Plainville, MA — The $1.4 million (est.) Massachusetts Sire Stakes kick off on Sunday (Sept. 27) at Plainridge Park and the 2020 edition looks to be one of the most competitive sessions to date. With the flexibility of the Massachusetts resident mare program, many of the eligible horses shipping in have already competed in other sire stake programs this year and are coming into these stakes in top form.
The 3-year-old divisions for both genders and gaits will take place on Sunday (Sept. 27) followed by the 2-year-olds on Monday (Sept. 28). Post time for both days will be 2 p.m.
Sunday’s card has 28 sophomores going postward including two 2-year-old champions looking to repeat at three.
Without A Warning (RC Royalty-Concentration) was the 2019 MASS champion 2-year-old trotting filly who ended the year with $188,160 on her card after sweeping all three legs and the final. This year the filly has been competing successfully in the New York Sire Stakes all summer, finished as the second highest point-getter in her division and made the $225,000 final for the second year in a row. In that race she finished a very solid third behind a runaway Hypnotic AM. Two starts before that she posted an impressive win 1:55.1 in a NYSS event at Yonkers Raceway and all tolled, has made $138,662 in only eight starts this year.
Her main competition is Dramatra (Trixton-Bourbon N Grits) who is a sister to 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty for Life. Dramatra has seen limited stake competition in New Jersey, making only five starts over the last two years. But she has been building an impressive resume recently in overnights at Plainridge where she has won four out of her last six starts including a lifetime best 1:55.1 outing in August. She comes into this first leg off a 1:55.3 win and looks to be tuned up and ready for a top effort.
Both fillies are trained by George Ducharme. Scott Zeron will drive Without A Warning from post three at 6-5 odds and Shawn Gray will steer Dramatra from post two at 9-5.
The other returning champion Sunday is pacing gelding Finnbar (Real Desire-Unbeachable) who is coming off a lifetime best win of 1:53.3 just two weeks ago. He followed up that trip with a solid second place finish after being parked out most of the mile. He has been racing consistently at Plainridge but has shown his best form in those two starts.
Wyatt J (American Ideal-Think Pink) rolls into town on the strength of a four-race win streak at Yonkers Raceway that saw him take a career best mark of 1:53.1. After two NYSS starts earlier this summer, Wyatt J found his groove in overnight races and looks to cash in during the month of October in Massachusetts.
Trainer Nancy Longobardi has Ron Cushing up behind Finnbar from post five at 7-1 odds while Wyatt J will team with Scott Zeron from post two at 9-5 for trainer Linda Toscano.
The 3-year-old male trotting division should be very closely contested having three standout performers.
Double Dealing (RC Royalty-Heather Spur) is another Ducharme pupil and was second best in the MASS final last year. In 2020 Double Dealing was very effective in the NYSS Excelsior A series where he made the $50,000 final. He has four wins this year and took a lifetime mark of 1:54.2 at Tioga Downs.
Then there is the powerful duo from the Domenico Cecere barn, Dazzling Lindy and Marquis Lafayette. Dazzling Lindy (Crazed-Lindy On The Rocks) finished third in the MASS final last year and has come back looking much improved. In only five starts at Plainridge, Dazzling Lindy has won three while finishing second and third in the other two. His wins include a lifetime best 1:55.2 outing last week. Marquis Lafayette (Ready For Cash-Highscore Kemp) has only four lifetime starts, but his single 2020 start is worth noting. It was a 13-1/2 length, 1:55.2 romp that gives immediate legitimacy to his presence.
Double Dealing drew the pylons for driver Shawn Gray and is 3-2. Dazzling Lindy and Drew Monti leave from post six at 2-1 and Marquis Lafayette starts from post five at 5-2 for Scott Zeron.
The 3-year-old pacing fillies are also closely matched with a former track record holder leading the way. Ry’s Red Rocket (Sunshine Beach-Mo Molly Blue Chip) broke the Plainridge track record for 3-year-old pacing fillies on July 23 when she went a personal best 1:52.2 mile. Whereas that mark has since been broken again, she has continued to race well through the summer and is highly regarded here.
