The Man Wins Second Banjo Picker

-By Keith Jones

The 18th edition of Pennsylvania’s Day at the Races Saturday at Parx featured five $100,000 stakes for state-breds and with six additional races carded it was the first time ever that purses reached in excess of $1 million for a program run strictly for horses bred here in the Commonwealth. The Man proved unbeatable again winning his second consecutive Banjo Picker Sprint while Grasshoppin and She’s Chubs both rallied to upset wins.

Maybe the most anticipated race of the afternoon was the $100,000 Banjo Picker Sprint featuring three terrific state-bred sprinters, the speedy Midtowncharlybrown, late running Pop Keenan and defending champion, The Man. When the dust settled, it would again be The Man getting his picture taken. Never far back, the 6 year-old gelded son of Ecclesiastic broke well and was just a length behind leader Yeah Rocky as they passed the half mile pole. Long shot Late Breaking News was right with the leaders on the far outside while Midtowncharlybrown, after getting outsprinted early, sat behind the top three heading to the far turn. The Man, with regular rider Jorge Vargas, Jr. aboard, advanced between horses to draw even with Yeah Rocky with three furlongs to go while Late Breaking New made it three across the track. Midtowncharlybrown waited for running room while Pop Keenan, who had stayed at the fence the whole way, began to gather momentum for the stretch drive. The Man came off the turn with a short lead, kicked clear by a length and half with a furlong to go, held Midtowncharlybrown safe in the middle of the race track, and then gamely turned away Pop Keenan late on the inside to win by a half-length. For The Man, trained by leading trainer John Servis, it was his 7th win in 8 starts here at Parx. Off as the 6-5 favorite he returned $4.60 to win and ran the six furlongs in 1:09.76.

One of two upsets on the day came in the $100,000 one mile and one-sixteenth Roanoke Stakes. Michael Jester’s Grasshoppin sat a perfect stalking trip under winning jockey Edwin Rivera, took command turning for home and then pulled away to a decisive victory at the square price of 12-1. Breaking from the outside gate in the field of eight, Grasshoppin got away in good order and reached the first turn just off the outside flank of pace making Navy Commander. Sitting a length back for the entire run down the backstretch, Grasshoppin maintained his position after fractions of 23.62 and 47.41. He then came up to the neck of Navy Commander midway around the final turn and broke the race open after straightening in the lane. A strong surge put him three in front with a furlong to run, four in front at the sixteenth pole, the others battling for the balance. Trained by Claudio Gonzalez, he paid a handsome $27.00 and covered the distance in 1:44.42.

The $100,000 Mrs. Penny Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at one mile and one-sixteenth, was switched to the main track after overnight rain. Buttonwood Farm’s Rose Tree made a strong, sustained rally from off the pace and then held off a valiant late charge from Imply to win by a neck. The 4 year-old Harlan’s Holiday filly was unhurried and settled into sixth early on and went to the backstretch about six lengths behind. A steady advance outside moved her to fourth at the half mile pole and now within four lengths of the lead. She never appeared to stop gaining, and reached the quarter pole only a length and a half behind the two leaders. At that point, she eased outside and blew past, taking command with a big move at the top of the turn. She wasn’t quite home free, though. Clear by three with an eighth to go, Imply was making a determined late run on the far outside and was gaining. Under winning jockey Andrew Wolfsont, Rose Tree dug in and held on. Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, she went off as the second choice at 4-1 and paid $10.00 to win. The final time over a track that had dried to fast was 1:46.13.

Mario Mangini’s Zipper’s Hero was a convincing, front running winner of the $100,000 Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares three and up. The 5 year-old daughter of Partner’s Hero broke about a half step slowly but quickly found her best stride and was in front after the first sixteenth of a mile. Moving comfortably up front, she’d opened a clear lead after an opening quarter in 22.43 and never looked back. She led by two entering the far turn, three approaching the top of the stretch and then held rival Risque’s Diamond at bay through the last furlong with winning jockey Johan Rosado guiding her under the wire three lengths in front. Trained by Ed Coletti, Zipper’s Hero went off as an even money favorite and paid $4.00 to win. She covered the six furlongs in on a track labeled good in 1:09.96.

The second upset of the afternoon came in the Power By Far Stakes, moved off the turf and contested at five furlongs on the main track. Aurora Vista’s She’s Chubs (12-1) rallied from just off the pace, getting the lead the lead with an eighth of a mile to go and coming home a length and a quarter in front of late running Charlybrown’s Rose. Jockey Roberto Rosado never had She’s Chubs far back in the short sprint, third, about two and a half lengths behind the very quick leader Captain Sam after the first quarter mile which was clocked in 21.67. She’s Chubs began to close that gap rounding the far turn, drawing within a neck of the leader at the quarter pole and then finally forging past at the eighth pole. It was the first stakes victory for the 5 year-old daughter of Albert the Great. She paid $26.40 to win and finished out in :58.68.

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