cover photo via Daily Racing Form
by Kimberly Rinker
Lexington, KY —A quartet of Explosive Matter International Stallion Stakes were contested for 2-year-old trotting fillies on a bright and sunny Thursday afternoon (Oct. 2) at Lexington’s famed Red Mile.
|Nigel Soult photo|
|Mission Brief trotted to a world record time of 1:50.3.|
In the second $80,550 division Mission Brief provided fans with another world record performance, trotting to a 1:50.3 mile with her nearest rival some 16 lengths behind her. Driver Yannick Gingras had the filly under wraps at the finish line in a simply electrifying mile over the red clay. The time was two-fifths of a second off the all-age record for distaffs in the sport of harness racing, set by 7-year-old mare Giant Diablo.
“She’s been here for two weeks and she’s been very good here — mentally. It’s never been a soundness thing with her, it’s always been getting her mentally sound for the race,” trainer Ron Burke said. “She’s a super freaky filly and Yannick has done a super job with her. She could have gone another direction, but Yannick has been very patient with her and today was the calmest I’ve seen her.”
Leaving nothing to chance, Gingras moved his filly quickly off the gate and right to the lead, with Waiting Room (Marcus Miller) settling calmly in behind him, with Gold Cora (Tim Tetrick) following in third. From there, it was simply a walk-over as Mission Brief cruised through easy fractions of :28, :55.1 and 1:23. After opening up five lengths going into the last turn, it was apparent no other horse would come close to the slick-gaited distaff as long as she minded her manners. Gold Cora got up for second, while Hot Start (David Miller) was third.
Owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi, Mission Brief upped her career earnings to $313,315 with the win, the sixth of her career in nine tries.
“She is just a special filly and also makes me nervous,” said co-owner Jerry Silva. “A filly with her kind of speed is just scary. She ranks right up there with some of the greats, including Muscle Hill.”
A $150,000 yearling purchase from the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale last fall, Mission Brief is by Muscle Hill, and is the third foal out of the Varenne mare Southwind Serena. She is a half-sister to Exemplar (by Andover Hall) 3,1:54.3s ($74,391).
The first $80,550 division went to team Takter and Flirting Filly, who stopped the timer in a lifetime best of 1:54.3 for driver Yannick Gingras. The daughter of Broadway Hall-Flirtin My Way-Mr Lavec was bred by Brittany Farms, who co-owns with Marvin Katz and AJ Libfeld.
“She felt good and I thought it was the right time to make a move when I did,” Gingras said.
Gingras positioned himself mid-pack as Ready To Ignite (Ron Pierce) took the field through the first turn to the :28 first quarter before relinquishing the lead to Flirting Filly just past the :56.1 half.
“She responded very well when I did move her,” Gingras added. “Her gait has never been a problem, but it’s been more her mind. The trotting hobbles seem to keep her mind on her business now.”
Gingras kept the filly well-rated, staving off challenges from several rivals through the 1:25.1 three-quarters and in the lane, where two horses broke trying to best his charge.
After a lengthy inquiry, the judges determined that second-place finisher Ready To Ignite — a full sister to Explosive Matter who made an untimely break just a few feet before the wire — would be placed as she finished. Aarena Hanover (David Miller) was third, with Kentucky Sire Stake champion Armatrading (Randall Jerrell) finishing fourth. Wiclet Hanover (Ake Svanstedt), the 6-5 favorite, had also made a break in the lane, finishing fifth, but was disqualified and placed seventh.
Flirtin Filly now has $71,121 in career earnings from ten starts, with a trio of wins and one second to her credit. She had taken her previous top mark of 1:57.1 en route to winning a $20,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series leg on Aug. 20 at The Meadows for Dave Palone. She had also won a similar contest on Aug. 12 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in 1:59 with her trainer Jimmy Takter at the lines.
Livininthefastlane and Tim Tetrick took advantage of a perfect rail trip to capture the third $80,550 Explosive Matter International Stallion Stake in a career best 1:53.4.
The daughter of Donato Hanover-Nicole’s Promise-Dream Vacation pushed her career earnings to $205,813 from four wins and two thirds in nine starts.
After sitting third behind the pacesetting Bee The Queen (Brian Sears) through fractions of :28.3 and :56.2, Tetrick guided his filly to the outside and battled Bee The Queen through the turn to the 1:25.3 three-quarter marker, before trotting well in hand through the lane to take the victory. Pad Princess (Marcus Miller) got up for second, while Bee The Queen held on for third.
“The last two races she’s really put it together and I’m the one lucky enough to be in the winner’s circle with her,” said Tetrick. “When my filly came out, she came out strong and she trotted all the way to the wire.”
Livininthefastlane was an $80,000 yearling purchase at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale at Harrisburg last fall for the connections of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband.
“This filly is very nice and raced well all year for us,” said Andy Miller, husband of trainer Julie Miller. “She was especially good in Indiana at Hoosier Park when she won the Kentuckiana Stake in 1:56 (on Sept. 20).”
Livininthefastlane is the second foal out of her dam, and is a half-sister to Mistresswithmuscle (by Muscle Hill) 3,1:55.1s ($72,625).
The fourth $81,550 division of the Explosive Matter International Stallion Stakes saw Concentration emerge victorious in 1:54.1, in what was certainly the most evenly-matched of the four legs of Thursday’s Red Mile features.
Sent off at 17-1 odds, Concentration and driver Brian Sears hadn’t been a factor in the mile until the late going.
Favorite (5-2) Lilu Hanover (Scott Zeron) left hard from the nine hole, trotting four-deep through the first turn before taking the lead just after the :28 first quarter. Love Me Madly (John Campbell) then rushed to take the lead going to the :55.3 half, while Shaqline (Yannick Gingras) pulled first-up to battle the leader to the three-quarter-mile marker in 1:24.2. From there, a cavalry charge ensued, with Concentration shaking loose on the outside and besting her rivals gamely in the final strides.
“Last week was her first time on the big track and today she showed she has the talent to be here,” said Sears. “It was a classic Lexington trip for her here and it worked out perfectly. Lots of action early and she was able to come home well.”
It took a photo to determine the rest of the field’s placings, revealing that Shaqline had held on for second, while Lilu Hanover had garnered third-place honors. Love Me Madly was a close fourth.
Concentration, a daughter of Conway Hall-Super Starlet-Muscles Yankee, notched her fifth win in 11 starts and pushed her career earnings to $159,505. She is a half-sister to Stirling Allstar (by Credit Winner) 3,1:59.3f ($25,582).