Day At The Track

Champions night provides top harness action

08:53 PM 12 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Tj’s Top Pick,Harness racing
TJ’s Top Pick capped off his near perfect two-year-old campaign with a win in the $270,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Super Final
Dean Gillette photo

ANDERSON, Ind.—Oct. 11, 2019Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino played host to Hoosier Champions Night Friday, October 11, and the 14-race program provided harness racing action from start to finish.

The summer-long Indiana Sires Stakes program culminated with the crowning of 12 new champions, with purses offered exceeding $2.4 million. Showers and cold temperatures marked the evening, but Hoosier Park’s defending leading driver Trace Tetrick was red hot, piloting six winners on the card.

Tetrick reached the winner’s circle in the first four races on the program, but his biggest win of the night came with freshman trotter TJ’s Top Pick. The Swan For All-J A’s Ayd gelding entered the $270,000 Super Final with seven wins in eight starts. He wrapped up divisional honors for trainer Jeff Cullipher with an easy 1:55.2 triumph. Tetrick never pulled the plugs on the 2-5 favorite as Swan In Motion and Dude Included followed in second and third, respectively.


                                                                                     --Dean Gillette Photography

“This has been a dream come true this year with this guy. Near perfection and he just does everything right,” said Tom Pollack, who owns the freshman with Cullipher and Tetrick. “I think the more perfect he is the more nervous you get.”

There was good reason to be nervous. The $40,000 yearling purchase carried a nearly unblemished record into the final, as well as a target on his back. Drawing post eight, Tetrick wasted little time moving the favorite to the front and clicking off fractions of :28, :57.4 and 1:27.3 before swinging into the stretch a length in front of challenger Brigotto and Sam Widger. TJ’s Top Pick cruised to a one and one-quarter length victory with Swan In Motion closing for second.

“It worked out like I thought. I wanted to go forward off the gate,” Tetrick said in the winner’s circle. “I was confident the whole way. I never even took the earplugs out.”

Bred by Freeman Bontrager, TJ’s Top Pick collected his eighth seasonal win and returned $2.80-$2.60-$2.40. The victory raised his bankroll to $302,871 and completed a sires stakes campaign where Cullipher worked to keep his star pupil sound and at the top of his game.

“I can finally breathe; it’s been a long year. We started from the day we got him, but once he got his speed we noticed we had a true horse,” Cullipher said. “He’s a good horse, and he makes my job easy. This win is probably the best.”

Tetrick earned his first finals victory in the night’s second race, deftly steering Churita to a 1:54.1 score over rival Hannelore Hanover in the $70,000 event for older trotting mares. The seven-year-old Arizoom Lindy-Stonebridge Volare mare led gate-to-wire for trainer Matt Rheinheimer, and the victory pushed her over the $1 million earnings mark. Bred by Devon Chupp, Jackie Porter owns the $3,700 yearling purchase.

“She got to that million dollar mark the hard way,” said Rheinheimer. “She’s definitely one of a kind. She’s got a great attitude and she’s easy to take care of. She absolutely loves what she does.”

Churita picked up her 43rd career win, coming in her 107th trip behind the starting gate. Her career earnings now stand at $1,011,925. Hannelore Hanover, triple millionaire and former Horse of the Year, made her final Hoosier Park start for Burke Racing Stable.

The most exciting finish of the night came in the $270,000 Super Final for freshman filly trotters. Slight favorite May Baby and James Yoder took control after a :27.1 opening quarter as second choice Rock Swan got away fourth for Tetrick before moving first up racing into the turn. In the stretch, Rock Swan looked to be an easy winner, but May Baby fought back valiantly before falling half a length short. The Erv Miller-trained Swan For All filly held on to earn her eighth win in 10 seasonal starts, tripping the timer in 1:57.2. Rjz First Lady rounded out the trifecta.

