05/06/2017 2:28PM

The Meadows: Sensational seasonal debut for Huntsville in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes

Chris Gooden
Huntsville earned praise from driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Ray Schnittker after his win Saturday

Making his first pari-mutuel start of 2017, 2-year-old champion Huntsville served notice to his rivals with a 1:50 3/5 win over a sloppy track in one of four $37,820 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions for 3-year-old colt pacers on Saturday afternoon at The Meadows.

Driven by Tim Tetrick, Huntsville got away third while Eddard Hanover (Matt Kakaley) led to the 27 2/5 opening quarter.  Highalator (Vic Kirby), fresh off a win in the Weiss Series final at Pocono, moved from the pocket to briefly take over the top spot, but Huntsville was hot on his heels and grabbed the lead away en route to the 55 4/5 half.  Huntsville began to open up on the lead in the backstretch, stretching out the margin to five lengths at the 1:22 3/5 three-quarters.  The domination only continued in the final quarter, as Huntsville poured it on, and he would reach the finish line ten lengths ahead of Highalator.  Blood Line (Mark MacDonald) finished third.

“That was all him, that was Ray getting him ready,” Tetrick said. “I was hoping I didn’t have to go that fast. I wanted to save that for another month. He just dragged me around there — he’s that talented.”

Ray Schnittker trains and co-owns Huntsville, a Somebeachsomewhere colt, with partners Charles Iannazzo, Ted Gewertz, and Steve Arnold.  Schnittker and Iannazzo also bred Huntsville, who now has eight wins from 12 career starts and earnings of $708,724.  Sent off at 1-9, he paid $2.20 to win.

“I thought he might win by a length or two,” Schnittker said, “but I guess he’s right back to where he was last year. He looked really good.”

In the next race, which was the final of the four Pennsylvania Sire Stakes tests, Downbytheseaside (Chris Page), who set world records on a half-mile and a mile track last year and beat Huntsville in the Governor's Cup to polish off his rookie campaign, made his initial appearance of the year, and he would also pick up a victory.

Downbytheseaside settled in the fifth position early while Boogie Shuffle (Scott Zeron) went to the front and cut an opening quarter of 27 2/5.  Rough Odds (Brett Miller) moved out of fourth in search of the lead at that point, and he would obtain it as the field raced in front of the grandstands for the first time.  After Rough Odds found the front, Page cut Downbytheseaside loose first-over, and he would quickly gain ground, taking over first just past the 56 3/5 half.  Downbytheseaside kept first-over Normandy Beach (Kakaley) at bay to the 1:24 1/5 three-quarters, with that foe retreating back into the vacant pocket on the final bend.  Normandy Beach came back out for another bid in the lane, but Downbytheseaside was well in control, hitting the finish line a length and a quarter to the good in a 1:52 1/5 mile.  Boogie Shuffle wound up third.

“I thought he was a little dull getting out of the gate,” Brown said, “but Chris kept him really quiet. Last year we had trouble taking him off the gate. This was perfect for the first start. Everything went as easy as it could.”

The winner is another Somebeachsomewhere colt, trained by Brian Brown for owners Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and Diamond Creek Racing.  This was Downbytheseaside's ninth victory in his 14th try, and he has now banked $596,016.  Also dispatched at 1-9, he returned $2.20.

Trainer Brian Brown also won the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes opener as his Fear The Dragon (Trace Tetrick) won in 1:52 1/5.  Fear The Dragon came first-over out of third past the half on Donttellmeagain (Aaron Merriman), who chopped out panels of 27 3/5, 57 1/5, and 1:24 1/5, took over on the final turn, and went on to score by a length and a quarter over Photobombr Hanover (Tony Hall).  Donttellmeagain had to settle for third.

A Dragon Again colt, Fear The Dragon is owned by Emerald Highlands Farm.  He is now seven-for-13 in the win column during his racing career, and he has put away $251,551.  The 2-1 second choice, Fear The Dragon paid $6.20 to win.

Rounding out the winners in sire stakes action was Filibuster Hanover (Kakaley), who grabbed the second split in 1:52 2/5.  Positioned fourth through panels of 28 2/5, 55 4/5, and 1:23 1/5 set by Point Somewherelse (Merriman) and Machiavelli (Dave Palone), Filibuster Hanover rallied with a 28 3/5 final quarter to get up and win by a length and a quarter.  Point Somewherelse and Candell (Zeron) rounded out the top-three finishers.

“He’s a lot smarter and way more manageable to drive,” Kakaley said. “I think he has things figured out now. The front wasn’t too good in the early races, so I just tried to get him in the middle where he could make a big move on the end.”

Ron Burke trains Filibuster Hanover, a gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere, for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Joseph Di Scala Jr., J&T Silva Stables, LLC., and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.  Filibuster Hanover picked up his third career win and pushed his bankroll to $152,219.  The 3-5 public choice, Filibuster Hanover returned $3.20 to his backers.

--quotes courtesy of The Meadows--