Huntsville takes aim at PASS repeat
May 16, 2017
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Huntsville, last year's North American 2-year-old pacing colt champion coming off a sensational victory in his 2017 bow, will start from post four Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in the 11th race division of the $148,492 second leg of the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes for sophomore male pacers.
A son of Somebeachsomewhere owned by trainer Ray Schnittker in partnership with Theodore Gewertz, Charles Iannazzo, and Steven Arnold, Huntsville posted an 11-7-4-0 slate last year, good for $689,814, took his Breeders Crown final and Pennsylvania Sires Stakes championship, and at Lexington paced in 1:49, a clocking which equaled the fastest mile ever by a 2 year old.
Huntsville made his first start of this year in the first Sire Stakes leg at The Meadows on May 6, going a devastating mile to win by 10 lengths in 1:50.3 over a "sloppy +2" track in 44 degree temperatures – with none of the other three divisions going faster than 1:52.1. Regular pilot Tim Tetrick handled him in that impressive victory, and he is again slated for Sunday sulky duty.
The duels between Huntsville and a member of the Brian Brown stable were highlights of the late season last year, and again on Sunday there will be a Schnittker vs. Brown showdown – but Huntsville won't be facing archrival Downbytheseaside, who also went in 1:49 the same day Huntsville did and who took his measure in the Governor's Cup in 2016. Downbytheseaside this week will be down by the Hudson River, competing Saturday in an elimination race for the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers.
But if ever a trainer were going to have to send a "second-stringer" against a star like Huntsville, Brown is in as good a position as anyone could be – for his "second-stringer" is Fear The Dragon, a son of Dragon Again owned by the Emerald Highlands Farm. Fear The Dragon defeated Huntsville in 2016, a 1:51.2 Sires Stakes triumph at Philly Aug. 18, was second to him in his 1:49 record mile, and two weeks ago won a Sire Stakes division in 1:52.1 in the off going at The Meadows, the same time as his winning stablemate Downbytheseaside. David Miller will be in the sulky as Fear The Dragon starts from post five.
The other divisional winner at The Meadows in the first leg of the Sires, Filibuster Hanover (1:52.2), appears to be the horse to beat in the tenth race Sires division, beginning from post two for driver Yannick Gingras, trainer Ron Burke, and the ownership collective of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Joseph Di Scala Jr., J&T Silva Stables LLC, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The altered son of Somebeachsomewhere showed at the end of last year that he can pace with the best around, finishing third behind Downbytheseaside and Huntsville in the Governor's Cup despite suffering interference.
In the 12th race Sires division, Gingras may again be behind a favored son of Somebeachsomewhere, Ocean Colony, who won his yearly bow in 1:51.3 – 26.3 over "good going" at The Meadowlands after taking a mark of 1:50.1 at two. Jimmy Takter trains Ocean Colony, who will start from post two for Christina Takter, John Fielding, Hatfield Stables, and the partnership of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband.
Also part of the super Sunday show at The Downs will be a pair of $25,000 handicap events, one for pacing mares and one for trotters. The first post for the Sunday card at the mountain oval is listed to go at 7:30 p.m. (Pocono/PHHA)