“Off the turn I thought she was a winner. In mid-stretch she got lost a little bit waiting for somebody,” Tetrick explained. “She’s got a great attitude when it comes to wanting to win. She wants to beat everyone.”

Bred by Bobby Brower and Deb Garland, Rock Swan is out of Indiana Sires Stakes champion Jolly Jessica. She is owned by S&R Racing Stables and Anthony Lombardi. With the win, the filly raised her seasonal earnings to $354,481.

Tetrick added another sires stakes final with five-year-old Allthatgltrsisgold mare Golden Paradise, a 1:52.4 winner in the $68,000 final for older pacing mares. Trained by Tyler George, who owns the mare in partnership with Samuel Schillaci and Wrenn Jr. Racing LLC, the victory was the 10th in 25 starts in 2019. Bred by Victory Hill Farm Inc., the pacer now possesses $231,677 in earnings.

Six year old Bridge To Jesse’s added yet another ISS finals victory to his impressive resume. Trained by Roger Welch and driven by Tetrick, the Jailhouse Jesse gelding took control after the quarter and went on to win the $70,000 final for older stallions and geldings by three and one-half lengths in a time of 1:53.1. Bred by Michael Wilt and Randy Wilt, the win was the 39th career victory for the trotter, owned by Bo De Long, Pat De Long, Ray De Long and Welch. The veteran has accumulated purse earnings of $910,455.

In one of the most anticipated races of the night, Tellmeaboutit and Michael Oosting patiently waited along the rail before using the passing lane to capture the $270,000 Super Final for sophomore pacing colts with a 1:50.3 performance. The Alvin Miller-trained Tellitlikeitis gelding finished two and one-half lengths in front as Melissa Essig’s duo of Shamwow and Little Rocket Man finished second and third.

“We’re just trying to bring him along and teach him to race,” said Miller. “May of last year we had a pretty good idea of what he could actually do.”

What Tellmeaboutit did Friday night was stake his claim to the division title by claiming his fifth seasonal win. When the gate folded, Oosting settled in third as Little Rocket Man and Tetrick set the fractions. They would not leave the pylons throughout the mile, waiting for the stretch to slip up the inside to secure the victory. Bred by Lavon Miller, the gelding has not finished off the board in 14 starts. Miller and 81-year-old Twila Harts, who was on hand to celebrate the win, own Tellmeaboutit.

The victory increased the sophomore’s seasonal earnings to $238,655. Career earnings now stand at $324,055.

Three-year-old trotting colt Swandre The Giant showed his class in the $270,000 Super Final for sophomores. Driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke, the son of Swan For All cruised to a four and one-half lengths triumph, stopping the clock in 1:55. Gotwuteverittakes raced second and Wow Lester trotted third.

“I just wanted to take my time making the front, and once I got there, he’s just all class,” said Gingras. “When I asked him in the stretch, he took off and was real strong finishing.”

Spending most of the summer on the Grand Circuit, Swandre The Giant returned to the Hoosier State to pick up his first Super Final for owners Diamond Creek Racing, J&T Silva Stables and Howard Taylor. Earning his sixth seasonal win and 15th career victory, the colt has accumulated $390,563 this year, and his career bankroll is now $645,743.

One year ago, Grand Swan entered the Super Final as the top freshman trotting filly, only to taste defeat. Friday night she was dominant in victory, pushing to the lead after three quarters for trainer and driver LeWayne Miller and drawing clear by nearly three lengths to take the $270,000 final for three-year-old trotting fillies in 1:55 over a track rated sloppy. Haylie Ivy and Measuredperfection followed the favorite across the wire.

“I didn’t really know what to expect when we’re going for $250,000, crazy stuff happens. I wanted to protect my position and move her to the front or come first up, it didn’t matter,” Miller said of his strategy. “I was a little worried with the wind tonight coming first up, but she fought them off like she normally does.”

