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|Balmoral Park (8/29/09)
Contact: Tom Kelley
MUSCLE HILL OVERPOWERS RIVALS IN AMERICAN NATIONAL
Electing to duck in order to avoid an early speed duel, driver Brian Sears positioned the 2009 Hambletonian winner in fifth as Southern Rocketop (Dave Magee) sped through an opening quarter in 27.3.
Easing to the outside as Southern Rocketop continued to lead the way past the half-mile mark in 56.0, Sears was able to pick up momentary cover from a first over Dr. McDreamy (Homer Hochstetler) as the trotters moved around the final turn.
“He knows when it’s time to go,” said Sears. “I knew there was some good early speed in this race so I decided I was just going to bide my time with him until I felt it was time to turn him loose.”
What looked like a perfect journey soon turned into “danger lurking” as Dr. McDreamy came to an abrupt halt right in front of Muscle Hill as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3.
“He was on the muscle pretty good so I didn’t want to rush him right up there in behind that horse,” Sears explained. “He’s an absolute pro and he knows what it’s all about and what he’s got to do to beat horses.”
Quickly maneuvering the World Record holder to the outside of horses, Sears found clear sailing in the center of the track for Muscle Hill, and the son of Muscles Yankee proceed to rip off a wicked 27.1 final quarter while leaving his rivals in his dust. Cruisealong (Trevor Ritchie) turned a nice ground saving trip into a second place payday while Southern Rocketop held on to finish third.
In the winner’s circle Sears had nothing but praise for Muscle Hill, who after finishing second in his career debut has rattled off an amazing 14 straight victories and almost $2 million in earnings for the ownership group of Jerry Silva, TLP Stable, Southwind Farm and Muscle Hills Racing.
Trainer Greg Peck was also quite pleased with the effort of his prize pupil.
“He’s pretty much like a Thoroughbred in that he stays in great shape without having to race a lot and that’s a big benefit for him,” said a beaming Peck. “Now we’ll head to DuQuoin and see if we can’t do the same in the World Trotting Derby there.”
Given a perfect steer by driver Tyler Buter, the royally bred daughter of Windsong’s Legacy floated away from post position six and was able to tuck in fourth as Pleasing Lady (Dave Magee) led the ladies through an opening quarter in 28.3.
Continuing to stroll along at a leisurely pace, Pleasing Lady continued to show the way to the half in 58.2. After seeing enough of the slow fractions, Buter decided it was time to move with Southwind Wasabi and the two began a steady grind as the field moved around the far turn.
“I would have liked to have had cover but I really didn’t use her that hard leaving and they weren’t going much in that second quarter so I figured I better get going with her,” explained Buter.
Moving to within a head of the leader as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.2, Buter was filled with confidence as he continued to reel in the pace setter.
“She was really digging in at the top of the stretch and I could feel that I still had plenty of horse for the stretch drive,” said Buter. “Even though I could feel the pressure coming from behind us I was pretty confident that we were going to win this race as we headed into the lane.”
With nothing but open stretch ahead of her Southwind Wasabi kicked it into high gear, flying home in 27.1 to post her third win in eight starts this season. Celebrity Juliet (Brian Sears), who picked up the live cover of the winner on the far turn, rallied to finish second while local hope Miss Vickie (Brandon Simpson) finished a distant third, nine lengths behind the winner.
Owned by the partnership of Chuck Sylvester, Neal Goldman, Margaret Dey and Jerry Silva, Southwind Wasabi has now amassed more than $290,000 in career earnings.
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