by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media
With eight entrants for the Cane Pace heading straight to the $437,325 final on Labor Day (Monday, September 1), a quartet of Kindergarten Classic events headline this Sunday (August 24) afternoon's card at Tioga Downs.
Freshman trotting fillies contest races 8 and 10 on the 13-race card, with the latter division attracting Tompkins winner Allerage Star (post 2) and Merrie Annabelle winner Mission Brief (post 6). Four-time winner Mission Brief has amassed quite a résumé already, taking the New Jersey Sire Stakes and Merrie Annabelle finals both in dominant front-end fashion, taking a mark of 1:52.2 with Yannick Gingras in the bike. Gingras is once again listed to drive the daughter of Muscle Hill for trainer Ron Burke. Allerage Star, the other multiple stakes winner in the field, drew off to a four-length win in her Tompkins division last week, taking a mark of 1:55.4 in rein to Corey Callahan. Her other victory came in a Kindergarten division at the Meadowlands, holding off Dynamite Dame for a 1:57.2 win. Scott Zeron has been nominated to handle the driving duties by trainer Jessica Okusko.
The first division for fillies, carded as race 8, features George Ducharme trainee Bee the Queen (Donato Hanover), who was a chasing fourth in her prior Kindergarten effort at the Meadowlands, turning in a 1:55.4 effort. With two of her seven rivals making their career debuts, she looks to be the filly to beat.
Two-year-old trotting colts and geldings contest races 4 and 6 , with the stakes-placed Wheels Ah Smokin a top contender in the first division. The Chuck Sylvester-trained son of Muscles Yankee most recently finished third in his Tompkins division at Tioga, and was fourth to Habitat in a prior Kindergarten Classic division at the Meadowlands. Ron Pierce has been nominated to drive Wheels Ah Smokin, who starts from post 5. The field also drew Jimmy Takter trainee Falk On Hill S (post 4), who looks to rebound from a break in his Kindergarten split at the Meadowlands earlier in the month.
Takter sends Kindergarten winner French Laundry in the second Kindergarten division, kicking clear to an impressive 1:55.3 Meadowlands win earlier in the month. Usual driver Yannick Gingras is nominated to drive the two-time winner, and they start from post 4. Among French Laundry's six rivals is Party On the River (post 7), a Kadabra colt who took his 1:58.3 mark in an Ontario Sire Stakes event. Mark MacDonald is listed to drive for trainer Patti Harmon.
Due to the Cane Pace drawing only eight entries, they will head directly to the $437,325 final on Labor Day (Monday, September 1). Meadowlands Pace and Empire Breeders Classic winner He's Watching leads the octet, along with North America Cup and Geers winner JK Endofanera. The pair will be joined by Beat The Drum, Bushwacker, Doo Wop Hanover, Luck Be Withyou, Lyonssomewhere and Stevensville.
Sunday afternoon's card at Tioga is slated for a 1:30 p.m. EDT post time.