Hambo hopeful In Range kicks off campaign with hard-earned Meadows PASS win

Washington, PA — In Range was one of the top male freshman trotters last year, and the Hambletonian eligible was looking to kick off a huge sophomore campaign in Saturday’s (May 15) $150,507 Pennsylvania Sires Stake at The Meadows. But midway down the backside, he was passed by local favorite Jujubee. How would he respond? Quite nicely, thank you. In Range overtook Jujubee in mid-stretch and scored in 1:52.3, matching the stakes record established by Valley Of Sin in 2013.

The stake, known as the Hickory Smoke, was contested over three divisions, with Whiskey Blu and Johan Palema taking the other splits.

In Range overtook Jujubee in mid-stretch and scored in 1:52.3, matching the stakes record established by Valley Of Sin in 2013. Chris Gooden photo.

Marcus Melander, who trains In Range for AMG Stable, Kenneth Kjellgren, Tomas Asell and Rick Wahlstedt, said he wasn’t overly concerned when the son of Bar Hopping-Ilia yielded the lead to the local upstart.

“That horse came at him very fast, and In Range is a very laid-back horse,” Melander said. “Last year, he sometimes looked at butterflies, but he came back more mature this year. He has a lot of class, and he passed in the stretch pretty easy. We’ll keep him in Pennsylvania until the Hambletonian.”

The game Jujubee held second, beaten three-quarters of a length, with Lepanto third. In Range boosted his career bankroll to $436,087.

Speaking of local upstarts, Whiskey Blu and Jujubee had taken turns winning late-closing series at The Meadows, and Whiskey Blu also was facing what regular driver Dan Charlino considered his toughest test yet. He aced it.

“I absolutely think he’s competitive with these,” Charlino said. “He hasn’t run his best race yet. He likes the front, but I’m sure he’ll sit in the pocket if they go along a little bit. He’s come a long way, and we’re very proud of him.”

In the Hickory Smoke, Charlino gunned the Southwind Frank-Kendall Blue gelding to the point from post five, where he held off the pocket-sitting Capstone by a neck in a career-best 1:53.4. Mister Boinga completed the ticket. Ron Burke conditions Whiskey Blue, who has won nine of 11 career starts and never has finished out of the money, for Burke Racing Stable, Kitefield Stable and Weaver Bruscemi.

Johan Palema broke his maiden in 1:53.2. Chris Gooden photo.

Johan Palema was winless in six outings last year, but he was competitive in big races, leading trainer Ake Svanstedt to believe he would come back strong this year — with an adjustment in racing style.

“Last year he was on the front too often, and I think he got tired mentally,” said Svanstedt, the colt’s pilot Saturday. “I think we’ll race him from behind this year.”

Svanstedt’s insight was right on, as the son of Bar Hopping-Sobti Hanover followed the live cover of Arnold N Dicky and roared past in the stretch to break his maiden in 1:53.2. Arnold N Dicky was second by two lengths while Take All Comers earned show. Bender Sweden Inc. campaigns Johan Palema.

$60,000 PA Stallion Series — 3-Year-Old Colts and Geldings

The three splits in Saturday’s sub-feature went to Sunny Crockett, The Irishman and Ginger Tree Knox.

Sunny Crockett banked more than $110,000 at 2 and might have been looking to graduate to sires stakes this year. But driver Andy Miller, who piloted the son of Father Patrick-Moonlight In Miami for trainer Julie Miller and owners Willow Oak Ranch and Andy Miller Stable, said the horse is most comfortable in the stallion series.

“He’s just a notch below the sires stakes, but he’s pretty good in the stallion series,” he said. “Unless he really steps up, that’s where he’ll race. He’s very handy. He goes about his business and does his job.”

Live racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday when the program features a $1,783.25 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5.

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