Pennsylvania champion Windy Corner showed no signs of resting on her laurels in Tuesday’s Keystone Classic at The Meadows, rolling to her third straight victory. The $97,699 stakes for freshman trotting fillies was contested over three divisions, with Sonnet Grace and Magical Beliefs taking the other divisions.
Windy Corner sprang a 12-1 upset in the Sept. 1 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final, but Mike Wilder steered the 3-5 favorite more aggressively Tuesday, sending her to the front at the quarter. She downed Navarone Hanover — the Pennsylvania Stallion Series champ — by a length in 1:57.4, with Wizard Hawk third.
"She heard them coming and picked up the bit," Wilder said. "I drove her a couple times this year and had her in bad spots. I didn’t want that to happen today. She really raced well."
Erv Miller trains the daughter of Yankee Glide and Wind Stroll, who now boasts $192,805 in career earnings, for Tony Holmes and Walter Zent.
Sonnet Grace had a disastrous PASS final when she tried to run through the draw gate from post 9 and ultimately broke stride. She rebounded nicely for trainer-driver Rod Allen and Rod Allen Inc. in the Keystone Classic, reaching the point at her leisure and scoring in a stakes-fastest and career-best 1:56.1. Fast Reaction was second, 3-1/4 lengths back while early leader Keystone Abbey earned show.
"She didn’t give me any warning — just two steps and she tried to duck right out, and when I tried to steer her back, she ran," Allen said of the PASS misadventure of the daughter of Muscle Massive and I Believe, who soared over $100,000 in lifetime earnings. "But she’s pretty fresh. She was a little grabby today, wanted to go, wanted to do it. She’ll go to the Liberty Bell, and then we’ll decide about the Breeders Crown."
After her tough beat in the PASS final — she lost to Windy Corner by a nose — Magical Beliefs looked the best on paper. Indeed, the daughter of Cantab Hal and Frisky Magic was unhurried until Tim Tetrick moved her from third down the backside. She blew past the leader Rush Lane and prevailed in 1:57.2, 1-1/4 lengths better than Fate Smiled. Explosive Mel completed the ticket.
"She’s a sweetheart; she makes my job really easy," Tetrick said. "A lot of times I’ve had to put her on the front, but today, they were going enough, and she’ll always pass horses. So I was pretty confident. I never pulled her plugs."
Linda Toscano conditions Magical Beliefs, a career winner of $151,686 who has finished first or second in all seven career starts, for Highland Green Farms, South Mountain Stables and R-And-I Farms.
$88,100 Keystone Classic — 2-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace
Captain Victorious and Volley Ball Beach captured divisions in Tuesday’s companion feature.
After his fourth-place finish in the PASS final, Captain Victorious was hammered down to 2-5 — and he looked the part. The son of Captaintreacherous and Belclare idled outside until the field lined up, then bulled to the top and drew away, triumphing by 5-1/4 lengths for Andy Miller in 1:52.3. No Mas Amor and Actor Hanover were second and third, respectively.
"I kind of wanted to cut it, so when they settled, I took off and went to the front with him," Miller said. "He relaxes pretty good on the front, but when they come at him, he’ll zip up a little bit. He’s a lazy horse, but he responds when you ask him. He’ll probably go to Lexington next; he’s not staked late."
Captain Victorious sent his earnings north of $100,000 for trainer Julie Miller and owners Andy Miller Stable, Jean Goehlen and Caroll Huffman.
Although Volley Ball Beach’s chances were abetted by breaks from the favorites, Crimson And Chrome and Captain Panko, his uncovered power move to the front for Tony Hall was impressive nonetheless. He scored by three-quarters of a length over Loutenant in 1:54, with Union Station third.
"He’s a fast horse, but he doesn’t have the best mouth, so it makes it difficult sometimes for Tony to sit with him," said Norm Parker, who trains the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Alladorable for owner-breeder Bob Key. "He’s staked to a lot of things; we’ll just see where we go."
Hall and Wilder enjoyed driving triples on the 13-race card. (The Meadows)