Anderson, IN — They had eight high quality rivals including world champion Guardian Angel AS, Breeders Crown victor Fiftydallarbill, Indiana champions Custom Cantab and Bridge To Jesse’s and defending champion Lindy The Great but it all came down to Atlanta and Gimpanzee on Friday (Sept. 25) at Harrah’s Hoosier Park in the $150,000 Caesars Trotting Classic. The mare and stallion did not disappoint as two of the most talented horses in the sport engaged in a scintillating stretch duel in which Gimpanzee narrowly prevailed.
Immediately subsequent to the wings of the gate unfolding, Guardian Angel AS (Tim Tetrick) assumed control from post position nine but he would only remain in that position after a first quarter in a spritely :26.3. That is when David Miller decided to steer Atlanta from sixth straight to the lead. The 5-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven appeared to relish the opportunity to obtain the lead and did not demonstrate any evidence of relinquishing that advantage as she led the field through fractions of :55 and 1:22.4 through the final turn.
Atlanta, however, was about to realize Gimpanzee and Brian Sears had other plans.
Gimpanzee was the slight favorite over the 2018 Hambletonian winner and settled in third for the first quarter after starting from post position six. When Atlanta moved to the front, Gimpanzee followed her hoofprints around the track, biding his time based on Sears’ guidance as to when he should find his best stride.
As these two horses trotted their way to the finish line it appeared Atlanta would hang on until roughly a sixteenth of a mile remained when Gimpanzee began to inch ever closer. As the mare dug in Gimpanzee continued to advance as did Lindy The Great (Andy Miller), but it was clearly a two-horse race.
Gimpanzee drew alongside Atlanta and in a flash was in front. On this occasion, it would be he and not the mare who would visit the winner’s circle at the Anderson oval. Gimpanzee recorded a final time of 1:51.2 as did Atlanta but his :28.1 final panel compared to her :28.3 final quarter-mile proved to be the difference. Lindy The Great held off a fast closing Crystal Fashion (Jordan Stratton) for the show spot.
“He wasn’t 100 percent up in Canada (for the Maple Leaf Trot) and he wasn’t as sharp as he was all year,” said Marcus Melander, Gimpanzee’s trainer. “I wanted to qualify him last week to see if he was back to normal and I brought him here because he was. This worked out for his schedule. He has Lexington in two weeks and then the Breeders Crown. The track was good here today and I’m thrilled to be back in a month or so. He always gets the job done, he can race down Atlanta like he did today. She’s an amazing filly but today we beat her and we’re happy about that.”
Owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, Gimpanzee has collected $2.43 million during his career and his record is now 31-23-2-3. He paid $3.60 to win.
Live racing will continue at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday (Sept. 26). With a daily post time of 6:30 p.m., live racing at Harrah’s Hoosier Park will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through Nov. 21, highlighted by the return of the Breeders Crown Oct. 30 and 31. For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule, please visit www.harrahshoosierpark.com.