WILKES-BARRE TWP. – A horse known to peak in the fall, Foiled Again proved that this may be a summer to remember for jockey Yannick Gingras and the Burke Racing Stables.
The nine-year-old pacer turned heads Saturday night at Pocono Downs, edging out Pet Rock by a nose to capture the annual $500,000 purse Ben Franklin Pace as part of the Sun Stakes.
It was one of four major races on the card. Tim Tetrick won the first two, guiding I Luv The Nitelife to a pull-away win in the James M. Lynch Memorial, while riding favorite Captaintreacherous to his fifth straight victory – all in 2013 – in the annual Max C. Hempt Memorial.
In the final race, 7-1 shot Corky piloted by David Miller rode the four post to an upset in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, outdistancing favorites Smilin Eli and Royalty for Life to return an investment of $16 on a $2 wager.
While each was significant, Foiled Again took the spotlight in the Ben Franklin.
The win meant an amazing number for the horse – reaching the $5 million mark for his lifetime.
“He gives me chills, I can tell you that,” Gingras said. “What an amazing horse.”
Foiled Again seemed to fit the bill – hitting the board in five of his first 11 starts in 2013. Yet, there were questions about peaking at the right time. Past performances have shown that the nine-year-old has a tendency of struggling in the summer, while bouncing back in the fall.
Gingras, himself, admitted that. The jockey jumped out of the sulky two races prior to Saturday at Tioga Downs before hoping back in the bike on June 22.
“At some point in the last five years, each of us probably wrote him off,” the jockey said in the winner’s circle. “But he’s never been any good in the Ben Franklin. We never got a check in it. He usually tails off at this time of year, and comes back strong in the fall. He’s a special horse.”
The three outside posts – Modern Legend, returning champ Betterthancheddar and Dynamic Youth – all raced to the lead around the first turn and down the first stretch.
That’s when Razzle Dazzle and Foiled Again made the first-over move. While Razzle Dazzle raced ahead on the backstretch, Foiled Again and Pet Rock remained within striking distance – coming down the stretch stride for stride before a photo was needed to tell that Foiled Again won by the slimmest of margins.
“I don’t mind first over,” Gingras said. “No offense to Razzle Dazzle, but I’ll take my shot. He’s a great horse in his own right, but I feel that we have a special horse. At this point, the $5 million, it’s a number. In reality, I want this horse to get the recognition that he deserves. At the end of the day, he may not always be the fastest horse, but he outlasted all of them. He’s been through three generations of horses. Some of those horses are retired or gone to stud, but he’s still around and banging around with four-year-olds.”
Tetrick stole the show in the first two major races of the Sun Stakes.
Breaking out of the No. 8 post on a sloppy track, the jockey navigated I Luv The Nitelife to the lead right out of the gate, and later, enjoyed a perfect pocket trip around the surface. He made his move coming into the homestretch, passing out Shebestingin – who led most of the race – and Charisma Hanover to the finish line in 1 minute, 50 seconds.
It was the filly’s fourth straight win.
“We were within two heading for home. I knew we had a winner,” owner Richard P. Young said. “I really tried to put the race in perspective. I asked, “How can we get to the front with five horses that want to be forwardly placed from the eighth post? I thought that we needed to get a little lucky. I wasn’t expecting it to be sloppy. It throws another equation in because you don’t know how she is going to react. She had never been on a sloppy track before.”
It wasn’t so easy for Captaintreacherous in the Hempt Memorial. Breaking out of the No. 9 spot, Tetrick trailed for most of the race – needing to go almost three wide in the final turn before clipping Vegas Vacation right at the finish line.
The horse is 5-for-5 in 2013, and has won 13 of 15 lifetime starts.
“The horse has a will to win. It just does what it has to do to win,” trainer Tony Alagna said. “When he landed second over, I knew we were in great shape. Great horses find ways to win. When you look through history, great horses maybe don’t have the perfect blood count all the time or maybe don’t feel perfect after a race all the time, but they win. That’s what great horses do.”
For Miller and Corky, the bigger pot of gold could be sitting at the end of the rainbow.
Because of his Beal win, the horse and owners are eligible for a $1 million bonus from the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen Association. Corky would need to win the Colonial Trot on Aug. 17 and a victory in the Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Colt Trot on Oct. 19 to claim in the prize. Both races will be held at Pocono Downs.
Corky stood near the front end Saturday in the Beal, and was able to chase down race favorite Smilin Eli for his third victory of 2013.
“The horses overcame a first-over trip to get to the wire,” Miller said. “I had a good feeling about him, I really did. He’s been performing the last few weeks. He’s getting better all the time. Tonight is another step, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed. Hopefully, we can hold on another month. Ever since Tioga, he’s gotten better. He started off the year real slow, but he’s stronger — especially in the last three weeks.”
Corky has six wins in 14 lifetime starts.
“He’s very laid back,” trainer Jimmy Takter said. “I always knew he had something in him. He’s been very consistent. He’s starting to come into himself.”