Wishing Stone sets stakes record in Maxie Lee; Economy Terror takes Betsy Ross

by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Chester, PA — The little guy stepped up big again.

Wishing Stone, known for his diminutive size, led from start to finish on Sunday to win the $250,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for older trotters by three lengths over Uncle Peter in 1:52. The time set the stakes record and equaled the fastest mile ever trotted at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Wishing Stone set the stakes record and equaled the fastest mile ever trotted at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

“He’s got a big heart, but he’s got a big gait too,” said Yannick Gingras, who drove Wishing Stone for trainer Ron Burke. “He reaches out real nice. He’s beautiful to drive and he trots like a big horse.”

The victory pushed Wishing Stone’s career earnings to $2.04 million. A 6-year-old horse, Wishing Stone has won three of six races this year and only a nose loss to Sevruga in the Cutler Memorial on May 18 prevents him from owning a four-race win streak.

Earlier on the card, Economy Terror made her first stakes-caliber start as a 4-year-old a winning one, capturing the $250,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for pacing mares by three-quarters of a length over Rocklamation in 1:51.1. Royal Cee Cee N, who won the event last season, was third.

“She showed up, which is good,” trainer Chris Oakes said. “It’s a tough bunch of aged mares and this was her first big test of the year. And she passed with flying colors. If today was an indication, it looks like it’s going to be an interesting year.”

It could be an interesting year for Wishing Stone, as well.

Co-owner Dewayne Minor (far right) celebrates in the winner’s circle after Wishing Stone won the Maxie Lee.

Wishing Stone has won 12 of 33 races in North America, plus five races in Europe. He spent nearly two seasons overseas, where his victories included the Grand Prix du Sud Quest, Kings Trophy and Copenhagen Cup. He returned to the U.S. last fall and made three starts, finishing fourth in both the Allerage Trot and American-National Stakes and second in a preferred.

“He needed some time off,” said Dewayne Minor, who previously trained Wishing Stone and owns the horse with TLP Stable, J&T Silva Stables and Deo Volente Farms. “He didn’t have enough time (last year) to set up for the races. Now he had the time to get himself together and get himself back to how he used to race.

“This is the result; this is what he does.”

As a 3-year-old in 2010, Wishing Stone won the Kentucky Futurity, Matron and American-National. His victory in the Maxie Lee Memorial was his first stakes-level win in North America since then.

Starting from post five, Gingras put Wishing Stone in front with a :27.1 opening quarter-mile and never looked back. The duo hit the halfway point in :56.4 and cruised from there. Uncle Peter was second and Modern Family finished third.

“I got a :29.3 second quarter, which was a nice breather,” Gingras said. “At that point I was thinking (to everyone else): Good luck.”

Economy Terror was a 1:51.1 winner in the Besty Ross.

In the Betsy Ross, Economy Terror benefited from a ground-saving trip behind early leader Drop The Ball while several horses, including favorite Anndrovette, were forced to race outside for the entire mile.

A 4-year-old mare, Economy Terror won for the 14th time in 29 career races and pushed her earnings to $1.49 million for owners Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, Ed Gold of Phoenixville and Chuck Pompey of Archbald.

“It was a perfect day,” Taylor said. “I couldn’t be happier; it’s just thrilling. I was with Matt and Chris last night and Matt said he thought we could win this race. Chris said I think we’re going to win this race. They shocked me.

“My whole family is here. I’m tickled to death.”

Economy Terror was named the sport’s best 2-year-old filly pacer in 2011 when she won eight of 11 races, earned $926,520 and became the fastest 2-year-old filly ever on a five-eighths-mile track by capturing the Three Diamonds Stakes with a 1:50.3 mile at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Last season, she won five of 15 starts and set the world-record of 1:49 for a 3-year-old filly pacer on a five-eighths track.

USTA/Ken Weingartner photos

Trainer Chris Oakes greets driver Matt Kakaley after Economy Terror won the Besty Ross.

On Sunday, Kakaley used his position from post No. 1 to get a favorable spot behind Drop The Ball, who started from post two. Economy Terror remained there until the stretch, then got to the front and held off Rocklamation and Royal Cee Cee N. Anndrovette finished fourth and Drop The Ball dropped to sixth.

The win gave the 25-year-old Kakaley the most lucrative open-stakes triumph of his career.

“I loved the draw,” Kakaley said. “I’ve sat behind her before and I’ve raced against her enough times to know she’s got a lot of speed. With the rail, my whole goal was to release one and that was (Drop The Ball). It worked out perfect. All I was worried about in the last turn was getting out. She was loaded. I was pretty confident.”

Oakes was feeling pretty good, too.

“You get a (trip behind the leader) to the top of the stretch and you’re a two-time world champion, good things usually happen,” Oakes said. “The bottom line, the trip was probably the difference in the race. They’re all great horses in there and she got the best trip of all of them. And she got it done.”

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