Chester, PA — Favorites tasted defeat in all four divisions of the John Simpson Memorial for 2-year-old colts and geldings on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 6) at Harrah’s Philadelphia, and all four winners took new lifetime marks.
Blank Stare ($19.00) took top honors among 14 freshman male pacers, dueling down prohibitive favorite Lake Charles for a 1:52.4 victory in the first of two $49,700 divisions of the Bret Hanover. Corey Callahan angled the gelded son of Bolt The Duer and Hypnotize first-over from fourth as Pennsylvania Stallion Series standout Lake Charles (Jason Bartlett) rated a comfortable :57.2 half mile. Up the backstretch, Blank Stare accelerated to force a quickening pace, sticking a nose in front past three-quarters in 1:24.4 before dueling for the entirety of the far turn.
Off the home corner, Blank Stare asserted and pushed clear of Lake Charles by 1-1/2 lengths, while Diamond Head (Austin Siegelman) finished third.
John Butenschoen trains three-time winner Blank Stare for the Harmony Oaks Racing Stable, James Crawford IV and the In Over My Head Stable.
The second Bret Hanover division saw Save Me A Dance ($31.20) and George Napolitano Jr. employ similar first-over tactics to grind down odds-on favorite Cigars And Port (Bartlett) on approach to the final turn. The Heston Blue Chip-Dance Hall Girl colt then outlasted a late rally from the second-over JK Lucky Charms (Eric Goodell) by a half length to win in 1:54.2. Alota Chips (Marcus Miller) lifted from third-over to narrowly miss the runner-up spot.
Save Me A Dance gave Napolitano one of two stakes wins on the card, and was the second half of a stakes double for owner Robert Key and trainer Andrew Harris.
Key and Harris also prevailed in the first $60,000 division of the Super Bowl for juvenile male trotters, when Sky Castles ($6.60, Bartlett) dug in through the far turn to parry a first-over challenge from 6-5 choice Loyal Fox Hanover (Victor Kirby) before sprinting away to win by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:56.2. Hopeusteponalego (Marcus Schoen) finished a farther 3-3/4 lengths behind in third. It was the second career win for the son of Conway Hall and Sand Piper.
Napolitano completed his stakes double in the second Super Bowl split with Hell Patrol ($10.40). The Yankee Glide-Day At The Spa gelding followed live second-over cover up the backstretch and vaulted three-wide to the lead just after pacesetter Barley (Kirby) broke stride nearing the top of the stretch. Hell Patrol lifted late to reel in 1-2 favorite Saxon (Bartlett) — who inherited the lead from the pocket — by a half length in 1:57.1. Kyrie Deo rallied from third-over to take third.
Marcus Melander trains two-time winner Hell Patrol for Courant Inc.
Racing returns to Harrah’s Philadelphia on Wednesday (Oct. 9), with a 12-race card due to begin at 12:25 p.m. Eastern.