She’s A Fireball (Western Maverick-Fire Can Fly) was the Maine Sire Stake champion at two but did not fare well in the MASS final after making a break. This year she has two wins, a new mark of 1:55.1 and was race timed in 1:52.4 while finishing only 1-3/4 lengths behind Ry’s Red Rocket in her track record performance.
Trainer Gretchen Athearn has Matty “Ice” Athearn up behind Ry’s Red Rocket who drew post six at 3-2 while Ron Cushing will steer She’s A Fireball from the pylons at 5-2 for trainer Heidi Gibbs.
The 2-year-old divisions begins on Monday (Sept. 28) as 33 first-year campaigners go postward.
The trotting fillies will go in two divisions in week one and each has a definite favorite.
Moni For Lindy (Credit Winner-Live Moni) competed twice in the NYSS this year, winning at Tioga Downs in 1:55.3. She won two starts ago in the Wood End Light series at Plainridge Park in 1:57.4 and is the even money chalk from post four in the short field. The Domenico Cecere trained filly will be driven by Scott Zeron.
In the second split, Me Too Baby (Muscle Hill-Baby Shaq) comes in off an impressive gate-to-wire victory in 1:58.2 in a division of the Wood End Light and looks to have a decided advantage over her competitors after that start. Me Too Baby is the 3-5 favorite off the pylons for Team Athearn.
The pacing males have several strong entrants and the weeks leading up to the finals should be interesting. Mullinax (American Ideal-Up Front Kellie Jo) was a star in the NYSS Excelsior A series this year, winning two legs before going a lifetime best 1:53.2 mile in the $50,000 final. Plus he has won four out of his last five starts, finishing second in the other which brings him into this race at his best for trainer Mark Ford.
Maui (Bettor’s Delight-Barbra Ann) had two impressive wins in 1:54 and 1:54.3 in condition races before falling short in his most recent effort in Plainridge’s Nauset Light series while stablemate Dancing Lew (Rocknroll Dance-Love Rocks) just took his mark of 1:54.4 at Plainridge after finishing fifth in his lone Pennsylvania Stallion Series start at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Both geldings hail from the Kevin Switzer stable.
Mullinax is 2-1 from post seven with Scott Zeron, Maui leaves from post two with Shawn Gray at 8-5 and Dancing Lew drew post six with Bruce Ranger at 7-2.
The trotting colts and geldings feature two more standouts from the NYSS. Incommunicado (Chapter Seven-Gran Cavalla) was the fourth leading point-getter among his peers and finished third in the NYSS final at Yonkers after cutting the mile and falling short by only a half-length. Trainer Ake Svanstedt will be making his first appearance in the MASS and looks to be one to beat.
Beantown Madness (Conway Hall-Armbro Archer) competed in the NYSS Excelsior B series all summer where he amassed four wins in five starts. In his last start at Plainridge he won by five lengths in a career best 1:56.1. Another George Ducharme trainee, Beantown Madness will have much to say in the coming weeks.
Incommunicado leaves from post six at 2-1 with Scott Zeron and Beantown Madness drew post eight with Shawn Gray at 3-2.
The pacing fillies offer a wide open affair that should go down to the wire. Rightfully Mine (American Ideal-Leah) finished as the third top point-getter in the NYSS and made the final where she drew poorly and had a rough trip. So Amazing (So Surreal-Teddy Ballgirl) was a NYSS Excelsior A star that also made that final and had an unfortunate draw. So Amazing beat Rightfully Mine at Plainridge Park in the Nauset Light series where she went a career best 1:53.4. Suzie Blue Chip (American Ideal-Betty Hill) comes in off three straight wins including her 1:54.4 best at Plainridge and a NYSS Excelsior B event.
Rightfully Mine drew post two for trainer Sheena Mcelhiney who has Scott Zeron up at 2-1, Ducharme’s So Amazing drew post seven at 5-1 for Bruce Ranger and Suzie Blue Chip starts from post six at 9-5 with Shawn Gray up for Eve Bergeron.
Here is the complete MASS schedule:
Sunday, Sept. 27
3-year-old first leg
Monday, Sept. 28
2-year-old first leg
Sunday, Oct. 4
3-year-old second leg
Monday, Oct. 5
2-year-old second leg
Sunday, Oct. 18
2-year-old third leg
Monday, Oct. 19
3-year-old third leg
Monday, Oct. 26
2- and 3-year-old finals