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JL Cruze upsets Father Patrick in Graduate

June 07, 2015

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With 13 horses entered into both the trotting and pacing division of The Graduate for four year olds, each event was split into two divisions, worth $56,250 each.

The big name on the program was Father Patrick, last year's three year old trotter of the year with career earnings of more than $2.5 Million.  Installed as a 1/5 morning line favorite, Father Patrick went off as the 1/9 choice.  He was gathered back off the gate as JL Cruze was intent on the lead through an opening quarter of 26.4.  As J L Cruze began to slow the pace down, Father Patrick launched his move and grabbed the lead going past the half-mile in 56.1.  Father Patrick still led past three-quarters in 1:24.1 with JL Cruze in close pursuit.  As the field turned for home, JL Cruze ripped out of the pocket and Yannick Gingras called to his champion.  JL Cruze began to drift out, but he was closing in on the favorite and despite drifting through the stretch, JL Cruze was able to get up in the shadow of the wire over Father Patrick in 1:51.  Resolve was third.

Dave Miller spot to JL Cruze's ability after the race.  "John (Campbell) actually talked to me the other day at Chesster (Philadelphia) and he told me I'd like him," said Miller.  "He showed tonight he can go with the Free For All trotters."  JL Cruze has now won 12 of 14 starts this season and has not lost a race since the second round of the Charles Singer Memorial in February.  He is trained by Eric Ell and owned by Kenneth Wood, Ditmar Jr. and Iaquinta.  The 1:51 clocking was a lifetime mark.

On the pacing side, the first division featured a North America Cup winner in J K Endofanera and the new kid on the block, the razor sharp Rockeyed Optimist.  The betting public settled on the North America Cup champion as the 4/5 favorite, with Rockeyed Optimist close behind at 6/5.

The early lead would go to Limelight Beach, last year's Little Brown Jug winner, who reached the opening panel in a swift 25.4.  At that point, JK Endofanera made his move for the lead and he cleared the front with Gingras before the half-mile in 53.3.  Rockeyed Optimist was shown racetrack at this point and he ranged up alongside the leader and the two favorites hooked up past three-quarters in 1:21.2.  The pair turned for home while racing on even terms, but Rockeyed Optimist began to wear down JK Endofanera through the stretch and he would reach the wire in 1:48 for Tim Tetrick, one of his four wins on the card.

The win was the ninth from ten starts this year for Rockeyed Optimist and the seventh in a row for the son of Rocknroll Hanover who surpassed $200,000 in career earnings with the win.  JK Endofanera held second with Limelight Beach third.

Rockeyed Optimist is owned by Anthony Perrretti, Berkner, A & B Stable and Battaglia.

The Tim Tetrick/Steve Elliot theme continued in the second division of The Graduate in the form of Doo Wop Hanover who was released as the 2/5 favorite.  He would not disappoint, winning in 1:48.  He would rally from off the pace which was initially established by Rock Out through an opening quarter of 26.1.  All Bets Off launched a bid down the backstretch and grabbed the lead before the half-mile of 54.  Things tightened up moving towards the far turn and Bushwacker, who was racing along the pylons got rank and went off-stride.  But, All Bets Off was clear of trouble, going past three-quarters in 1:21.3.  At that time, Doo Wop Hanover was tracking the cover of Somewhere In L A and he flipped three wide for the stretch drive and began to close into the margin through the stretch.  The two favorites paced down to the wire together, with Doo Wop Hanover reaching the wire first in 1:48, All Bets Off was second and Bushwacker overcame the miscue to finish third.

Doo Wop Hanover is owned by Peter Blood and Rick Berks.

Both Rockeyed Optimist and Doo Wop Hanover have scored in both the first and second legs of the Graduate.  The third leg takes place in two weeks on Friday, June 19th.

Back on the trotting side, the first division pitted the mare and defending Trotter of the Year, Shake It Cerry against the very fast Gural Hanover.  Shake It Cerry was sent off as the 1/2 favorite and lived up to the billing.  She would track the speed of Gural Hanover throughout the mile, through fractions of 26.4, 55.1 and 1:23.3, before pulling the pocket in the stretch and powerfully trotting past Gural Hanover to win in a very sharp 1:51.4.  The win was the 25th in Shake It Cerry's career from just 33 starts and her earnings are now beyond $2.1 Million.  She is owned by Solveig's Racing Partners and was trained and driven to victory by Jimmy Takter.

On the wagering front, neither jackpot was hit in the super hi-5. The fifth race carryover grew to $149,789 while the last race carryover now stands at $126,693.

Total handle for the 13-race Saturday program was $3,225,452 a 20-percent increase over Belmont Day 2014.  The on-track handle was also up nearly 15-percent.

Racing returns on Friday, with first post time at 7:15 P.M.
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