By Ken Weingartner, USTA Media — Julie Miller had numerous reasons to feel good following Monday’s second week of qualifiers for 2-year-olds at Gaitway Farm. The trainer sent out five freshmen from her stable — four of them for the first time — and came away with four wins and a second.
Miller’s four victories led all trainers in the dozen 2-year-old qualifiers. Joe Holloway was next with three wins, followed by Ron Burke with two. Michael Russo, Jennifer Bongiorno, and Claude Huckabone III each had one.
Leading the way for Team Miller was female pacer Prideful, who debuted with a 1:56.4 triumph with Andy Miller in the sulky. Prideful, owned by the Andy Miller Stable and Andray Farm, was third at the half-mile point but used an explosive move to take the lead on her way to pacing her back half in :54.3.
“That was awesome,” Julie Miller said. “She’s been a model of consistency training down, I never had any complaints, but she didn’t show any real flash. The spark showed up about three or four weeks ago, and it’s been there ever since. I’m glad she did what I thought she could do.”
Miller enjoyed past success with the Prushnok family (Andray Farm) with Dan Patch Award-winner Lucky Jim, a trotter who earned $1.93 million lifetime. David Prushnok was interested in purchasing Prideful, a daughter of Always B Miki-Baby Cat, because of previous experience with the horse’s family. She was a $70,000 buy at the Lexington Selected Sale.
“We really enjoy working with the Prushnok family,” Miller said. “We love to have them back in the barn.”
Prideful was bred by David W. Miller of Kentucky. Her family includes Sheer Desire, a Grand Circuit winner and Kentucky Sire Stakes champion.
Two other first-time qualifiers, male trotters At Worlds End and Met Your Request, also won for Miller. Met Your Request won in 1:58.4 and At Worlds End won in 1:59.
Met Your Request is a son of 2018 Hambletonian runner-up Met’s Hall, a Grand Circuit winner who earned $1.29 million during his racing career in the Miller Stable. Out of the mare Quest Blue Chip, Met Your Request was bred by Iowa’s Dan Roland and purchased privately by Andy Miller Stable and Mr. Caroll Huffman.
“I like to support new stallions, especially one that I raced,” Miller said. “(Met Your Request) has been just kind of going through the motions, so I was surprised by this effort. That was a really good performance. So far, so good.”
Met Your Request’s family includes Dan Patch Award-winning mare Pizza Dolce, who is the mother of Bella Dolce. Last year’s Hambletonian Oaks champion and Dan Patch Award winner, Bella Bellini, is out of Bella Dolce.
At Worlds End (E L Titan-Lexi Marie) is owned by Riley Guerin’s and Sarah Young’s Seven Cedars Farm and was bred by Buck Haven Farm.
“They were tickled with him,” Miller said about the owners. “(At Worlds End) does his job really well. When I told Sarah he was going to qualify, she was so giddy and excited. It’s great to see that kind of enthusiasm. It reminded me of why I love this sport.”
Winning in his second trip to the qualifiers was Espresso, who was second a week ago when he made an early break but captured his division this week in 1:57.2. Espresso (Chapter Seven-Biscotti) led from start to finish for owners Andy Miller Stable, Louis Willinger, Mortgage Boys Stable, and Lars Berg. He was bred by Brittany Farms and purchased for $45,000.
“He made a little misstep last week, but it was my fault,” Miller said. “I changed some equipment on him. I surrendered and went right back to what he wanted, and today he was really nice. We were happy with him.”
Miller said her remaining starter, A Good Chardonnay, scoped sick following her second-place finish in her debut. She led for most of the mile before giving way to Princess Caitlyn.
“I thought she should have hung on for the win,” Miller said. “She just didn’t feel like herself today. It’s something I can work with. I can’t fix slow, but I can fix sickness.”
Holloway’s three 2-year-old winners on the day were male pacers Ammo and Sheer Terror and female pacer Cantgetuoutamymind.
Ammo (Sweet Lou-Beach Gal) was a repeat winner, stopping the clock in 1:56, the same time as in week one. Last week, though, Ammo led from start to finish; this week, he was third through three-quarters — more than nine lengths from the lead — before rallying in :26.4 to get the victory by a neck.
The colt is owned by Val D’Or Farms and Ted Gewertz. He was bred by Sergent Stables and sold under the name Lou’s Guy for $90,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. He is a half-brother to Grand Circuit winner Always A Miki.
Sheer Terror (Always B Miki-Economy Terror) made his second qualifier a winner, going from gate to wire in 1:58. The colt also is owned by Val D’Or Farms and Gewertz. He was bred by Chuck Pompey, Howard Taylor, and Edwin Gold. He was purchased under the name Don’t Fly Economy for $270,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. His dam was a Dan Patch Award winner and his half-brother Market Based won a Matron Stakes last year.
Cantgetuoutamymind (Always B Miki-Can’tgetenuffofyou) also won the second time out, sitting second for most of the mile before scoring in 1:56.1. She is owned by breeder Roll The Dice Stable and her family includes Wink N Atcha, a winner on the Grand Circuit and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion.
All three of Holloway’s winners were driven by David Miller.
Picking up victories for Burke were female trotter Princess Caitlyn and female pacer Esperanza Hanover.
Princess Caitlyn (Tactical Landing-Social Success) won on her second try this month, coming from second, more than six lengths back, to triumph in 1:59.3. She was purchased for $30,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Beasty LLC, J&T Silva Stables, and Knox Services. She was bred by Marlin Detweiler.
Esperanza Hanover (Sweet Lou-Emily R Hanover) won in 1:57.3 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Knox Services, James Simpson, and Weaver Bruscemi. The Hanover Shoe Farms-bred filly was purchased for $70,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. She also posted a win last week, timed in 1:56.1.
Yannick Gingras drove both Burke winners.
Russo saw male pacer Voukefalas (Lazarus N-Inittowinafortune) rally from fourth at three-quarters to win by 7-1/2 lengths in 1:56.1 with driver Jordan Stratton. He paced his back half in :55 and final quarter in :27.2. Voukefalas, who finished second last week when timed in 1:54.2, is owned by breeder Michael Pagonas. The colt’s dam was a Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund champion and earned just less than $700,000 lifetime.
Bongiorno won with female pacer Zanatta (Stay Hungry-Major Dancer), who was making her debut and stopped the timer in 1:56.1 with Joe Bongiorno in the sulky. The filly was first at the quarter, second at the half, avoided a breaking horse prior to three-quarters and came home in :26.4.
Zanatta was purchased under the name Kind Attention for $115,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by One Legend Stable. She was bred by Am Bloodstock. Her dam was a winner on the New York Sire Stakes circuit and a Breeders Crown runner-up. The family also includes Grand Circuit winner Bettor Be Steppin.
Rounding out Monday’s 2-year-old winners was female trotter U Gurl (E L Titan-Lady Cromwell) from the stable of trainer Huckabone. Driven by Stratton, the filly won in 2:00.4. She was purchased under the name Lady Fair for $18,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by James Crawford IV. Bred by Carolyn Atherton, her dam is a full sister to Grand Circuit winner Lord Cromwell.