The Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia proved to be the perfect remedy for Crazy Wow’s early-season bout of seconditis.
Crazy Wow, who was second in each of his first three races this year, picked up his first win of the campaign in Sunday’s $150,000 event for older trotters, defeating JL Cruze by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:52. Charmed Life, the only mare in the race, was third. Tuonoblu Rex, the second choice behind 3-2 favorite Crazy Wow, went off stride while challenging for the lead on the final turn and finished sixth.
The Maxie Lee was part of a stakes tripleheader at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Lady Shadow won the $150,000 Betsy Ross Mares Invitational and New Zealand-bred Mossdale Conner won the Ben Stafford Jr. Invitational for older male pacers.
A 5-year-old stallion, Crazy Wow got to the front from post five in the opening quarter-mile and set fractions of :27.3, :56.4, and 1:24 on his way to victory.
Crazy Wow’s first three races this year were on the mile oval at the Meadowlands and winning trainer Ron Burke said the switch to Philly’s five-eighths-mile track was a benefit.
"I was happy," Burke said about Crazy Wow, who had a streak of four consecutive second-place finishes dating back to last year and won for the first time since July 2016. "He’s been good every start this year. On a little track he’s going to get a little more of a breather in there. And it was big getting the half in :56.4.
"(Tuonoblu Rex) had already left and had to be first up. Obviously JL Cruze wasn’t as sharp today as he’s been the last couple weeks. You just hope you’re good when you need to be good."
Yannick Gingras drove Crazy Wow, a son of Crazed out of the mare No Pan No Gain, for owners Our Horse Cents Stables, Stable 45, J&T Silva Stables, and Deo Volente Farms.
Crazy Wow, who paid $5 to win, has won 16 of 46 lifetime races and earned $1.67 million.
Earlier this month, Crazy Wow finished second to Resolve in the Cutler Memorial at The Meadowlands. He entered the Maxie Lee off a second-place finish to JL Cruze in the Preferred at the Big M on May 19.
"Hopefully this is the start of him winning a few and not being second as much," Burke said. "A couple things didn't go quite perfect (in his earlier races) and in this group it’s going to have to go perfect for him because he’s not that much better than these horses. But he’s as good as any of them.
"Who gets the better trip, who gets a little luckier, that’s who is going to win."
The Maxie Lee is named after longtime horsemen Maxie Lee. A native of North Carolina, Lee made a name for himself as a trainer and driver in the Philadelphia area at Liberty Bell and Brandywine. He had back-to-back Delaware Valley Harness Horse of the Year winners in the mid-1970s with Black Gamecock and Valley Ken. In 1990, Lee became the first African-American with a starter in the Hambletonian, with the Peter Haughton winner Backstreet Guy. (HRC)