February 2014 | Standardbreds with Pennsylvania Connections are Dan Patch Winners
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Standardbreds with Pennsylvania Connections
are Dan Patch Winners

February 2014 - Kimberly French

Shake It CerryShake It Cerry was voted harness racing's top two year old trotting filly for 2013 by the United States Harness Writer's Association. Of eleven races in 2013, the filly won eight and was second twice, with earnings of $827,796.
Photo credit: Ken Weingartner/US Trotting Association.

As 2013 drew to a close and the new year loomed, members of the United States Harness Writers Association began poring over statistics to determine which horses would be crowned as the year’s Dan Patch Award champions. On December 19 the fruits of their labor were revealed and three horses from the Keystone State made the grade.

Following in the hoofprints of her father and mother, who were also juvenile champions, Shake It Cerry, a daughter of Donato Hanover and Solveig, was voted the sport’s top 2-year-old trotting filly. This was no easy feat considering this crop may be the best set of trotting fillies ever to be produced, but her conditioner, Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter feels this filly has the tools to become one of the top trotting females harness racing has witnessed.

“Ron Pierce said she was the best 2-year-old filly he’s ever sat behind and he’s driven a lot of outstanding horses,” said Takter, the filly’s conditioner. “I agree with him and think she is the best 2-year-old filly I have ever been associated with.”

Owned by the Solveig Racing Partners of East Windsor, NJ, Shake It Cerry, came into this world on May 28, 2011 in Littlestown, Pa. She is a full sister to Solvato (h, 1:53.2, $300,931) and a half sister to former world record holder Dontyouforgetit (Cantab Hall, h, 1:52.1, $598,049) so there were high hopes for her career right from the day she was foaled.

She debuted on July 5 at Pocono Downs with a very smart score in a $30,000 PA Allstars contest, then grabbed two more victories in a $51,716 Pennsylvania Sire Stake at The Meadows on July 17 and a track record performance (1:53.3) in the $321,700 Merrie Annabelle on August 3 at The Meadowlands.

Her first defeat was at the hands of Cooler Schooner in a world record mile on August 21 in a Pennsylvania Sire Stake at Pocono Downs. After traveling to Canada she experienced the only off the board finish of her career in her $28,500 Peaceful Way elimination at Mohawk Raceway on September 5. Her next contest was a second place finish in Designed To Be’s world record mile at The Red Mile on September 26, in a $96,200 Bluegrass Stake division.

Returning to Pennsylvania after her Kentucky stint, Shake It Cerry picked up a facile victory in her Breeders Crown elimination on October 11. She has not lost a race since. Her triumphs include the $500,000 Breeders Crown final, her Matron elimination and then the $140,000 final at Dover Downs on November 17 and the $456,150 Goldsmith Maid at the Meadowlands on November 30. Her record now stands at 11-8-2-0 with $827,796 in the bank and her track record in the Merrie Annabelle as her lifetime mark.

“She wasn’t herself that night for the Peaceful Way,” Takter said. “And Ron Pierce said the other times she lost she would have won if he got into her sooner. Ron has always said she is terrific to drive because she is so intelligent. You can do just about anything you want with her and she has always been that way. She won’t run off and you can place her wherever you want. I think she will only improve as she gets older even though she is already so good. Especially for a 2-year-old filly. They can be tough.”

Market Share
Already a Dan Patch winner as last year’s (2012) 3-year-old male trotter, Market Share collected another trophy as 2013’s top older male trotter as a 4-year-old.  Last year’s Hambletonian winner is owned by Richard Gutnick of Blue Bell, Pa, Bill Augustine of Hammonton, NJ, and TLP Stable of Kearny, NJ. The son of Revenue S and Classical Flirt is conditioned by Linda Toscano, who with this horse’s Hambletonian victory became the only female trainer in the history of the sport to win that classic race.

It is well known in this business that the transition from a sophomore to the older ranks can be quite tough on some horses as they are still growing while facing rivals that could be considerably older and already mature, but Market Share didn’t seem to ever read that memo. In 2012, he often was in the shadow of his stablemate, Horse of the Year Chapter Seven, although he is the only 3-year-old colt trotter to ever make more than $2 million in one year, so this year was deservedly his time to shine.

The stallion took a $30,000 leg of the free-for-all trotting series at the Meadowlands on May 31 in his first pari-mutual mile of the year and followed that up with a win in the $526,100 Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Raceway on July 20, before having a mid-season slump of sorts, due to some tough post positions and not enough racing luck.

