Ontario-bred Daylon Miracle stalked 2014 U.S. Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry from the pocket, then blew by the champ in the Lightning Lane to pull off a mild 5-1 upset in Friday’s inaugural edition of the $51,100 The Meadows Maturity for mare trotters four and older.
In the first start of her four-year-old campaign, Shake It Cerry led the field through a snappy 1:24.3 three-quarters but tired late and faded to fourth, beaten five lengths. Classic Martine, the 2014 Older Trotting Mare of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada, was buried from post nine and never got involved, finishing sixth.
Daylon Miracle triumphed in 1:53.3, four lengths better than Cowgirl Hall, with the winner’s stablemate, Anaffairtoremember, third. That gave locally based horses a sweep and provided a bonanza for bettors who backed them to show. With Shake It Cerry off the ticket, the show payoffs for the top three were $9.40, $19.00 and $22.40, respectively.
Dave Palone, who piloted Shake It Cerry, said there were no obvious problems with her as she suffered only the sixth loss in her 29-race career.
“She felt great,” Palone said. “I really got left alone the second quarter and got a nice breather up the backside. She probably just needed the work. She’ll be just fine.”
Winning driver Aaron Merriman, on the other hand, was sitting with a handful of live horse and knew it.
“Anywhere down the backside, I felt like I could have pulled at any time. She was that good,” Merriman said of the six-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur-Daylon Marvel, who now has banked $479,369 in her career. “But I was following a great horse and a great driver. David made my decision [to stay in the pocket] for me. His horse didn’t look as sharp, and I thought he carried her a lot farther than she would have gone with somebody else.”
Bill Bercury, who owns and trains Daylon Miracle and Anaffairtoremember, called it the biggest win of his career. He had spoken of a 1-2 finish for his mares days before the race. It was a bold vision, and Bercury’s mares nearly pulled it off with their 1-3 result.
“We beat the two best mares in the country from last year,” he said. “I’m very excited about that. I had a lot of confidence in both my mares. They both have a lot of heart. They both really like racing, and that means so much. I love them.”
He said his mares are headed to a May 3 stake at Miami Valley, where they expect to take on the best in their division again.
“You have to remember — this was the first start for the two mares we beat today,” he said. “Next week will be a little tougher. At least now we feel we belong there.”
The Meadows Maturity for stallions and geldings four and older is set for Saturday, May 2 as part of the track’s special Kentucky Derby Day program.
Friday’s card also featured the $33,700 championship of the Do Me Honor Pace for sophomore fillies, which was taken by Dobre Povedane in 1:54.2. The daughter of Well Said-Vysoke Tatry sat patiently in the pocket for Mike Wilder before exploding in the stretch to down the early leader, Somewhere Fameous, by one and a quarter lengths. One Over Par overcame traffic problems to earn show.
Dobre Povedane crossed the wire first in the series opening leg, but broke stride in the Lightning Lane after wrestling with Wilder and was disqualified. Following that episode, trainer Tim Twaddle made some rigging changes that Wilder said helped considerably.
“Tim made a couple adjustments,” Wilder said. “It’s tough with a green horse, going from track to track, never been here. In the first leg, it was kind of my fault. She wasn’t steering the best, and I kind of chased her off her feet.
“Tonight, she felt super behind the gate, and I thought I’d give her a chance. She fell in a good spot and raced great.”
David Prushnok and John Prushnok campaign Dobre Povedane.
Tony Hall drove five winners on the 12-race card while trainer Randy Bendis fashioned a triple. The pair teamed to capture the $22,500 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace with Certified Ideal, who poured through the Lightning Lane to prevail in 1:52.2 and extend her career bankroll to $321,972 for owners Mike Novosel Jr., Tom Pollack, James Walton and Bendis.
(Standardbred Canada With files from The Meadows)