Always B Laughin just misses world record in Simpson

Chester, PA — Always B Laughin and Easy To Please waged a fierce war through the stretch drive of their division of the Hardie Hanover, the John Simpson Sr. stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies. When the limestone settled on Thursday afternoon (Oct. 21) at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the Always B Miki filly Always B Laughin won by a neck in 1:48.4, tying Party Girl Hill’s divisional track record set by Party Girl Hill last year and missing the divisional world record, set by Kiss Me Onthebeach at Pocono in 2016, by only a fifth of a second.

Always B Laughin (outside) just edges Easy To Please in 1:48.4 in a Simpson Stakes division at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Thursday. Grace Zimmers photo.

Always B Laughin flew away from the gate and forced Easy To Please to settle into the two-hole before the :26.1 quarter before yielding to that rival through a hot :54.1 half. Favored Melania advanced uncovered up the backstretch but flattened before the 1:21.2 three-quarters, allowing Always B Laughin room to vacate the pocket under Todd McCarthy’s direction at head-stretch. Though Easy To Please fought gamely, Always B Laughin had stronger steps late in taking a new mark for owner James Morris and trainer Antonia Storer.

High Minded gave Todd McCarthy an event double and became the only Liberty Bell/Simpson double winner among the fillies with a mile in 1:51.

The victorious Captaintreacherous filly used the pole to advantage and set fractions of :26.3, :55.3 and 1:23.1. So Irresistible and Todd’s brother Andrew made life tough for the favored winner, but High Minded prevailed by a neck for trainer Linda Toscano, whose Camelot Stable shares ownership in the winner of $231,987 with Fred Wallace, The Bay’s Stable LLC and Steve Stewart.

So Miki Hanover has now won four of her last five starts after enduring the uncovered route and pacing by leader Chase Lounge to set a new mark of 1:50.1. Corey Callahan guided the daughter of Always B Miki, who won by a half-length, for trainer Jake Leamon and owners Michael Cimaglio, William Salmeri and Charles Elliott.

In the faster division of the Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies, known as the Elma, the Donato Hanover miss Melania rewrote her lifetime record to 1:53.3 by rallying out of the pocket for a three-quarter-length victory over favored Hot As Hill. A Hopeful Prayer parked the winner to a :27.1 opener before yielding, and Melania in turn relinquished command to trail Hot As Hill through middle splits of :55.4 and 1:24.4. Melania proved the stronger of the top two late, winning for trainer-driver Åke Svanstedt and owner Dr. Patty Hogan.

In the other Elma cut, the Bar Hopping filly Pub Crawl made the lead quickly from the outside post six, recorded fractions of :28.1, :57.2 and 1:25.4, then powered off to win by three lengths in 1:54. A winner of $395,075 in her career including several Grand Circuit events, Pub Crawl was driven by Andy Miller for trainer Julie Miller and the ownership of Marvin and Lynn Katz, Al Libfeld, and Sam Goldband.

Friday afternoon’s (Oct. 22) card features 3-year-old colts and geldings contesting their Simpson Stakes, with three divisions each of the Albatross, for pacers, and the Ayres, for trotters. There will also be three carryover pools into the Friday card: a $2,640.77 carryover into the first-race superfecta; a $2,532.26 carryover into the third-race Super Hi-5; and a $743.21 carryover into the seventh-race Pick-3. Program pages for the 12:25 p.m. card are available via the PHHA website.

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