Pilgrims Taj kicks off 2010 with PASS win
from Harrah's Chester publicity department
Wrapping up 2009 with a one-length victory in the $600,000 Breeders Crown at Woodbine, Pilgrims Taj ($3.20) picked up right where he left off, taking a 1:55.4 victory in a $52,387 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division on Thursday (May 27) afternoon at Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack.
The three-year-old son of Broadway Hall saw a change of tactics from driver Mike Lachance, leaving for the lead as opposed to rating off the early tempo. "It was the first time in his life that he left the gate," explained Lachance. "He had an outside post, and it was a good opportunity. Before he wasn't mature enough to leave the gate, but today he was able to."
Pilgrims Taj had no issue making the lead and was able to dictate terms the entire race, facing no pressure at all through a :58.2 half-mile and a three-quarter split of 1:27.1. Despite showing a break in the stretch in his most recent Meadowlands qualifier, Lachance had no anxious moments when Pilgrims Taj bore out some coming off the far turn, citing a shoeing change in the past week. "When I qualified him the last time, we had a bit of a problem with the shoeing," Lachance continued. "It was corrected for this week and he was a different horse."
Given the change of tactics from last season, Lachance chased after Pilgrims Taj a bit despite no pressure from the pocket-sitting Mr McRail (Yannick Gingras). "He always likes to have a target, and last year he always did. Today, I just wanted to make sure he would trot all the way to the finish, and I only had to ask him for about an eighth of a mile. It was a good race for him today."
Pilgrims Taj took his 2010 debut in 1:55.4 by 2-3/4 lengths over Mr McRail, with B Winner K (Brett Miller) stalking throughout to hold third.
Lachance concluded, "He was good-gaited, he was nice and strong, and I was very happy with him."
Cassis ($2.40) was the fastest division winner, scoring in pillar-to-post fashion in 1:53.4 in rein to Tim Tetrick. Can't Lose (Corey Callahan), Hard Livin (Daniel Dube), and Kirty Dream (Dave Palone) also took their splits.
In the overnight feature Mares Open Pace, which went for a purse of $32,000, Southwind Tempo was the victim of her second consecutive upset, pushed to a grueling :54.0 half-mile before giving way to the first-over Teenage Paige ($19.00), who drew clear in the last 150 yards for her second straight 1:50.0 mile in rein to George Napolitano.
Live racing resumes on Friday afternoon, with first post at 12:45 p.m. eastern time. Be advised as well that there shall be a live card on Memorial Day (Monday, May 31), with first post also at 12:45 p.m. eastern time.