by Frank Carulli
July 27, 2020
With speed to spare, Semi Tough and I’m Very Special won in their respective divisions of $60,000 M life Rewards finals at Yonkers Raceway last week.
Semi Tough set sizzling fractions of :54.4 for the half and 1:21.4 for three-quarters of a mile en route to a 5-1/4-length victory in a personal best 1:50, just 2/5 of a second off the track record. George Brennan drove the 3-to-5 favorite for North America’s leading trainer, Ron Burke, in the M life Gents final.
More than four months had passed since the M life Pacing Series preliminary heats were contested before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the track. But the time away didn’t stop I’m Very Special from sprinting to the lead from post 8 and staying there for a 2-1/2 length in 1:52.2. Jason Bartlett piloted the M life Ladies champion for trainer Peter Pellegrino. I’m Very Special paid $8.50 to win.
WORLD RECORDS FOR PAPI ROB HANOVER, MANCHEGO
Papi Rob Hanover, runner-up in the Meadowlands Pace two weekends ago, bounced back with a world-record performance in the $375,000 Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids last Saturday at the The Meadows. He paced to a 10-1/2-length victory for driver David Miller and stopped the timer in 1:47.1, the fastest ever by a 3-year-old colt on a 5/8-mile oval.
“He came out of the Meadowlands Pace great, and he proved he needs to race. He just needs more racing,” said winning trainer Brett Pelling. “Every race has been better than the one before, so he’s on the right track.”
The following day at Plainridge Park, Manchego (Dexter Dunn) trotted to a world-record 1:49.3 in the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts, the fastest ever by an aged trotting mare. She won by 2-1/2 lengths over 2018 Hambletonian champion Atlanta as the duo renewed their season-long rivalry. Manchego increased her earnings to $2.34 million.
IN THE XPRESSLANE: Kent Sherman, who began training Standardbreds in 1991, notched his 2,000th win when Stanley K paced to victory at MGM Northfield Park earlier this month. … Anthony Napolitano drove his 3,000th winner on Artspeak at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono last Tuesday. Napolitano’s brother, George Napolitano Jr. guided 11-year-old Atta Boy Dan to victory a day earlier as the 2019 Horse of the Year at the Downs topped $1 million in earnings. … Ridge Warren drove all four winners in Hawthorne’s early Pick 4 sequence last Friday, rewarding those who bet on him with a $1,149 payout for a $1 wager. … Captain Corey became the fastest 2-year-old trotter in history at the The Meadows when he debuted with a 1:54.1 win in the $208,721 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt.