by James Platz, for Hoosier Park Racing & Casino
Anderson, IN — The stars of the Indiana Sires Stakes program converged on Hoosier Park Racing & Casino Friday night (Oct. 12) for the track’s annual Super Night program. Over the course of the 14-race card, trotters and pacers battled for more than $2 million in purses and year-end honors in the state. On a night when rain and cold conditions leveled the playing field, the leaders turning for home had a difficult time reaching the winner’s circle.
Trainer Verlin Yoder was the big winner on the program, collecting three sires stakes finals. He was one of the few that turned a front-end trip into a winning effort, picking up a victory with Kissessforall in the $220,000 Super Final for 2-year-old filly trotters.
Starting from post five, Yoder sent the favorite to the front and clicked off fractions of :28.1, :59.3 and 1:29.2 on a surface that started fast and turned sloppy. Turning for home, the Swan For All-Deliteful Debbie lass cruised home in :28.2 to win by 5-1/2 lengths in 1:57.4. Measuredperfection followed in second and Kota’s Swan raced third.
“When I got to the half I was licking my chops,” Yoder said of the trip and the fractions. “She usually comes home pretty good.”
The filly, owned by Yoder in partnership with Eleven Star Stables, added her fifth win from 12 seasonal starts. Bred by Alvin R. Fry and sold for $14,000 at the Hoosier Classic Sale, Kissessforall improved her seasonal earnings to $194,300.
Yoder’s biggest score came in the $220,000 Super Final for freshman trotting colts. Steering It’s A Herbie from post two in the ninth race on the program, Yoder handed Swandre The Giant his first defeat in Indiana Sires Stakes action, trotting to a 1:56.1 victory.
When the gate folded, the trainer sent his charge to the lead from post three and posted a :28 first panel. Swandre The Giant and Yannick Gingras moved from fourth on the backstretch, but had to move three wide around a stalled Airman Kelly to reach the front. Following the leader into the stretch, It’s A Herbie overtook the favorite and hit the wire three parts of a length ahead of his rival.
“I can’t race that horse into the stretch, I had to race him the whole mile,” Yoder said of the strategy employed with his colt against Swandre The Giant. “I was expecting him to come to me in the last turn. He came a little earlier than I had hoped.”
The Here Comes Herbie-Psychic Image colt was bred by David Schmucker Jr. and purchased by Yoder for $22,000 last fall. Collecting his third triumph in 12 attempts, It’s A Herbie’s earnings now stand at $242,000.
Churita’s bid to add yet another $70,000 Super Final victory to her resume was foiled Friday night by Yoder and his second choice, Compelling. The veteran placed his Swan For All-First Lady Two 4-year-old in perfect position in the last turn, and in the stretch the trotter headed the leader and favorite before reaching the wire a half-length in front, stopping the clock in 1:54.2. Churita and Trace Tetrick settled for second while Diamond Dagger and Ricky Macomber Jr. finished third. Bred by Lavon Miller, Compelling earned her fifth win in 14 starts, and her seasonal bankroll is now $91,690.
Yoder looked to add a fourth win on the program but had to settle for second best as Breeders Crown champion Fiftydallarbill and Trace Tetrick put away Katkin American in the $220,000 Super Final for sophomore trotting colts. The William Crone trainee took advantage of a pocket trip before springing to a one length victory, trotting the mile in 1:54.2.
Owned by John Barnard, Fiftydallarbill picked up his eighth victory of 2018. The son of Swan For All-CR Dixie Chick, bred by John L. Miller, boosted his earnings for the year to $360,998. The colt’s career earnings stand at $819, 948.
Besides Yoder’s hat trick, the feel-good story of the night came in the $220,000 Super Final for sophomore pacing fillies when 11-1 It’s Time For Fun crashed the party with a 1:54 upset over favored Voom Or Bang. The victory was a family affair as the Skydancer Hanover-Irwin’s Character filly was bred by Lynn Wilfong, trained by his son, Brett, and driven to victory by grandson, Kyle. Friends and family filled the winner’s circle to celebrate.
“This filly has a tremendous last eighth if you don’t have to show her a ton of air,” Brett Wilfong said of his filly. “When I saw him slide out second or third over, I thought, ‘Oh boy.’”
Making her 19th start of the year, It’s Time For Fun settled in third along the rail through a :56.3 opening half. Kyle Wilfong would move the filly into the outer flow, third over as the field raced into the turn. Moving wide in the stretch, It’s Time For Fun paced home in :28.2 to finish a length in front. It was the sixth win of the year, moving her earnings to $199,040.
Always A Prince, one of the best stories of the Indiana Sires Stakes season, closed out the $220,000 final for sophomore pacing colts with his 17th win in 20 starts. Trained by Tyler George for Carl and Melanie Atley, the Always A Virgin-Glorious Princess gelding was unfazed by lining up in the second tier.
