Favorites struggle in Penn National stakes
by Frank Vespe
Wednesday was a tough night for favorites at Penn National.
In the track’s three Thanksgiving Eve stakes, the three favorites finished third, seventh, and eighth, opening the doors to a 50-cent, all-stakes pick three that paid $83.80.
In the featured, $200,000 Fabulous Strike, favorite Weekend Hideaway (2-1) found trouble early in the race and again near the three-eighths pole and was done after that, fading to finish eighth.
Meanwhile, 14-1 shot Chief Lion meted out sharp early fractions — 21 2/5 for the quarter mile and 43 3/5 for the half — before kicking clear entering the lane. The David Jacobson held a five-length advantage leaving the furlong grounds, but it got awfully late awfully quickly for him, and that set it up for the closers.
Candip, ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, was the first to benefit, tackling the weary leader in the middle of the track and gaining the advantage. Measured finished with a rush in the final sixteenth but could not get to Candip, who won by a neck. Measured was second, a half-length ahead of Chief Lion. Running time for the six furlongs was 1:09.77.
Candip, trained by Michael Tomlinson for K Town Partners, recorded the second stakes win of his career and now has eight wins from 25 starts, with earnings of $392,044.
The first stake of the evening, the $100,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies for Pennsylvania-breds, saw the biggest surprise of all.
La Vitesse, the 7-10 post time favorite, had impressed in her last two starts, most recently a 14-length allowance win at Parx Racing. But last night, she encountered trouble while tiring and faded to seventh in the nine-horse field.
Rose Tree, on the other hand, delivered a boffo performance. The Jonathan Sheppard trainee, three and four wide on the turn under a confident Andrew Wolfsont, drew off to an impressive 3 3/4 length victory. Rose Tree, owned by breeder Rodman Moorhead, III, is by Harlan’s Holiday. She won at first asking, romping by nine lengths against Delaware Park maidens, and now has two wins from two starts with earnings of $80,400.
Early leader Ianthe held second, five clear of Peach Alley in third. Running time for the six furlongs was 1:11.24.
In the $100,000 Swatara, contested at 1 1/16 miles, favored Fabulous Kid managed the best finish any favorite in a stake on last night’s card — but that was just a third-place mark.
Instead, it was third choice Charitable Annuity (3.30-1) who successfully took his show on the road, leaving the friendly Charles Town confines to post a 1 3/4 length victory in 1:44.26.
Under regular pilot Antonio Lopez, Charitable Annuity loped near the rear of the pack during the early running, while He’s Achance took the field through a half-mile in 47.35 seconds and three-quarters in 1:11.45. He began to move on the far turn, angled out in the lane, and drew off to the win.
Grasshoppin loomed a major threat early in the stretch, could not go with the winner, but held second, while Fabulous Kid, who put a head in front at the eighth pole, finished third.
Charitable Annuity, bred in West Virginia by Donald Duvall, is trained by James Casey for Mark Russell. The son of Charitable Man now has 13 wins from 21 career starts, with earnings of $658,040.
The 10-race program handled a bit over $1.8 million. That was down from last year’s $2 million showing.