Brett McFavrelous sets Keystone Classic mark; Palone wins eight

by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Washington, PA — Though he hadn’t seen the lead at any point in his last three races, Brett McFavrelous roared to the front in Monday’s (Sept. 17) Keystone Classic at The Meadows and scored handily in a stakes-record 1:52.1.

The $140,598 event for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers was contested over three divisions, with Our Dragon King and Eddie Sweat also taking splits — each for Dave Palone. The stakes double highlighted a huge day for Palone, who won eight races — for as many trainers — on the 16-race card.

Chris Gooden photo

Brett McFavrelous won his Keystone Classic division on Monday at The Meadows in a stakes-record 1:52.1.

A four-race maiden entering the Keystone Classic, Brett McFavrelous had been getting away poorly and was dismissed at 56-1 and 55-1 in his most recent outings. Nevertheless, Aaron Merriman confidently hustled the McArdle-Pro Town Best gelding to the front, where he drew off to triumph by 5-1/2 lengths over 1-2 favorite Momma’s Jolt. Dragon Lore was third. The time knocked a tick from the stakes record previously shared by Wolfdancer Mindale, Runover Feeling and R Oliver Jackson.

“You hear a lot that ‘he’s way better than his lines show,’ but you could tell he has a lot of speed,” said Merriman, who enjoyed a triple on the card. “He’s a little funny about his mouth, so I thought he would be most comfortable on the front. I gave him a shot, and it worked out.”

George Teague, Jr. trains Brett McFavrelous for George Teague, Jr. Inc. and Ted Gewertz.

Hammered down to 1-9, Our Dragon King responded with a facile front-end victory in 1:52.2, 1-3/4 lengths better than Magic Tricks, with Clint Westwood third.

“He looked like he should handle those,” Palone said, “so I let him stretch out. I didn’t even release him until the head of the stretch. He finished well within himself. It’s hard to believe he didn’t make the sires stakes finals. He’s as good as any 2-year-old I’ve raced this year.”

Sam DePinto trains the Dragon Again-Fox Valley Monika gelding, who now boasts five wins and $144,411 in earnings, for Desyllas Racing, William Beck and Carol Rieken.

Eddie Sweat, Pennsylvania’s 2012 Stallion Series champion, settled into the pocket behind the quarter-poling Moonliteonthebeach, then blew by in the Lightning Lane to prevail in 1:52.4. Smokealittlesmoke rallied for place, a length behind, while Moonliteonthebeach saved show.

“He’s a late bloomer,” said winning trainer Tim Twaddle, who purchased the son of Allamerican Native-Popcorn Penny for LaSalle Racing Group for $10,000 at last year’s Hanover Adios Yearling Sale. “He was immature — still is, but he’s better at handling his speed. When he broke for Ron Pierce at Harrah’s Philly, Ron suggested we put a heavier set of hopples on him and take them up. That’s been pretty much the key. We kept him conservatively staked this year to let him develop. But if he comes back good next year, we have a few nice races for him.”

In the $22,500 Preferred Handicap Pace, a shuffled Schoolkids found wide racing room late to notch a 15-1 upset in 1:50.2 for Dick Stillings, trainer Mike Palone and owner New Jennaration LLC. Pair A Dice was second by a head, with Hickory Big Red third. The 6-year-old son of I Am A Fool-Game Bunny extended his career bankroll to $887,000.

Stakes racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday with a $140,000 Keystone Classic for freshman filly pacers. First post is 12:55 p.m.

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