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Harness Highlights: Longshots Hit Wire Together In Matron

by Frank Carulli

November 20, 2018

Poor weather forced several East Coast tracks to cancel last Thursday, but it’s a good thing the Dover Downs racing strip and photo-finish camera held up under the adverse conditions.

Dover Downs hosted four divisions of the Matron Stakes for 3-year-olds and the photo-finish camera revealed that a nose separated the top three finishers in the $193,750 final for colts and geldings. Dover’s two leading drivers – Tim Tetrick and Corey Callahan – navigated different paths before reaching the wire in a dead heat with longshots This Is The Plan (Tetrick, $17) and The Downtown Bus (Callahan, $20.60), nosing out hard luck Jimmy Freight in 1:49.1.

This Is The Plan sat in the pocket as Jimmy Freight sped through a :54.4 opening half mile and braced for a first-over challenge from favored Lather Up. The Downtown Bus followed the cover of Dorsoduro Hanover and came 3-wide for the stretch drive after the Breeders Crown champion stalled. Jimmy Freight was driven out to a 2-length mid-stretch lead but began to tire, setting the stage for the blanket finish.

Ron Burke trained This Is The Plan for his second Matron Stakes winner on the card. He also scored when 2-to-5 favorite Youaremycandygirl (Yannick Gingras) went wire-to-wire in the $159,350 Matron Filly Pace in 1:51.3. She finished 1-1/4 lengths in front of pocket-sitting stablemate Percy Bluechip (Matt Kakaley) to reverse the outcome from their meeting in the Breeders Crown.

Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt sent out both favorites in the Matron finals for trotters. Six Pack ($3) won his 15th race of the year in 1:54.1 in the colts and geldings division, but Plunge Blue Chip settled for third behind determined filly Custom Cantab.

Six Pack, a dual classic winner during a $1 million season, sprinted clear on the sloppy track and won geared down by 4 lengths over pocket-sitting Fashionwoodchopper (Gingras). Hambletonian runner-up Met’s Hall (Andy Miller) ranged up first-over but faded to finish fourth.

Custom Cantab ($17.80) made her first road trip a winning one, repelling several bids by runner-up Supergirl Riley (Tony Morgan) and Plunge Blue Chip to win by a head in 1:53.1. Hall of Fame driver David Miller hustled Custom Cantab to the lead and she stayed there to become the sport’s newest millionaire, proving the 28/14-10-4 record she compiled in Indiana was no fluke.