Sortie, reunited with his recently legalized Cornell Collar, made short work of his Currier & Ives division Saturday (June 3) at The Meadows, winning easily in a stake-fastest 1:54. The $118,424 event for sophomore colt and gelding trotters was contested over three divisions, with Moonshiner Hanover and Fraser Ridge taking the other splits — both for trainer Chris Beaver.
One of the most promising freshmen of 2016, Sortie began using a Cornell Collar to help him breathe after an examination revealed he has a short epiglottis. However, minutes before his May 20 seasonal debut in a Pennsylvania Sires Stake (PASS) at The Meadows, trainer Noel Daley was informed that Cornell Collars weren’t legal in the Keystone State. Stripped of the device, Sortie won his PASS split handily, but his worried connections took their case to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.
"We got a hold of one of the representatives on the board," Daley said. "She said we were lucky, since they were having a meeting in two days. They brought it up, and they were very quick in getting it done. The horse obviously was good last week, but I don’t want to be worried about it (his breathing)."
Legal at last, Sortie quarter-poled to the front for Andrew McCarthy and won geared down, defeating early leader Dover Dan by 1-3/4 lengths. Always a Good Time completed the ticket.
Sortie pushed his lifetime bankroll to $166,397 for Patricia Stable, Joe Sbrocco, Mario Mazza and Sortie Stable. Daley indicated the son of Explosive Matter-Win B would race next in a PASS at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Moonshiner Hanover also enjoyed a successful freshman campaign, banking $263,101. But after off-season surgery to remove OCDs delayed his return to the track, Beaver opted to ease him back in a soft spot, a PA Stallion Series event. He not only won that race, but the strategy also brought dividends Saturday when the son of Andover Hall-Madam Hootch outduled the 2-5 favorite, Giveitgasandgo, in the lane to prevail by a head in 1:54.3, with Lars Perry third.
"What a decision Chris made to put him in the Stallion Series where he didn’t have to go against the big dogs his first race," said winning driver Aaron Merriman. "That was probably what got us the win today. He was even better than last start."
Synerco Ventures, Bill Manes and Beaver own the Hambletonian-eligible Moonshiner Hanover, a $27,000 yearling acquisition.
Fraser Ridge’s sire, Triumphant Caviar, won a Currier & Ives split in 2009 for Beaver. On Saturday, Fraser Ridge upheld the family honor by pulling the pocket down the backside for Jim Pantaleano, opening a daylight lead and coasting home in 1:55.1. Meme Hanover was second, four lengths in arrears, while Muay Hanover rallied for show.
"I hoped he could follow cover as much as possible, but I don’t think the horse on the front was very good today, and he had to get out," said Beaver, who owns the $29,000 yearling purchase with Donald Robinson, Robert Mondillo and R.B.H. Ventures. "As soon as he’s out, he’s fighting the driver. He wants to just go. Luckily, he cleared down the backside, and it worked out."
He indicated Fraser Ridge would race primarily in Ohio until the fall, when he’s eligible to several rich late season stakes.
In the $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace, Sam Hill, the amazing 11-year-old, pulled off a 27-1 upset for Chris Page, trainer John Sullivan and owner Don Tiger, scoring in 1:50. The Artsplace-Apple Of My Eye gelding now boasts $544,672 in career earnings. (The Meadows)