07/28/2017 11:00PM

Plainridge: JL Cruze shocks at 60-1 in Spirit of Massachusetts Trot

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Tom Melanson
Andrew McCarthy raises his whip in victory as JL Cruze hits the wire in the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot

A wild speed battle between Crazy Wow and Resolve helped pocket-sitting JL Cruze pull a 60-1 upset in the inaugural $242,500 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot on Friday evening at Plainridge Park Racecourse.  The time was 1:51 2/5, a new track record at the Boston area five-eighths mile oval.

Crazy Wow, starting from post two for Matt Kakaley, would get the lead in the early going and chopped out the opening quarter in 26 1/5.  Ake Svanstedt and Resolve landed in the pocket at that point from post six, but then Svanstedt popped out of the pocket ahead of favored Hannelore Hanover (Yannick Gingras), the lone mare in the field, as they raced under the wire for the first time.  Kakaley had no intention letting Svanstedt go, popping the plugs on Crazy Wow and forcing Resolve back into the pocket before the 53 4/5 half.

Just past the half it appeared Hannelore Hanover was readying a first-over bid, but then Svanstedt pulled again out of the pocket in front of her.  Hannelore Hanover stayed on the outside in the second-over spot, so JL Cruze (Andrew McCarthy), who had been in fourth in the opening-half, filled in on the inside and took over the two-hole trip.  Crazy Wow and Resolve would battle up the backstretch, with Resolve getting to within a head of the leader at the 1:22 three-quarters, and they would continue to duel around the final bend.

In the stretch Crazy Wow looked to overcome the hot fractions, but Resolve was hanging in to his outside, Hannelore Hanover was going three-wide, and JL Cruze was coming up the inside.  It was JL Cruze who closed fastest of all in the end, getting to the wire just over a length to the good over Hannelore Hanover, with Crazy Wow, Resolve, and Obrigado (Mark MacDonald) completing the top five.

"There was a lot of pressure up there early - they were rocking along," said McCarthy.  "I had my chance just getting through the first turn; that was the biggest concern.  After that, I was just hoping to get lucky and get out.  Going into the last turn I knew I had enough trot to get there.  It was just a matter of getting up the inside.

McCarthy had gotten to drive JL Cruze for the first time in a qualifier last Saturday at the Meadowlands, finishing third to Crazy Wow.  The horse had mainly been driven by the now-retired John Campbell in 2015 and 2016, and McCarthy noted that he got a little advice from the Hall of Famer.

"He's been a top horse for three or four years," McCarthy noted.  "Just to sit behind a horse like that is a great privilege.  I actually ran into John and said, 'what do you think I should do with this horse?'  He gave me a couple pointers, and it really worked out."

Eric Ell trains JL Cruze, a 6-year-old gelded son of Crazed, for owners William Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta.  This was JL Cruze's 28th career victory, and he has now earned $1,085,878.  He paid $123.60 to win.