Victorious in seven of her previous 10 starts this year, the Swan For All-Queen Mum sophomore added her 16th career trip to the winner’s circle in only 23 attempts. Bred by Larry Miller Jr., the filly is owned by Grand Swan Racing, Go Fast Stable and Never 2 Late Stable. Grand Swan has earned $354,625 in 2019 and $542,500 in two seasons of competition.

Priceless punched her ticket to the Breeders Crown Friday night on the strength of a 1:52.2 effort. Driven by trainer Brandon Bates, the Rockin Image lass led the $270,000 Super Final for freshman filly pacers wire-to-wire, finishing six and one-half lengths ahead of the field to add her sixth win in nine starts. Foxy Rigger and Grace Rocks managed to finish second and third.


                                                                               --Dean Gillette Photography

“She is just game, loves to win, and loves to race,” said Bates. “We’ll load up Wednesday and head to Mohawk, give it a try in the Breeders Crown elimination.”

Bred by Mark Graber, Mervin Graber and Jacob Graber, Priceless was purchased by Bert Hochsprung and Kevin Miller out of the Hoosier Classic sale for $31,000. With tonight’s win, the filly has earned $328,662.

Odds On Osiris pushed ahead of leader Clever Character in the last turn and went on to score a 1:53 victory in the $270,000 final for freshman pacing colts for driver Peter Wrenn. The favorite finished two lengths better than Always And Again while Clever Character held on for third. Melanie Wrenn conditions the Rockin Image gelding owned by Odds On Racing.

“The colt’s a little green on the lead. I thought there would be more mixup in the first quarter, but he felt good tonight. When I got ahead with him, he felt nice,” explained the driver.

The $60,000 yearling purchase, bred by Merlie Schwartz, added his sixth win in seven starts. Odds On Osiris has earned $313,145 and returned $3.40-$2.40-$2.10.

Rockin Nola, two-year-old divisional champion in Indiana in 2018, collected her second Super Final victory Friday night with a 1:51.4 score. Driven by Joey Putnam, the Rockin Image sophomore used her late kick to propel to a two-length victory as second choice in the $270,000 event for pacing fillies. Favored Fully A Virgin settled for second and Lady Capulet raced third.

Drawing post three for trainer Joe Putnam, Rockin Nola raced ninth early as Play For Pay reached the quarter in :26.3. Pansy’s Image would brush to the lead on the backstretch as Rockin Nola joined the outer flow third over. The filly advanced to third at the top of the stretch and dashed home in :26.3 to secure her sixth win of the year.


                                                                         --Dean Gillette Photography

“The trip worked out like I thought. Wanted to get away sixth or seventh and wanted a good runway to get out,” Joey Putnam said in the post-race interview. “Winning with a filly like this is huge. It can’t get any better than this.”

Owned by the trainer in partnership with Suttons Bay Racing and Novi Trot LLC, Rockin Nola pushed her 2019 earnings to $238,822. Bred by Mahlon Lambright, the filly has banked $398,922 over the last two seasons.

Cullipher and Pollack teamed for their second Indiana Sires Stakes final in the $50,000 contest for older stallion and gelding pacers. Incredible Shark, sent off at odds of 13-1, sprinted home in :27.4 to finish a quarter-length in front of Rockin Speed in a time of 1:51. Sam Widger guided the Shadyshark Hanover five year old to his fifth win of the year and second in his last four starts. Tookadiveoffdipper paced third for John De Long.

Bred by Hoosier Standardbred Farm and Fair Meadow Farm, Incredible Shark returned $27.40-$11.20-$5.40 to his backers. The gelding improved his 2019 earnings to $105,674. He now possesses a career bankroll of $332,499.

To view all of the results for the 2019 Harrah’s Hoosier Park, please visit www.harrahshoosierpark.com. Live racing at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Saturday, October 12 with a 13-race card. With a daily post time of 6:30pm, live racing at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 9. For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule, please visit www.harrahshoosierpark.com

 

By: James Platz for Harrah's Hoosier Park

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