06/04/2016 11:14PM

Hoosier: Sophomore stakes action highlights Saturday card

Email
Linscott Photography
Matrix Of Luck won the Indiana Sires Stakes final for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers Saturday

Hoosier Park Racing & Casino highlighted the early stages of the 2016 harness racing season with the annual Hoosier Champions night in front of a packed house on Saturday, June 4. The evening’s 14-race card featured the first of five rounds of $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals for the 3-year-old divisions. With heavy rain in the area earlier in the day, the track was rated sloppy for the first seven races but was upgraded to good just before the stakes action got underway in the evening’s eighth race.

The action-packed night opened with the first $75,000 final for 3-year-old trotting fillies, and Oh La La La made a clean sweep of the opening round of the stakes action as she overcame the outside post eight to score in 1:56 1/5. Driven by Tyler Smith, Oh La La La took advantage of a second-over trip and used a 27 4/5 final quarter to score her second consecutive victory by two lengths.

Nothing But Nice and Ricky Macomber Jr. dictated fractions of 28 and 58 before Fawn De Savage and Dan Shetler applied pressure to the outside. Smith had Oh La La La were well-placed second-over and when he tipped his mount to the outside, she responded gamely. Just Jess and Doug Rideout, who were sent off as the heavy betting favorite, rallied gamely in the lane but had to settle for second place honors. Fawn De Savage maintained her position to round out the trifecta. Oh La La La returned $10.60 to her backers at the betting windows. 

“She’s had a couple issues,” trainer Jeff Smith noted in the winner’s circle. “We’ve worked on those, and she has really come around. We were really happy with her last week, but she proved tonight she is a really nice filly.”

Oh La La La has now won 5 of 14 lifetime starts and sports a career bankroll of $81,210. The daughter of Here Comes Herbie-Dandelion Dust has won two of her three starts as a sophomore and is owned by Tdtrot LLC.

Fresh off a win in his elimination last week, Bridge To Jesse’s turned in another dominant performance to score in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for 3-year-old trotting colts with driver John DeLong. With a final time of 1:55 1/5, Bridge To Jesse’s scored his second consecutive victory and established a new lifetime-best in the process.

DeLong sent Bridge To Jesse’s away from the gate firing from post nine to grab the lead through an opening panel in 28 4/5. Their lead would be short-lived as Trace Tetrick gave Fly Jesse Fly the green light, and they took control just before the half to set 57 4/5 and 1:27 2/5 middle fractions.

As the field turned for home, the stage was set for the stretch battle. DeLong tipped Bridge To Jesse’s to the outside from the pocket, and the Roger Welch trainee did the rest. Using a 27 3/5 final quarter, Bridge To Jesse’s trotted to the wire to finish four lengths in front of Fly Jesse Fly. Ktl’s Lucky Strike and Robert Taylor rallied late in the lane to round out the trifecta.

“Well, I knew we had to go forward off the gate from post nine,” driver John DeLong noted in the winner’s circle. “He’s very versatile and is very well-mannered. He’s great racing off a helmet so the trip couldn’t have worked out any better for us.”

With the win, Bridge To Jesse’s scored his 12th lifetime victory from 14 lifetime outings. The gelded son of Jailhouse Jesse-Bridge To Nowhere was Indiana’s 2-year-old trotting colt champion and has now pushed his lifetime bankroll to $356,593 for owners W. DeLong, W. DeLong, R. DeLong, and R. Welch.

On the pacing side of things, DeLong found the winner’s circle once again, this time with Seventimesavirgin in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for 3-year-old pacing fillies. With a final time of 1:53 1/5, Seventimesavirgin staged a big rally late in the lane to remain undefeated in three starts in her sophomore campaign.

DeLong left aggressively from post four and was able to grab the lead through an opening panel in 27 3/5. Rick Plano and Diamondtequilashot were the first to take aim at the leader, and DeLong yielded command at the second station in 57 1/5. Diamondtequilashot continued to call the shots at the three-quarter mark in 1:25, but the rest of the field was closing in.

While most of the challengers moved to the outside, DeLong moved Seventimesavirgin up the passing lane, and she employed a 27 2/5 final quarter to finish two lengths to the good. Shady Caroline and Ricky Macomber Jr. closed evenly to finish second while Au D Lox Bluegrass and Trace Tetrick were third.

“She’s a pretty special horse to us,” DeLong noted of the homebred filly after the victory. “She’s been perfect. We put her away on a good note last season, so she is really fresh and sharp right now.”

“She’s a big strong mare,” he continued. “This weather changing all the time can be hard on her, and she didn’t have the best week this week, but she raced awesome tonight. She is pretty special to us, my dad bred her, and she was raised right in our backyard. She’s as good as they come for us.”

Trained by John DeLong, Seventimesavirgin has now won eight of 15 lifetime starts. The daughter of Always A Virgin-Mrs Grant Seven has now accumulated $132,190 in lifetime purse earnings for owner Jesse DeLong.

In the very next race, Matrix Of Luck and Mike Peterson delivered as the even-money favorite in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings with a final time of 1:51. 

Uncmprmising Z Tam and LeWayne Miller were the first to get a call through the opening quarter in 26 1/5. Peterson gave Matrix Of Luck the green light down the backside, and he reached the front at the half in 55 3/5.  He then went on to the third station in 1:23 1/5. As the rest of the field started to close in turning for home, Matrix Of Luck found another gear. Utilizing a 27 4/5 final kick, Matrix of Luck cruised to the wire three lengths in front of a hard-charging Duel Of Truth and John DeLong. Ville Valo and Ricky Macomber Jr. rounded out the trifecta.

“Last week was the first time I drove him and he was awesome,” Peterson noted in the winner’s circle. “He was pretty aggressive last week, but he relaxed tonight and really raced liked a professional.”

“I knew everyone would be leaving for position, so we settled off the gate.  I also didn’t want to get him in trouble, so I had to move down the backside. He let me do what I want with him and really raced great. I’d like to thank his connections for the opportunity to drive him.”

Trained by Roger Cullipher, Matrix Of Luck notched the second win of his 3-year-old season from just three outings. Owned by Brian Carsey, John Mcgill, and Debbie Cullipher, the son of Rockin Image-My Taylor’s Maid was the 2-year-old pacing colt champion in the state of Indiana and pushed his lifetime bankroll to $$292,500 with the victory tonight.

--press release (Hoosier Park)--