Kenneth J sets record
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In a nearly scripted trip, Kenneth J and driver Jim Morrill Jr. got away third, but pulled to clear the field at the three-eighths and led the rest of the way home in 1:51. The time was a new career mark for the Bettor’s Delight colt and dropped his own 1:52.2 track record set last week in the eliminations.
In just his second start of the season, the defending New York Sire Stakes champion is now a perfect two-for-two, but will start next on June 9 in the eliminations for the $1.5 million North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack against tougher competition.
“That time is exactly where I wanted to go,” said owner Ken Jacobs, who named the colt after his grandson. “In 13 days he will have to go in 1:50 or 1:49, so this is right where I wanted him.”
Trained by Linda Toscano, the colt won by 2 ¼ lengths over elim winner Joey Rico and Lindy’s Bandit was third.
“He was cool breezing,” said Morrill of the trip. “I didn’t want to go too fast with him because he has a lot of big races coming up, but he did this very easy.”
Kenneth J is a son of Bettor’s Delight and was bred by Blue Chip Bloodstock. He has now earned $493,803 in his career.
Paula’s Best also set a new track record in winning her $132,625 Empire Breeders Classic final for filly pacers in 1:53.2. She dropped the former record of 1:53.2 by nearly two seconds.
The Pro Bono Best filly got away from the gate behind eventual third-place finisher JK Pure Pearl, but quickly took the lead and never relinquished it. She posted speedy fractions of :27.2, :54.1 and 1:22.1.
“She kind of got away from me in the second quarter, we went in :26.4,” explained driver George Brennan. “Then on the backstretch when the wind hit her, she let up a little and I knew I had to put some distance between us and the field, so I opened up enough to make sure she was safe.”
Bred by Fred Hertrich, the filly was purchased by Larry Roman for $175,000 after her first start as a 2 year old from prominent owner Jeffrey Snyder. She earned $139,000 last season. Roman was not able to see this stable star win the New York Sire Stakes championship last fall, but was on hand at Tioga Downs for this event.
“She’s game and she’s exactly what I want in a racehorse,” said Roman. “You can do anything with her and she doesn’t just have one move. I was extremely pleased with her today.”
Paula’s Best is well staked this year, mostly to Grand Circuit events on half-mile tracks, and Roman revealed that Brennan will drive the filly when ever possible. She is trained by Ross Croghan.
Also breaking track records were 3-year-old trotting gelding Light Headed, owned by Todd and Christine Schadel, who set a 1:58 mark and Mystic Gold, owned by Bonnie and David Aurichio, who set a 1:51.2 track mark for aged pacing geldings.
The threat of thunderstorms and rain never materialized and warm weather and a tight track allowed for the record-breaking day. (HHBNY)