Washington, PA — Southwind Gendry solidified his spot as one of the tops in his division Saturday at The Meadows when he blazed a Pennsylvania Sires Stake split in 1:49.4. Literl Lad Hanover captured the other division in the $153,856 event for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers, known as the Bye Bye Byrd, giving trainer Ron Burke a stakes sweep.
Purchased as a yearling for a relatively modest $30,000, Southwind Gendry exceeded expectations as a 2-year-old by winning the PASS championship, the Matron and divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes en route to banking $583,069 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, Knox Services and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby.
The Bye Bye Byrd was his first outing this year after a pair of qualifiers, but winning driver Yannick Gingras had no interest in a get-reacquainted trip, eschewing an early hole and urging the Always B Miki-Gambler’s Passion gelding to the point.
“I thought I had the best horse, so I put him in the race,” Gingras said. “He’s come back great. He’s filled out nice. He looks great and feels great.”
Southwind Gendry maintained the lead without a serious challenge, downing the pocket-sitting Chase H Hanover by three-quarters of a length, with Sweet Angel Boy third.
Although Literl Lad Hanover earned $99,678 last year, he paced somewhat under the radar in the powerful Burke stable. The Bye Bye Byrd may have been his coming-out party, as he exploded off the cones for David Miller midway through the final turn and pulled off the 17-1 upset in a career-fastest 1:51.1. Stonebridge Reef was second, beaten a head, while Water Sports Teen completed the ticket.
“I think we’ve found the way to race him — he’ll be a closer for a while,” Burke said of the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Latte Lady, who races for Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi and Wingfield Five. “We opened him up today. Last week at The Meadowlands he was hot and didn’t want to sit in a hole, he didn’t want to relax. I think that made a big difference.”
Burke indicated Southwind Gendry, Literl Lad Hanover and a number of his other 3-year-olds are eligible for the PA All Stars at Pocono but that he hasn’t finalized their schedules.
$100,000 PA Stallion Series Stake — 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers
Rifleman, Highlandbeachsbest, Crunch Hanover, Coalition Hanover and Bazooka Hanover each won a division of the Kentucky Derby Day co-feature. Trainer Chris Ryder enjoyed a triple (Rifleman, Coalition Hanover, and Bazooka Hanover) while Dexter Dunn and Scott Zeron each fashioned a double.
Highlandbeachsbest had some big-time performances in premier races last year, including an International Stallion win. But he had only one qualifier since shutting down last November, and Zeron said trainer Amanda Fine viewed the Stallion Series as a prep race for bigger things.
“This was a good tightener for him,” Zeron said, “but I think he’ll go right back to the sires stakes. He’s definitely that caliber. He showed it last year, but I think they did the right thing by him by sending him to this race.”
The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Rockn Highland shot the Lightning Lane to prevail in 1:51.1, 1-1/2 lengths better than Baklouva, with Mikibytheseaside third. Highland Thoroughbred Farm campaigns Highlandbeachsbest.
Elsewhere on the program, Lyons Skipper turned in the fastest mile at The Meadows this year when he sprang a 10-1 upset in the $17,600 Open Handicap Pace, scoring in 1:49.3 over Windsong Leo and Wild Wild Western. Tim Tetrick piloted the 4-year-old son of Well Said-CPA for trainer Paul Corey and owner Kenneth Ashba.
Live racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday, first post 12:45 p.m.