Lyons Sentinel, Blue Diamond Eyes favored in Clara Barton Pace

Plainville, MA — The $100,000 Clara Barton Mares Open Pace is the co-featured race to the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot that will be held at Plainridge Park on Monday (July 25). But make no mistake, this race does not take a back seat when it comes to competition. With three millionaires, one soon-to-be millionaire and speed all over the chart, there is no telling the outcome.

The morning line choices are Blue Diamond Eyes and Lyons Sentinel and that comes as no surprise. But the story goes a little deeper here as both have connections to Plainridge Park.

Lyons Sentinel won the Barton last year and tied the all-time track pacing record of 1:48.1 set by her former stablemate Shartin N. Tom Melanson photo.

Lyons Sentinel won the Barton last year and tied the all-time track pacing record of 1:48.1 set by her former stablemate Shartin N. Shartin N won the Barton in 2019 and 2020 and broke the track record each time in those victories. Jim King Jr. trained both mares and is the only conditioner ever to win this stake, and he’s looking to do it one more time.

“It’s unreal that I’ve won this race all three times it’s been held and if I were to do it again, it would be amazing. This is not a mediocre stake, this is a real stake. These are all top mares. I’m not a guy that feels pressure but I would like to say that after this year, I was still undefeated in this race.”

Lyons Sentinel is a two-time Dan Patch Award divisional champion and has earned $2.06 million during her career, yet she comes into this race with only $64,483 on her card this year. But she’s only had six starts in 2022 and is just now shifting into high gear.

After two consecutive wins and a seasonal mark of 1:49 in June, Lyons Sentinel drew post eight in her last two outings at The Meadowlands and chased Racine Bell’s 1:47.2 mile and :25.4 final quarter in the Perfect Sting and then Test Of Faith’s 1:47 world record effort in the Dorothy Haughton and still finished a respectable fourth in both. This week Lyons Sentinel has post one, Racine Bell drew post seven and Test Of Faith is not entered.

“It took her a little longer to get herself back together this year, for what reason I’m not sure. She has to work herself back into it and I think she now has. We’re hoping that she’s coming into form and every indication says she is,” said King. “She had a good week coming in. I trained her up Thursday and she was very good with it. There’s a lot of gate speed in here and that should definitely help her. Last year they were going like hell and Timmy (Tetrick) was raging in the hole with her. I feel if things go right for her she can win again. Maybe she likes that New England air. ”

Blue Diamond Eyes is the second highest money earner in this race with $1.3 million in the bank and she has been consistently good her whole career as a member of the Ron Burke Stable.

Blue Diamond Eyes has completely dominated the 4-year-old mares in the Kentucky Bred Series at Oak Grove, winning five consecutive races by a combined 14-3/4 lengths. Mark Herron Photoartistry.

At two she won the Pennsylvania Sire Stake and Kentucky Sire Stake final in two consecutive starts. She then finished second in the Bluegrass and International Stallion Stakes at the Red Mile and closed out the year winning the Three Diamonds at The Meadowlands. At three, she won two stakes in Pennsylvania before taking three more in Kentucky, including her 1:47.2 lifetime best effort in the Kentucky Championship Series. The following week she won again in that final, timed in 1:47.4.

This year she has completely dominated the 4-year-old mares in the Kentucky Bred Series at Oak Grove, winning five consecutive races by a combined 14-3/4 lengths. She is coming off a three length, 1:48.3 mile which was her best effort of the season and brings that five race win streak into the Barton on Sunday, looking to extend it to six.

“She’s a horse that needs races to get tight and every year of her career has been the same. It took her a couple of starts to get going again this year but now she’s tight and on a roll. She gets over any track well and a smaller track will not slow her down. My only concern is we’re asking her to come clear from Kentucky to Massachusetts. But if she’s good I think she’ll be aggressive and she’ll race them the whole mile,” said Burke. “I know it’s forecast to be really hot there on Sunday but I don’t think the heat will affect her at all because there’s nowhere hotter than Oak Grove, Kentucky and she’s been there for two months so she should be acclimated to it.”

Blue Diamond Eyes is owned by Tom and Scott Dillon who are from Maine and they have raced at tracks in New England for a long time. They compete a stable regularly at Plainridge Park besides campaigning horses with Burke all over North America.

“The Dillons are just awesome people and to be honest, that’s why we’re coming. Tom called and asked, would it kill her to come here, and I said no. He wanted her to come because Plainridge is home for them so I told him we’d bring her. They do what’s best for all their horses and they enjoy the sport and wanted to support that track, so that’s where they wanted her to be for this race,” said Burke.

Despite drawing outside post seven, Racine Bell will be a big factor in this race. As solid of an Open mare as you could find, she is only $80,000 short of breaking $1 million herself. She has been a dominant force at Yonkers for the last two years and won three of four legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker before finishing second by a nose in the final there this spring. She just won the Perfect Sting at The Meadowlands on July 2, going gate-to-wire in a lifetime best 1:47.2 with a :25.4 final panel. She is currently the second fastest and richest pacing mare in North America behind Test Of Faith and she gets away from that one this week.

Due to excessive heat once again in Plainville, Mass., on Sunday (July 24) with forecast highs approaching 100 degrees causing heat emergencies to be put in place in several areas, Plainridge Park has postponed the Spirit of Massachusetts day card of racing from Sunday to Monday (July 25) For complete entries for the program, click here.

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