Although she has displayed an affinity for an off track, having won three of four prior starts in the slop, Idyllic was simply the best in gamely winning the $175,400 Jugette final Wednesday afternoon at the Delaware, Ohio fairgrounds.
Idyllic and Swinging Beauty won their respective Jugette eliminations, but this year's format differed from the past as the 3-year-old filly pacer who won the second heat was celebrated as the winner. In prior years, if the second heat was won by a horse who did not win an elim, then a race-off would ensue.
As in the elim, regular pilot Dave Miller remained on duty in the final for trainer Casie Coleman and owners West Wins Stables, Michael LaCova, Joseph LaCova and John Campagnuolo. For Coleman, the win was doubly sweet as she won the 2010 Jugette with Western Silk.
Exiting the first turn, Miller settled Idyllic into a brief pocket tuck behind Rocklamation and Yannick Gingras by the quarter in :27, then retook control to the half in :56.3 and the three quarters in 1:24.4.
Still on top, but with Rocklamation breathing down Miller’s neck, those two turned for home with Idyllic slogging through the deep track near the pylons. When Gingras tugged on Rocklamation's pull-down blinds, she responded with a late burst of speed and got to within inches of Idyllic’s bridle, but fell just short in 1:54. Swinging Beauty was third.
“She’s been unbelievable for us,” said Coleman. “She never has been out of the top three, she’s a dream come true. And the fact that she’s an American Ideal (whom Coleman also trained) makes it even more special.”
“I thought being on top was the best place for her,” said Miller. “I had no chance of sitting, so I moved her back to the lead and she did the rest. I was surprised it was a horse race at the top of the stretch. I thought it was all over after the first heat.”
Coleman said that Idyllic will head to Lexington and The Red Mile next.
As for the Jugette elims contested earlier on the card, although it was not an “idyllic” trip in the first, millionairess filly Idyllic turned in a monster mile to win the $58,470 race in 1:53.1.
Idyllic was tested early when all of the quintet of Jugette contenders scrambled to control the pace. Brian Sears and Myluvmylife reached the top first, but faced an immediate challenge from Miller and Idyllic, who were stung and used hard in an opening panel of :26.4.
Miller cleared the lead and let the high-strung filly roll on, hitting the half in :54 and the three quarters in 1:22.4. By that time Miller had opened up several lengths on the field and when Roger Huston declared that they were on top by seven, Miller let Idyllic choose her pace finishing, never pulling the earplugs and needing only a last half of :59.1 to win easily in 1:53.1.
The win was her fourth in 11 starts this season.
“I figured the first fraction would be tough and I thought I would leave and see what would happen and it worked out,” said Miller after the elim win. “The opening quarter was a big one and I had to chase her to get by. After that she was wound up and I just let her roll. I expect her to be the same in the final.”
Whats New Pussycat, MyLuvMylife, and Tu Sei Bella finished behind Idyllic in that order to advance to the final.
With a strong three wide brush around the final turn, Doug McNair and Swinging Beauty went from last to first to get up in the final strides to capture the $58,470 second elim in a driving rainstorm.
McNair drives for owners William Switala and James Martin and for his father, trainer Gregg McNair.
When the gate folded the field lined up in post position order and stayed that way through opening fractions of :27 and :56.2. As they approached the final turn and the three quarters in 1:24.1, McNair tipped Swinging Beauty out and into contention, tipping three wide as they straightened out for home and pressing on to win in 1:54.2.
The win was the third in 14 starts this season for Swinging Beauty whose last half was in :58 and her last quarter in :30.1 over a very sloppy track.
Also advancing to the Jugette final were Strike An Attitude, Rocklamation and Pretty Katherine.