Going into Saturday’s (Sept. 11) New Jersey Sire Stakes – Standardbred Development Fund final for 3-year-old filly pacers at Freehold Raceway, Mikala looked very tough to beat. She won the first leg two weeks ago by three-and-one-quarter lengths and was a winner of five of 11 races this year.
Not only did she win at 1/9 odds, she set a new track record, pacing the mile in 1:52.1, according to a press release.
Leaving from the inside post, Mikala began on top, but allowed Always B Laughin to take the lead and set the early pace, while racing in the pocket. Always B Laughin set fast early fractions, going the first quarter-mile in :27 and the first half-mile in :55.1.
As the horses neared the three-quarter point, George Brennan decided the time was right and moved Mikala out of the pocket and after the lead.
With little resistance from Always B Laughin, Mikala took charge and opened up a comfortable lead turning for home. The only question in the stretch was if she would set a new track record, and she did, breaking the old mark by two-fifths of a second.
The previous record was 1:52.3, set by Ticket to Rock in the 2010 NJSS final.
Mikala is owned by Joseph Davino, Brad Shackman, Anthony Peretti Farm and Drennan Stable, and trained by Nik Drennan. She has now won six times from 14 starts lifetime, with earnings of more than $150,000.
Earlier in the day, Imaginary Line won the second leg of the NJSS-SDF for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers.
Bouncing back from a fourth place finish last week in leg one, he won by three-and-a-half lengths in 1:52.3, two seconds slower than the 3-year-old record set by One More Laugh in the 2010 Cane Pace. That mark is also the all-time Freehold record.
Vinny Ginsburg had the winning drive for owners Robert Weinstein and Joshua Graber, and trainer Jenn Bongiorno.
The headliner of an action-packed Friday (Sept. 10) card at Freehold Raceway was the $50,000 Garden State Trot for 3-year-old fillies.
Off an impressive win in the first leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes – Standardbred Development Fund series, Hot As Hill was the odds-on choice. She delivered on her promise, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:56.4, according to a press release.
Leaving from the inside post position, Joe Bongiorno put his filly on the lead and cruised around most of the way.
Limoges, who won the second leg of the NJSS-SDF series last week, issued a mild challenge on the final turn, but Hot As Hill held her at bay and got the job done.
The winner is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Knox Services Inc. and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and trained by Ron Burke. She has now won seven times from 26 starts, with earnings of more than $190,000.
Earlier in the day, in the second leg of the NJSS-SDF for 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters, first leg winner Seventier got the job done once again.
Leaving from the second tier for trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer, he made his way to the front just after the opening quarter, and fended off stiff late challenges from Soot Hanover and Camden Hills for the win.
Seventier has won six times on the year from 12 starts and looms as the likely favorite for the Sept. 24 final. Purple Haze Stables LLC is the winning owner. The final time was 1:57.3, according to a press release.
The Sept. 10 card also featured two open events for pacing fillies and mares.
The Preferred Handicap went to Iron Mistress, who sat the pocket trip and got up in a 34/1 surprise. Vinny Ginsburg had the winning drive for owner JMF Racing LLC and trainer Jacob Stilwell.
In the Invitational Handicap, Bronskimackenzie A, who won the Preferred Handicap last week, rallied up the inside and prevailed by a neck in 1:54.2. She is owned by Tahnee Camilleri and trained and driven by Luke Hanners.
Sandwiched in between the pacing handicaps was the Preferred Handicap trot. Favored All Champy won by four-and-three-quarter lengths.
He moved to the lead heading up the backstretch the final time and drew away in the stretch, stopping the clock in 1:58. All Champy is owned by Howard and Joshua Kaufman, trained by Sofia Zingale and driven by George Brennan.