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Harness Highlights

by Frank Carulli

July 1, 2019


The ‘Plan’ didn’t figure to include an upset victory over reigning Horse of the Year McWicked, multiple stakes-winning speedball Western Fame, or newly-minted millionaire Lather Up, to name a few in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace last Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. 

But This Is The Plan executed to perfection, parlaying a pocket trip into his first win of the year in the main event on the Sun Stakes Saturday card. 

Driver Yannick Gingras hustled This Is The Plan to the lead from post 5, then yielded to favored Western Fame (Daniel Dube), who carried his blazing speed to six wins and nearly $500,000 in earnings this year. McWicked (Brian Sears), out and moving before the half, grinded first-over and inched closer to the lead through a 1:20.4 third-quarter split. But This Is The Plan slipped through on the rail and out-kicked McWicked by neck in a lifetime-best 1:48.2. He paid $26.80 to win. 

“I thought if I could get a two-hole trip behind Western Fame, we could be at least second,” said Gingras, who drove the winner for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Lawrence Karr. 

This Is The Plan fit the blueprint on a night of pocket-sitting and upset winners as the favorites came up short in all of the six-figure stakes at the 5/8-mile oval. 

Stonebridge Soul ($8.80) set the tone in the $300,000 James Lynch final for 3-year-old pacing fillies. She sat off a spirited duel between pace-setter Treacherous Reign (Dexter Dunn) and odds-on favorite Warrawee Ubeaut (Gingras), with neither backing down through the final turn. Tim Tetrick guided Stonebridge Soul through a rail opening in deep stretch and she inched clear to win in 1:49.3 and hold safe a late bid by Zero Tolerance (David Miller) for a length score. Chris Ryder trains Stonebridge Soul for owners Henderson Farms and Robert Mondillo. 

Shake That House ($19.40) followed suit with a 1:49.2 win in the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial for sophomore pacers. He tracked Captain Victorious (Gingras) to the top of the stretch, angled out for running room and won by 2 lengths over late-running longshot Brassy Hanover (Corey Callahan), who completed a $438.80 exacta. Odds-on favorite Proof sat a decent, second-over trip but lacked stretch kick and finished out of the money. Hall of Famer Sears drove Shake That House for trainer Chris Oakes and owners Crawford Farms Racing, Alan Johnston, and Northfork Racing Stable. 

Marseille saved the best for last, springing a 57-to-1 shocker in the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot. Marseille (Ake Svanstedt) left quickly from post 7 and was followed by 46-1 Swandre The Giant through a :26.2 opening quarter mile. But the pace slowed dramatically in the second quarter as the outer flow developed. Osterc was first-over but broke stride near the mile mark. Green Manilishi S was forced to go 3-wide but stalled while providing cover to his stable-mate, forcing Greenshoe to rally 4-wide and make up five lengths in the stretch. He nearly did with a furious late burst, but Marseille held on for a head victory over the 1-to-9 favorite in 1:52.3. He paid $116 to win. 


Guardian Angel AS travels fast, but regular driver Jason Bartlett stepped off the gas pedal for a moment Saturday night that proved critical in a world-record run. 

Guardian Angel AS won the $175,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic in 1:52, the fastest ever by a trotter, 5 years old and up, on a half-mile track. But it was Bartlett’s crafty ride that enabled the $700,000 earner to post his fourth major victory at as many tracks since early May. 

Bartlett had the 4-to-5 favorite out and moving before the star-studded field reached the quarter pole, but Emoticon Hanover driver Jody Jamieson was intent on maintaining the lead and keeping Guardian Angel AS parked for as long as possible. 
Guardian Angel AS ranged up alongside on the backstretch, but Bartlett took a few looks behind him and appeared to restrain Guardian Angel AS from moving too quickly. The tactic proved critical when Guardian Angel AS forged to the lead in early stretch and held off a furious 3-wide rally by Musical Rhythm (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) to win by 1-1/2 lengths. 

“My first priority was to get him through the first turn without breaking,” said Bartlett. “Then, I got him to the outside and saw that Jody wanted to stay on the lead. So, I let him grind it out the rest of the way. On the third turn I knew I had it won.”