyuk, trotting in second, while Father Patrick hit the three-quarters in 1:23.
Nuncio and Datsyuk battled for second down the stretch while Father Patrick was alone, finishing the mile in front by 2 3/4 lengths. Nuncio was second and Datsyuk third.
Father Patrick is owned by the Father Patrick Stable of East Windsor, N.J. He's a son of Cantab Hall and the Enjoy Lavec mare Gala Dream.
"I was very happy with both my horses,” said trainer Takter. "But Father Patrick, it's like I've been saying, he's a very unique horse. We compare him with other horses. I've trained a lot of great horses and he's definitely the best I've developed. This horse, trotting here in 1:50.2, I know this track is fantastic but Yannick just sat on him and never even asked him, he had the plugs left in him. We saw the fastest trotter here today (Sebastian K) in 1:49, but this is just a 3 year old and this is a heck of a performance.
"I have also Trixton this year and (with second-place finisher Nuncio) that's three very nice horses and unfortunately only one can be the champion. My vote is always leaning to Patrick anyway because he's so unique and he does it so easy. I'm very happy about him.”
"It's a dream come true,” said winning driver Gingras. When I came to race in the US, that's what I wanted. I moved to the Meadowlands and I made it to drive great horses. He's definitely the most talented horse I've sat behind. We've been babying him all year, we qualified him real easy, raced him really conservatively from the back. Last week when he raced, he was good, but he wasn't Father Patrick good. All the credit goes to Jimmy, he made a couple little changes on him.”
Both Father Patrick and Nuncio are headed to the Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands in two weeks and then the Hambletonian on Aug. 2.
McWicked was McBest in winning the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial in 1:47.3, a world record for 3-year-old pacing colts on a five-eighths-mile track.
At Press Time (Gingras) was first to the lead off the starting gate, hitting the quarter-mile marker in :26.2, with McWicked (David Miller) close behind. Miller popped out of the two hole just past the quarter and had the lead by the three-eighths and that order never varied through a :55 half and a 1:21.2 three-quarters.
At Press Time made a mild rally in the stretch, but it was not enough to get past McWicked, who won by 2 1/4 lengths for trainer Casie Coleman and owner SSG Stables of North Boston, N.Y. At Press Time was second, All Bets Off was third and Cammikey fourth.
"He was just awesome, I like him out of a hole,” said trainer Coleman. "But he's good on the front, too. I saw Dave when that horse was coming out of the two hole and Dave spoke to him a little bit and then had his whip tucked away at the wire, so I was pretty happy with the looks of that.”
"He felt pretty good up the backstretch and around the last turn,” said driver Miller. "He's been racing unbelievable. I had a lot of confidence in him. I just wanted to get him away from the gate and be able to clear and be the last one to the lead. It actually worked out a lot easier. We got to the half in :55 and that felt pretty good.”
Fancy Desire and driver George Napolitano Jr. grabbed the lead early and held off Sayitall BB by a head to win the Lynch Memorial in 1:49.2.
"I know fractions don't bother her, she can go real fast,” Napolitano said. "I knew it was going to be a sprint.
"She's a little horse and I know she can sprint. (Sayitall BB) was sprinting right with her, but she just kept sticking her nose out and got the job done. That's what good horses do.”
Fancy Desire is trained by Kevin Carr for owner Robert DiNozzi. She has won four of nine races this year and seven of 21 in her career. She has earned $258,744 lifetime.
"I was very confident,” Napolitano said. "She loves her work and it makes my job real easy.” (HRC)