East Rutherford, NJ — The trotting side of the Fall Final Four saw a favorite foiled and a favorite deliver.
Misfortune for 1-2 favorite Amigo Volo paid fortune for 3-1 second choice EL Ideal in the $505,050 Valley Victory Final — sponsored by Kentuckiana Farms — on Saturday (Nov. 23) at The Meadowlands.
At the gate’s acceleration Amigo Volo lost stride, racing distanced from the field while driver Andy Miller landed EL Ideal on the lead.
“It was just kind of my race from there,” Miller later said in the winner’s circle.
The Ake Svanstedt-trained Muscle Hill-Courtney Hall colt controlled the tempo through a :28.1 first quarter and :57.4 half as Amigo Volo hustled to come back into contact with the field.
EL Ideal faced his main challenge from Ready For Moni in the final turn. The latter drew to the leader’s wheel passing three-quarters in 1:26.1 but could only give pursuit in the straightaway. EL Ideal dashed away, hitting the finish 2-1/4 lengths better than Ready For Moni in a 1:53.2 mile, with Chestnut Hill — sitting the pocket the whole mile — taking third and Moveoutofmyway K fourth.
“Halfway down the lane behind the gate I saw (Amigo Volo) was a little unsteady,” Andy Miller said after the race, “so I didn’t know when he ran or what happened but I thought he probably ran when he didn’t move at the quarter.
“This horse is quick off the car and then he relaxes really good,” Miller also said. “Ake’s done a great job managing him and keeping him under control.”
Owned by Emp Invest Oy, EL Ideal won his fourth race from 10 starts, pushing his career bankroll to $523,934. He paid $8.00 to win.
Watch Race Replay here.
A couple weeks ago after Senorita Rita won the Kindergarten Classic final trainer Linda Toscano said some trotting fillies “got it or they don’t.” Her Chapter Seven-Lindys Head Nurse pupil continued to prove she may “got it” with a win in the $475,100 Goldsmith Maid, sponsored by Hunterton Farms.
Driver Scott Zeron positioned Senorita Rita third while Sister Sledge protected position from the pylons to grab the front moving to a :28 first quarter. Positions remained unchanged through a :56.4 half but Zeron made his move entering the final turn.
Sister Sledge scooted away from Queen Of The Hill in second while Senorita Rita tried to recoup ground trotting to three-quarters in 1:25.1. Circling into the stretch Sister Sledge appeared to have Senorita Rita measured, but Zeron kept his filly straight under urging to then surge by and nail Sister Sledge by a head in a career-best mile of 1:53. Hall Of Am S took third with Common Sense S fourth.
“(Sister Sledge) got a great jump on me at the three-quarter pole and it felt like an insurmountable deficit to make up,” Zeron said after the race. “But when I straightened up and my filly corrected I pulled the plugs and she went into orbit. It was a matter of ‘Where’s that wire?’ because I had to maintain her speed. As long as I did that I thought I’d get up.”
Owner Kenneth Jacobs opted to sideline Senorita Rita in July to ready her for a late-season campaign on the Grand Circuit. In eight starts Senorita Rita has won six, finishing no worse than second while also accruing $421,985.
“She was just beautiful; I really wanted to get her,” Jacobs said of purchasing Senorita Rita as a yearling for $285,000. “They pushed me a little bit on the price but that’s okay. I figure we’re even now.
“It’s nice to have a fresh filly this time of year.”
Senorita Rita returned $4.20 to win.
Watch Race Replay here.