06/24/2014 9:18PM

Pocono: Cinamony paying big dividends

Curtis Salonick
Cinamony was purchased as a yearling for just $3,500.

Size may matter in certain areas of life. But wallet size in the sport of harness racing is not always a true indicator of prowess. Take for example Cinamony, a three-year-old filly by first-crop sire Art Official. Trainer Alex Rice Jr. plucked her out of a yearling auction in 2012 for just $3,500. On Saturday she’s got as good a shot as any of the other eight fillies to capture the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial, one of a host of top stakes races on the $2.2 million Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Sun Stakes extravaganza.

“I would have liked her chances better if she’d drawn inside,” said Rice, acknowledging post six in the field. Cinamony drew the rail last week in one of three elimination heats and promptly disposed of last year’s Breeders Crown champion Uffizi Hanover in the stretch with a 1:50 3/5 career best mile.

The bargain basement purchase wasn’t a shot in the dark for Rice, who routinely looks for good buys and often finds them at the yearling auctions.

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“Her second dam is Mattaroni and she’s had some nice ones,” said Rice, “We really didn’t expect to get her for $3,500.” At the same time, Rice said he would have gone to between $8,000-$10,000 to corral the reasonably well-bred filly from the Perretti Farms consignment.

Cinamony arrives in the Lynch final after owner Michael Horn and Alex Rice Sr. elected to pony up $15,000 to supplement her to the race and pay an additional $2,000 for entry into the final.

“We had a tough time breaking her,” said Rice Jr., recalling the early days of February 2013. “She kept flipping her palate and we had to do throat surgery.” The surgery was a success but the owners elected to pass on a more lucrative stakes schedule instead relying on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program as a backstop and the potential to supplement as another down-the-road option.

“We figured even if she didn’t make the final we could race in the consolation,” said Rice of the Lynch gamble.

Last week’s impressive mile had driver Corey Callahan optimistic. “She was really good, let’s hope she draws well for the final,” Rice said of Callahan’s post race critique.

Rice trains out of a farm in Townsend, Delaware over a half-mile track surface. He’s got 12 in training right now and says his group buys four yearlings every year.

In addition to Cinamony, a $109,000 career winner heading into Saturday, the group paid just $2,500 for Keystone Honor and $7,000 for Cheers N Beers at the 2012 yearling auctions.

Keystone Honor earned $37,000 for Rice before being sold for $50,000 at the Meadowlands Mixed auction this January. Cheers N Beers earned more than $43,000 as a two-year-old and was sold for $20,000 at the same January sale.

The $300,000 Lynch is the ninth of 16 races on the Pocono card Saturday night. Cinamony, rated at 6-1 in the early line, will have to overcome the draw as well as a top group of three-year-old fillies. Leading the pack is Uffizi Hanover (post one), Sayitall BB (post two), and elimination winners Fancy Desire (post four) and Weeper (post eight).