Driven by Tetrick, Always A Prince raced fourth early on before Hoosier Park’s leading driver sent him to the lead, reaching the half in :56.1. The favorite would carry a three length lead into the stretch and cross the wire ahead by just over two lengths. Shnitzledosomethin and David Miller finished second followed by Just N Ace and Gingras.
Unraced at two, Always A Prince has banked $379,500 for his connections. Bred by Emerald Highlands Farm, he was a $30,000 purchase at the Buckeye Classic Yearling Sale in 2016.
Custom Cantab was much the best throughout the Indiana Sires Stakes campaign, and she finished in style, capturing the $220,000 final for sophomore trotting fillies in a 1:55.1 performance. The Mr Cantab-Custom Model miss, driven by Peter Wrenn, held off a closing Black Mamba As and Todd Warren late in the mile to win by a quarter-length. Red Rose Swan and LeWayne Miller finished third. The trotter is owned by trainer Chris Beaver in partnership with Donald Robinson and RBH Ventures Inc.
A $6,000 yearling purchase, Custom Cantab earned her 10th win in 13 trips behind the gate. She has earned $555,036 over the last two seasons, $340,550 of that coming in 2018. The filly was bred by Hoosier Standardbred Farm and Fair Meadow Farm.
Rockin Nola, at odds of 8-1, sprung the upset in the $220,000 Super Final for freshman pacing fillies. Guided by LeWayne Miller, the Rockin Image-Gottogetoutmore filly dashed a :26.4 last quarter to win by less than a length, covering the mile in 1:53. Queen Lagertha and Lady Capulet followed in second and third.
“She had talent right from the get go. We’ve been plugging away and she’s raced good. We’ve had to have a little luck to get to this point, but she’s had talent all along,” trainer Joe Putnam said. “We’ve been getting closer and closer each week. She’s been a finisher every week, so it kind of played into our hands a little bit.”
The filly notched her fourth win in 10 outings. Putnam owns the 2-year-old in partnership with Suttons Bay Racing and Novi Trot. Bred by Mahlon Lambright and sold for $15,000 at the Hoosier Classic Sale, Rockin Nola now sports earnings of $141,850.
Freshman Egomania and driver John DeLong used cover to their advantage and sprinted home to collect the $220,000 Super Final for pacing colts. The son of Always A Virgin-Has An Attitude kicked home in :28.1 to secure a 1-1/4 length victory in the night’s 10th race, tripping the timer in 1:53. Always A Vavoom, at 12-1, and Outloud rounded out the trifecta.
Bred by Brittany Farms, Egomania is trained by Shane Bowermaster for Brian Brown. The colt, now a winner in five of 11 seasonal starts, is owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo and John Fodera. The victory pushed Egomania’s earnings to $213,100.
Trotting stalwart Bridge To Jesse’s added yet another Super Final victory to his lengthy list of credentials. Trained by Roger Welch and driven by DeLong, the Jailhouse Jesse-Bridge To Nowhere 5-year-old annexed the $50,000 final for older stallions and geldings, completing the circuit in 1:54.3. Closing out the mile with a :27.3 last quarter, Bridge To Jesse’s finished four lengths ahead of Bluebird Reverend, with Milford’s Z Tam trotting third.
“When we put him behind the gate, we know he’s going to be there. He does everything we ask of him,” said Bo DeLong, one of the gelding’s owners. “He’s good on a track like this. He got a good trip. John drove him perfect and didn’t get excited.”
Owned by Welch, DeLong, Pat DeLong and Ray DeLong, Bridge To Jesse’s won for the sixth time in 19 starts. The victory was the 34th in 67 career starts. Bred by Michael and Randy Wilt, the gelding now possesses career earnings of $793,055.
Always Giggling left her connections in good spirits after claiming the $70,000 final for older pacing mares. Brett Miller steered the Always A Virgin-Giggles The Clown 4-year-old to a 1:52.2 score, one length better than E R Hilary. Nick Surick trains the mare, owned by Cornerstone Stock Farm, Phil Wiley and J L Benson Stables Inc. The victory was the mare’s fifth of the season.
Tookadiveoffdipper and Tetrick took command in the stretch to win the $50,000 final for stallion and gelding pacers Friday night, holding off 62-1 Ideal Ace by a length in a time of 1:51.1. Sent off as third choice in the contest, the Always A Virgin-Onceinabluemoon 4-year-old racked up his sixth win of 2018. Trained by Virgin Morgan Jr., the gelding is owned by Jane Cross, Mark Cross, James Hepp and Mike Brink.
Live racing will continue at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday (Oct. 13) with a 12-race card. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through Nov. 10. For more information on the upcoming entertainment and live racing schedule at Hoosier Park, please visit www.hoosierpark.com.