The Red Mile will host North America’s best sophomores in competition on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Bluegrass Stakes action, including the sport’s current No. 1 ranked horse Confederate when he starts in race six, the first division for the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings.
Confederate cruises into his racing twilight with just a couple of races left before stallion duty calls at the end of his three-year-old season. The winner of $1.6 million will start from post six in the opening division of the $219,000 Bluegrass Stakes for three-year-old male pacers in rein to Tim Tetrick for trainer Brett Pelling. He enters off a six-race win streak with his most recent victory on Sept. 17 in the $400,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes final at The Red Mile. He will meet his stablemate Christchurch, who starts from post one, along with Little Brown Jug heat winner Ken Hanover from post three.
Following the trend of champions on track, the race following features Hambletonian champ Tactical Approach in the second of three divisions for the $234,000 Bluegrass Stakes for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings. The Nancy Takter-trained colt by Tactical Landing will try to rebound off a loss at 1-5 in the $400,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes final on Sept. 17. Scott Zeron has the drive from post seven as he faces off against Air Power, the Marcus Melander-trained colt by Muscle Hill once atop the ranks on the road to the Hambletonian who has since rebounded resoundingly to the tune of a 1:51 effort in the $275,000 New Jersey Classic on Sept. 8.
Earlier on the card, the Hambletonian Oaks champ hits the track with Heaven Hanover starting in race three, the first of three divisions for the $234,000 Bluegrass Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters. The filly by Father Patrick will also be trying to rebound – her most recent effort was a fifth-place effort in the $252,000 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes championship on Sept. 3. She encounters a contingent of fillies also looking to get back to the winner’s circle, including Quick Stop, recently scratched from the $381,000 Elegantimage Stakes final; Rose Run Yolanda, the Ohio champion who was fifth in the Elegantimage; and Walner Payton, who won an elimination for the Hambletonian Oaks but has since missed victory and was more recently sixth in the $400,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes final.
And then in the race following, race four, comes a showdown among the sophomore pacing fillies. The second division of their $159,000 Bluegrass Stakes set pins Sylvia Hanover, from post six, against her main rival Twin B Joe Fresh, from post seven. But that’s not all: those two have to contend with Kentucky Sires Stakes runner-up Strong Poison from post two, Kentucky Sires Stakes third-place finisher Charleston from post three, Adioo Volo winner Always B Naughty from post four and Simcoe winner Bellisima Hanover from post five – not to mention Kentucky Commonwealth winner Hungry For Love starting from post one.
Saturday’s card opens with the first division for the pacing fillies where McSeaside will look to continue building off her upset loss in the $300,000 Ohio Sires Stakes championship. Dexter Dunn grabs the drive on the Ron Burke-trained Downbytheseaside filly off a 1:51.4 victory in Delaware, Ohio and has the likes of James Lynch consolation winners Mollop Hanover and Front Page Story to face among three other fillies entered.
Race two is the opening division of three for the trotting colts and features 2022 Peter Haughton winner Kilmister on the comeback trail. The Chapter Seven colt trained by Marcus Melander lands post one with driver Brian Sears off a second-place finish to Ari Ferrari J in the $400,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes championship. Also drawing into this division are Espresso, a 1:53.3 winner last season on the Grand Circuit in Lexington, along with Hambletonian elimination winner Point Of Perfect and Kentucky Commonwealth champ Prince Of Honor.
The second of the three divisions for the trotting fillies goes as race five and gathers two state champions into competition. Railee Something, the Pennsylvania champ, will start from post two and right to the inside of Mommamia Volo, the upset winner in the Kentucky championship, from post three. Yannick Gingras will drive Railee Something for trainer Ron Burke and Todd McCarthy has the call on Mommamia Volo for conditioner Carter Pinske. Their competition also includes Ake Svanstedt’s Walner filly Special Way, last year’s Breeders Crown champ who was upended by 1-1/2 lengths in the Kentucky Sires Stakes final at odds of 2-5.
Adios Pace winner Cannibal will start in race eight, the second of three divisions for glamour boys. The Sweet Lou colt comes in off a brutal mile in the Little Brown Jug final where he parked through opening fractions of :25.4 and :53.3 before folding. Yannick Gingras stays with the Nancy Takter trainee from post two against a bunch that includes Kentucky Commonwealth winner Admiral Hill from post seven in rein to Dexter Dunn for trainer Chris Ryder.
Mambacita, another who excelled over the clay as a freshman, will try to rekindle that spark from post seven in race nine, the third division for trotting fillies. The Tony Alagna pupil by Tactical Landing scored back-to-back wins in the Kentucky Sires Stakes back in August and enters off a fifth-place finish from a parked mile in the $400,000 final. Scott Zeron has the drive from post seven.
The last pacing colt division, race 10, gives some class relief to Command as he escapes his stablemate Confederate off a runner-up effort in the Kentucky Sires Stakes final. Todd McCarthy drives the Brett Pelling trainee from post one against the likes of Act Fast, who was foiled as the 9-5 favourite in the $300,000 Ohio Sires Stakes championship, and El Rey, who was foiled as the 6-5 favourite in the $100,000 Kentucky Commonwealth final.
Bluegrass action on Saturday wraps with the last division for the trotting colts and draws Hambletonian runner-up Oh Well into post seven in the field of eight. Tim Tetrick will drive the Marcus Melander student as the 8-5 choice on the morning line against a bunch including Ake Svanstedt’s Kierkegaard K from post eight, Dire Straits from post three and Little Expensive from post one, among others.
Each Bluegrass division is named for Captaintreacherous (three-year-old pacing colts and geldings), Papi Rob Hanover (three-year-old pacing fillies) and Greenshoe (three-year-old trotting colts and geldings) and are sponsored by their respective stallion syndicates and Hanover Shoe Farms. The three-year-old trotting filly division is named for King Of The North and presented by Kountry Lane Standardbreds.
Saturday’s card has 13 races total going postward beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT). The Red Mile features a $5,000 guarantee in the Pick 5, starting in race three, and a $10,000 guarantee in the Pick 4, starting in race six. Both the Pick 5 and Pick 4s feature an industry-low takeout of 12 per cent.
(With files from The Red Mile)