Market Share was fifth in the $318,350 Cashman Memorial at the Meadowlands on August 3 after leaving from the nine hole, third in a $50,000 Invitational at Pocono Downs on August 17, fourth in the $214,000 Credit Winner at Vernon Downs on September 6, second in the $230,000 Centaur at Hoosier Park on September 21, and third in both the elimination and $172,200 Allerage Trot at The Red Mile on October 6.

The Kentucky bluegrass, however, must have been just what the doctor ordered as the stallion captured the $600,000 Breeders Crown final on October 19, was third in a $50,000 leg of the TVG Free-For-All series at the Meadowlands on November 23 and a winner in the $500,000 series final on November 30.

Reined by Tim Tetrick in all 14 of his seasonal engagements, Market Share added $1.07 million to his bankroll, which now stands at $3.11 million, and produced a 2013 record of 14-6-1-5. His lifetime slate is 39-21-6-8 and there has been no announcement he will be headed off to the second stage of his profession by standing stud. In fact, after a vacation, if all goes well his connections plan on taking him over to Sweden to face the world’s best trotters in the Elitlopp.

“A lot of people say that he’s gotten thicker, but to be honest, I don’t see much change in him,” Toscano said before he won the Maple Leaf Trot. “I think he’s the same type of horse that he was last year. He’s got a great gait and conformation and still covers the ground so easily.”

Foiled Again
The old saying is ‘you save the best for last’ and it applies in this case. On October 19, Foiled Again became the only horse over age 8 to win a Breeders Crown race when he outlasted world record holder Pet Rock by a diminishing nose in the $500,000 contest for older male pacers. The 9-year-old son of Dragon Again and In A Safe Place is owned by Burke Racing Stable of Fredericktown, Pa, Weaver Bruscemi of Canonsburg, Pa and JJK Stables of Fort Lauderdale, Fl. He is also a multiple Dan Patch winner with a Pacer of the Year title in 2011 and top older pacer in 2012.

Purchased by his connections at age 4 after only 27 starts and $60,000 in earnings from his first two years of racing, the gelding is harness racing’s richest ever pacer with more than $6 million in purse money. He is the only horse to ever make a million dollars in one season after turning eight, which he did last year with $1.2 million and this year with $1.4 million.

Trained by co-owner and top North American trainer Ron Burke, when Foiled Again was preparing for his year’s campaign, many media members questioned whether the old guy had lost a step, but Burke was forthright about his stable star.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “My horses usually race better as the year goes on and he is no exception, as you can look at his record, and he seems just as good as he has always been.”

Burke wasn’t kidding around as the gelding showed week in and week out why he remains one of the sport’s most decorated contestants. He was second in the $450,000 Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway on April 27 after winning three of the earlier legs, third in the $145,500 Molson Pace at Western Fair Raceway on May 31, second in the $184,000 Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs on June 9, then won his $50,000 Ben Franklin Pace elimination in a world record 1:48 at Pocono Downs on June 22 before taking the $500,000 final the following week by a nose.

After the Franklin, Foiled Again slipped a bit off form with a sixth in the $471,800 William Haughton Memorial Final at the Meadowlands on July 13, another sixth in the $120,000 Battle of Lake Erie on July 27 at Northfield Park, and a tenth in the $213,650 US Pacing Championship at the Meadowlands on August 3 before he started nabbing more checks.

The gelding was third in the $275,000 Gerrity at Saratoga Raceway on August 17, third in the $618,450 Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Raceway on August 31, and then second in the $223,500 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway on September 16 before hitting his best stride.

The venerable pacer captured the $50,000 Kane Invitational at Batavia Downs on October 5, his elimination and final for the Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs on October 19, then was second by the smallest of noses to rival Pet Rock in the $223,500 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby on November 1 and the $200,000 American National at Balmoral Park on November 9.  He closed out the year with two more victories in a $50,000 TVG Free-For-All Pacing Series leg on November 23 and the $512,000 final on November 30.

The horse’s connections have no intention of sending him off to pasture as long as Foiled Again still retains his form and enjoys his work. He will get a bit of a break this winter before Burke prepares him for his 10-year-old campaign. To date, Foiled Again has faced the starter a staggering 198 times with 76 wins, 49 seconds, 27 thirds, and a record of 1:48 which was accomplished in 2013.

“He’s not the most physically gifted, but he’s got the perfect gait, I think,” said co-owner Kevin Koury told Ken Weingartner of the United States Trotting Association in November. “He’s got a flawless gait and that’s why he’s been able to go for so many years. He takes care of himself, but still gives you maximum effort every time he races. That it is his secret. His best attribute, I think, is that he’s just one very smart animal. He’s done things this year that he’s never done before. He’s facing the best horses in the world, setting world records all the time and it’s like he’s learned to adapt and go with these horses. It’s just been a special ride.”