Parx Racing saved the best for last.
The two stakes on the track’s December 30 card were both knock-down, drag-out affairs decided in the very last jumps.
In the Auld Lang Syne, for three-year-olds and up going 1 mile 70 yards, Adirondack King and Sailor’s Revenge dead-heated for the win. Then, two races later in the seven furlong Valley Forge, also for three-year-olds and up, Praetereo rallied from the rear to nip Whatsthequestion and Javerre to earn a neck win.
On a day that seemed to play to closers and horses on the outside part of the track, Adirondack King, in the Auld Lang Syne was neither. He was up on, and then just off, the sluggish early pace — a half mile in 49 3/5 seconds and three quarters in 1:15 1/5.
Meanwhile, Sailor’s Revenge was revving up from the rear. Last early, he split horses on the turn and zoomed to the lead in mid-stretch. But Adirondack King fought back, and the two runners hit the wire together, 10 lengths clear of Yougotthatgoinforu in third.
Horse to watch Easter Gift, sent off as the 9-10 favorite, was never much involved and finished fifth.
For five-year-old Adirondack King, trained by John Servis, it was the second stakes win of his career and pushed his career earnings to $404,074. The dead-heat gave Sailor’s Revenge, a Pennsylvania-bred trained by Kathleen DeMasi, the first stakes win of his career and bumped his earnings to $332,447.
Two races later, in the Valley Forge, the speed completely fell apart in a race in which horses that occupied the last five spots after a quarter mile were the first five to cross the line.
And it was the horse in last after a 46 4/5 second half mile, Praetereo, who was first at the end. The six-year-old Michael Moore trainee circled the field on the turn, appeared beaten in mid-stretch, and then surged late to earn the win by a neck over Whatsthequestion. Javerre, who opened a clear lead in mid-stretch before tiring, finished third.
Horse to watch Cu Chulainn found himself hung out wide as part of the early four-horse pace battle, never could make the lead, and tired to wind up ninth.
For Praetereo, it was the first win in 11 starts this year and the first stakes win of his career. He has now earned $424,622.