Lord Cromwell and driver John Campbell moved to the lead on the backstretch and were never threatened from there, cruising to a 5-1/4 length win in Saturday’s (May 6) $143,737 Dexter Cup for 3-year-old male trotters in a stakes- and track-record 1:55 at Freehold Raceway. Gustavo Fring finished second and Southwind Cobra was third.
The Dexter Cup is the first Grand Circuit event for 3-year-old trotters on the road to August’s $1 million Hambletonian Stakes at the Meadowlands.
Southwind Cobra, who started from post five, took the early lead from Sir John F and reached the opening quarter-mile in :28.1. Lord Cromwell, the 4-5 favorite, was on the move after Southwind Cobra hit the half in :57.3 and was in front by the time he reached three-quarters in 1:26.4.
“I knew they were going to trot out of there and he’s actually better from behind,” Campbell said. “Once I spoke to him at the five-eighths, he was gone. He actually finished well within himself. I was very happy with the trip. He was very handy. I think he’s got a pretty good future.”
Said winning trainer Ed Hart, “I loved the post position. A lot of it is post position on a half-mile track. We drew good and John drove him perfect and everything worked out.
“He’s got a big set of lungs. He just goes.”
Lord Cromwell, bred and owned by Carolyn Atherton, is not eligible to the Hambletonian. The horse was limited to four starts last year because of sickness and complications from being gelded.
“Looking right now, I’m sorry that we didn’t,” Hart said about the Hambletonian. “You never know. He’s staked a bit lightly. Last year we couldn’t really stake him heavily.”
Lord Cromwell paid $3.60, $2.80, $2.40.
The previous stakes record of 1:55.3 was set by Anders Bluestone in the 2009 Dexter Cup. Anders Bluestone shared the track record for a 3-year-old male trotter with Keystone Activator.
“He was super today,” Hart said about Lord Cromwell. “He’s just a really nice horse.”
Lord Cromwell, by Chapter Seven out of the mare Oh Oh Its Magic, is 2-for-2 this year and won two of his four races last season. He has earned $97,588 in his career.
Campbell, who is retiring in July to become president of the Hambletonian Society, won for the 10,655th time in his Hall of Fame career. He pushed his lifetime purses to $299.61 million. He ranks first all-time in driver earnings, leading No. 2 Ron Pierce by $84 million, and is ninth in wins.
Driver Yannick Gingras won both $36,850 divisions of the Lady Suffolk Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters.
In the first division, Gingras guided Princess Aurora to victory by 4-3/4 lengths over Sparkle Plenty in 1:57. Royal Pinot finished third.
Princess Aurora, trained by Jimmy Takter, is owned by breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. She is 2-for-2 this season and has won five of 13 career races, earning $309,277. Princess Aurora, who is eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks, is by Cantab Hall out of the stakes-winning mare Vulcanize.
In the second division, Romancing Rachel won by five lengths over Celebrity Ruth in 1:57.3. Southwind Prius was third.
Romancing Rachel is trained by Ron Burke, who owns the filly with Howard Taylor and the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi. It was her first win in four tries this year and second victory in 15 career starts. She has earned $59,655.
Also eligible to the Oaks, Romancing Rachel is by Muscle Hill out of the mare Tady’s Comer.