Highscore Kemp, a filly who hails from the immediate family of greats Andover Hall, Conway Hall and Angus Hall, poked a head in front and stretched it out to a length to win the $130,000 World Trotting Derby for 3-year-old fillies in a world, stakes and track record time of 1:51.4 on Friday at the Du Quoin State Fair. Tim Tetrick drove the filly for trainer Frank Antonacci.
The previous world record for a 3-year-old trotting filly on a mile track (1:52) was held by Queen Serene, taken in 2006 at The Red Mile. The stakes and track record for 3-year-old trotting fillies was 1:52.2, held by Exotic Destination in the 2007 filly World Trotting Derby.
Highscore Kemp, owned by KR Breeding, sat well off the early fractions set by Celebrity Deville (George Brennan) and Missy’s Doubtfire (Anders Svanstedt), who led the field to the :27 quarter, :54.2 half and 1:23 three-quarters. She’d moved to fourth by the three-quarter marker and then to second, a half-length behind Southwind Wasabi, at the head of the stretch.
As the duo trotted for home, Tetrick eased his filly to the middle of the track and got by a closing Southwind Wasabi on the outside for the win. Southwind Wasabi (Tyler Buter), the favorite, was second, while Celebrity Deville was third. Missy’s Doubtfire crossed the wire fourth, but was set back to last for a violation of the breaking rule.
The race’s early speed contributed heavily to Highscore Kemp’s victory, said Tetrick.
“It worked out good for me because they went a really fast pace up front. I got to lay off good and I followed Tyler Buter’s mare (Southwind Wasabi), which was probably one of the favorites to beat and she led me all the way to the top of the lane. My mare did the rest from there. I was head and head with her until at least the edge of the grandstand and she got a head in front, kept digging and got to the wire first.”
Tetrick took note of the filly’s 0 for 6 season so far, with breaks in two of her last four starts, all at the Meadowlands.
“She can definitely go with any of the fillies, she’s just had an awful lot of bad luck. There is something about the Meadowlands she doesn’t like, I don’t know if it’s the footing or what. In Lexington last fall, she was super and won two races there. This year at Du Quoin, I knew the dirt would really help her. She’s flawless-gaited, but for some reason, she does not like the Meadowlands. She could easily have $600,000 on her card, because she’s made very costly breaks.”
“I ran all the way down here, I’m so happy,” a jubilant Antonacci noted after the race. “I really am happy for the filly because she’s been spectacular for two years, but she’s made some untimely breaks and not gotten the accolades that she deserves.
“I love her. She’s gorgeous. She’s got that big white blaze, she looks like (Thoroughbred) Rachel Alexandra and I think she’s showing she has that type of ability, too.”
Antonacci said the blazing early fractions set his filly up well for the stretch drive. “I was really happy about that. A filly like her that likes to close, that’s what you’re looking for.
“She’ll go to the Moni Maker next Sunday at The Red Mile, which I think is going to set up great, she likes that track also.”
The clay surface at Du Quoin suited the daughter of Muscles Yankee–Emilie Cas El (a sister to Andover Hall, Conway Hall and Angus Hall), said Antonacci. “When I took her out here and jogged her on it, I said, ‘She’s winning in :52 today.’ This is like a pillow for her, she loved it.”
Antonacci noted the job done by the track crew after an overnight rainfall caused a two hour delay to dry out the clay track. “They did a fantastic job here taking this track from a two hour (rain) delay,” he said. “A mile like that shows you how good it was.” (Ellen Harvey/Harness Racing Communications)