After watching an epic front-end battle between Crazy Wow and Resolve from fourth most of the mile, driver Andrew McCarthy found room up the pylons late for 60-1 JL Cruze and pulled a major upset by winning the inaugural running of the $250,000 Spirit Of Massachusetts Trot that was held at Plainridge Park on Friday.
Crazy Wow (Matt Kakaley) and Resolve (Ake Svanstedt) both wanted the lead but Crazy Wow got it, seating Resolve before they hit the quarter in :26.1. At that station Hannelore Hanover (Yannick Gingras) pulled momentarily from third but that prompted Resolve to pop the deuce and the mare went back to the pylons. Resolve pulled alongside Crazy Wow for a few strides but Kakaley asked for more and put Resolve back in the hole once again.
Just before the five-eighths, Resolve came for the third time and Hannelore Hanover followed. That opened the rail for JL Cruze to move up the inside and right onto the back of front-running Crazy Wow as they hit three-quarters in 1:22 flat. Around the last turn, Crazy Wow and Resolve continued to slug it out side-by-side but at the top of the lane they both drifted a bit and opened a lane for the fresh-legged JL Cruze to get underway. As they drove for the wire, JL Cruze invoked his will and trotted away from group to win the race in 1:51.2 which set a new all-time track trotting record.
Hannelore Hanover got up for second and Crazy Wow hung on to be third.
"It really worked out, that was a lot of pressure up there; they were really rocking along. I had my chance just getting through the first turn which was my biggest concern, then after that I had to get lucky to get out" said winning driver Andrew McCarthy. "Going into the last turn, I knew I had enough trot to get there, it was just a matter of getting up the inside. So when they were dueling up front, I could kind of cut my own mile back there and just figure it out from there."
McCarthy was asked about filling the seat of Hall of Famer John Campbell, who was JL Cruze's regular driver before his retirement in June and he said that Campbell actually had a part of the day’s success.
"JL Cruze has been a great horse for three years now and to just sit behind a horse like that is a great privilege. It worked out before the race that I ran into John (Campbell) and asked him what he thought I should do with this horse on the gate and he gave me a couple pointers and it really worked out."
It was only the second win of the year for JL Cruze but one that a record live crowd will never forget. Let go at 60-1 by the betting faithful, JL Cruze returned $123.60 to win and a $732.60 trifecta and $4,588.80 superfecta with the three post-time favorites in order behind him.
The winner’s share of the purse made JL Cruze a millionaire as it pushed his lifetime earnings to $1.08 million for owners William Wood, William Dittmar Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta. Eric Ell is the winning trainer.
The track record that JL Cruze broke was set just one race before by Gural Hanover in the $25,000 Old North Church Open Handicap Trot.
Gural Hanover (Matt Kakaley) left sharply from post eight and opened up a two-length advantage. He maintained the gapped lead the entire race including easy first-half fractions of :27.1 and :56.1. And that is where the race was won.
As they started up the backside, Kakaley tapped the gas pedal and got to three-quarters in 1:24 flat and then with the field strung-out behind him, Gural Hanover trotted home in total command tripping the timer in 1:52.1 under Kakaley’s wraps. The 1:52.1 track record stood for one race.
It was the sixth win in 13 starts this year for Gural Hanover ($3.60) who is owned by the Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Little E LLC and the Panhellenic Stable Corp. and is trained by Ron Burke. (Plainridge Park)