Below the radar: What you missed this past weekend
Scythe won the WV Dash For Cash Breeders Classic. Photo by Coady Photography.
by Frank Vespe
Maybe you were paying attention to the biggest races around the Mid-Atlantic this past weekend, among them the Fabulous Strike at Penn National and the Willa on the Move at Laurel Park.
But maybe you weren’t paying as close attention to some of the other action. Here’s what you may have missed:
WVBC winners defeated at CT
Last month’s West Virginia Breeders Classics produced some stellar next-out performances. Those include Runnin’toluvya’s impressive follow-up win in the A Huevo Stakes at Charles Town and Late Night Pow Wow’s dazzling triumph in the Willa on the Move.
But not every WVBC winner has been so fortunate, and two of them tasted defeat this past weekend. Scythe, winner of the 4 1/2-furlong Dash for Cash, ran Thursday for the second time since the Classics, and for the second time he was defeated. Sent off the 7-5 favorite in an allowance dash, he closed willingly but still ended up fourth, though beaten by just three parts of a length.
And on Friday, another WVBC winner, Onion Juice champ Follow the Notion, tasted defeat, also in allowance company. The Gary Williams, Jr. trainee closed stoutly from the rear of the field in the seven-furlong test — his normal style — and earned second but never was a threat to winner Aaron’s Tap. That runner, third behind Scythe in the Dash for Cash, won by almost six lengths in 1:24.09 for seven furlongs.
Speed Kills at Penn National
No, no — doesn’t really kill. It just… uhh… wins races.
Three Thanksgiving Eve stakes at Penn National all went to horses that led at every call. Those runners included 23-1 Johnny Jump Up, the local interest in the Swatara. The Kimberly Graci trainee, with Julio Hernandez up, set fast fractions, disposed of favored Dr. Blarney, and then held off the late run of Monongahela, who loomed a threat but hung in the lane.
One race later, in the six-furlong, $200,000 Fabulous Strike, the Ed Coletti trainee Midtowncharlybrown did the same, zipping to the early advantage under Mychel Sanchez and never really being threatened while winning by almost three in 1:10.15 for six furlongs.
The three-stake sequence started with what might have been the most impressive effort of the trio, in the Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies for PA-bred two-year-old distaffers. Please Flatter Me, trained by Mark Reid, had to work for the early advantage, throwing down an opening quarter-mile of 21.98 seconds under jockey Alex Cintron, and drew away from there, winning by four lengths in 1:11.24 for her first stakes victory.
More Servis two-year-olds
Trainer John Servis made his biggest splash of 2018 at the Breeders’ Cup, when his Jaywalk was a dominant winner in the Juvenile Fillies.
But his barn is certainly not bereft of other talented twos, and two of them debuted this past weekend. On Thanksgiving Eve at Penn National, his Press Virginia, a Blame gelding bred in West Virginia, scored at first asking in a six-furlong test, winning by 1 1/2 lengths in a well spread-out field. Press Virginia was a $55,000 purchase for D J Stable at last September’s Keeneland yearling sale.
And on Saturday at Parx Racing, Too Much Johnnie, a Smarty Jones colt who is a full-brother to several talented runners, including the stakes winner Someday Jones, made his debut a winning one. With Frankie Pennington up, he obliterated the field of PA-bred maidens, winning off by seven lengths in 1:14.12 over a very slow Parx surface.