Commander Frank, Big Baller Beane win Keystone Classic splits

Washington, PA — Commander Frank finally began to live up to his connections’ lofty expectations, brushing wide through the lane to score in Wednesday’s (Sept. 28) Keystone Classic at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows. Big Baller Beane took the other split in the $75,300 stake for freshman colt and gelding trotters.

Mike Wilder wins with Commander Frank for trainer Rich Gillock. Chris Gooden photo.

Rich Gillock, who trains Commander Frank for Tom Brice, Bart Brice, Charles Receski and Ed Receski, said his group began the season with high hopes for the homebred son of Southwind Frank-Lady Athens.

“If I ever had a good colt all along, I thought it was this one,” he said. “We prepped him for later stakes, and he really disappointed me from the word go. He never made any breaks until we started racing, then he did. Now we have some catching up to do.”

On Wednesday, Commander Frank displayed some of that talent as he followed the live cover of Open Bar, peeled off at the top of the stretch and triumphed for Mike Wilder in 1:57.3 over a “good” surface. Early leader Dwight Hanover saved place, 1-1/4 lengths back, with Open Bar third.

Gillock said Commander Frank likely would try Grand Circuit racing at the Red Mile before his connections consider the Breeders Crown and the Matron, as he’s eligible to both.

In his victory, Big Baller Beane showed that the moves you don’t make in a race sometimes can be decisive. That happened when Brady Brown considered retaking the lead with him at the three-eighths, then thought better of it.

“I thought about it,” Brown said. “Then my colt started stepping around a little bit, so I just tucked back in. My horse likes a target anyway. The track’s not the best today, so I hurried up and got back in the hole.”

Big Baller Beane and Brady Brown take a division of the Keystone Classic. Chris Gooden photo.

The Father Patrick-Global Desire gelding enjoyed his pocket trip, roaring past Biscoe in mid-stretch to win in a career-best 1:58.1. Big Boy Ernest rallied for second, beaten 3/4 lengths, while Biscoe saved show. Steve Schoeffel conditions Big Baller Beane for Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel, James Reuther and Roger Romesser.

In the $17,600 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace, Continualou took advantage of suicidal early fractions to rally from worst to first and spring a 12-1 upset in 1:52.2 for Dan Charlino, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The 4-year-old daughter of Sweet Lou-Continual Velocity vaulted over $400,000 in career earnings. All Day Sunshine and Ourlittlemiracle rounded out the ticket.

Burke fashioned a four-bagger on the 13-race card while Aaron Merriman. Charlino and Wilder each enjoyed a triple.

Thursday’s 13-race program at The Meadows features an $82,889 Keystone Classic for freshman filly pacers. On the wagering front, the card offers a $2,676.31 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 p.m.

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