Edging wide after 1-2 favorite Top Billing (Andy Miller) made a middle move to the fore, the Purple Haze Stables’ Solvato ($9.60) was able to just prevail in a thrilling stretch drive in the fastest of three $98,038 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions on Friday (May 18) afternoon at Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack.
The three-year-old son of Donato Hanover secured pocket position behind early pacesetter Not Afraid (Ron Pierce), tracking him through a :57.2 first half-mile. On the backstretch, Andy Miller guided Top Billing to the lead, and just upon clearing, trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer gave Solvato his cue, gradually advancing as Not Afraid began to weaken. Within a half-length of Top Billing at the top of the stretch, Smedshammer called upon Solvato for a good bit more, driven to prevail by a neck in 1:53.2. Top Billing held second, while Not Afraid was a laboring third.
Magic Tonight (Ron Pierce, 1:54.0) and Beer Summit (Ron Pierce, 1:54.1) were the other PASS winners.
The undercard saw Sevruga, of Howard Schneidler’s KDM Stables, establish an outright track record for four-year-old trotting geldings, winning by 3-3/4 lengths over Aisling in 1:52.1. Andy Miller was in rein to the SJ’s Caviar gelding in what amounted to be the second-fastest trotting mile ever at Harrah’s Philadelphia.