“It was a very good day,” Engblom said. “I thought we had prepared them good enough, especially my trotting fillies. They’ve been training great all winter. I had high hopes for them. The colts also came out nice.
“We’ve got good horses, so they’re supposed to look good when they come out. I was happy with pretty much everything.”
There was a total of 13 qualifiers for two-year-olds Saturday, with all but five horses in those races making their debuts. In addition to Engblom, trainers Tony Alagna and Ray Schnittker were multiple winners, with two victories each.
Schnittker picked up a win with filly pacer Rodeo Beach, a full sister to Dan Patch Award-winner Huntsville, who was the best in a contentious stretch drive for driver Mark MacDonald in 1:57.1, final quarter :27.1.
“I thought she went very well,” Schnittker said. “She was a little green, running out in the stretch. But she’s a nice filly. She’s got a lot of speed. I think she’ll be a good one. All of them (from her family) have got speed. She’s probably a little better gaited than some of them. She’s nice. It was a good day.”
One of Alagna’s wins came with colt pacer Its Showtime, a son of Captaintreacherous out of Breeders Crown champion Uffizi Hanover who won by four lengths in 1:54.3 in his first trip to a qualifier. He came home with a :26.4 final quarter with Andy McCarthy in the sulky.
“It was very nice,” Alagna said. “The colt trained down well all winter. He (qualified) well in hand. He gets a little lazy on the front, he’s actually a much better horse from off the pace, so (McCarthy) was just keeping his attention. He had plenty left in the tank. It was a really nice mile for him.”
Following is a race-by-race recap of the two-year-old qualifiers. Temperatures were in the mid-70s with a gusty, swirling wind.
Ms Savannah Belle, a trotting filly bred and owned by Al Libfeld, got the day started with a 1:58.1 win. The daughter of Muscle Hill out of O’Brien Award-winner Stubborn Belle was third during the first half but moved to the lead at three-quarters and marched to victory with a :27 final panel for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Engblom.
Engblom-trained filly Munster won the second qualifier in 2:01 with a final quarter of :28. Driven by Tim Tetrick, Munster was second through the opening quarter and inherited the lead when Mission Us went off stride just prior to the half. Munster is a daughter of Chapter Seven out of Richesse Oblige S bred by Blue Chip Bloodstock, Herbert Burns III, and Jacob Kiefer. She was purchased for $175,000 under the name Robin Blue Chip at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Black Horse Racing and Wiesman Farms.
Engblom’s stable made it a sweep of the filly trots when Hello Tomorrow won the third qualifier in 1:58.3 with a :28 final quarter. Hello Tomorrow, driven by Gingras, is a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Armbro Deja Vu and half-sister to millionaire Dejarmbro. She was purchased for $380,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Brixton Medical Inc., Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz, and Lynn Katz. She was bred by Fair Winds Farm.
When two-year-old male trotters took center stage in the fourth qualifier, Engblom showed no signs of slowing down. King Slayer, driven by Gingras, won with a stretch move to pass Sheena Soldier in 1:59.4, final quarter in :28.4. King Slayer is a son of Father Patrick out of Forever Graceful from the family of 2010 Hambletonian winner Muscle Massive. He was purchased for $135,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. He was bred by Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz and is owned by John Fielding, Herb Liverman, Renato Bruni, and Alfonso Cesarano.
Engblom was without a starter in the fifth qualifier, which went to Andrew Harris-trained colt trotter Sixteen and driver Scott Zeron in 2:02.2 with a final quarter :28. Sixteen is a son of Donato Hanover out of Mets Inn and a half-brother to millionaire Mets Hall. He was purchased for $160,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Howard Taylor, James Walker, and Hutt Racing Stable. He was bred by Winbak Farm.
Engblom picked up his fifth winner in the sixth, when colt trotter Synergy and driver Gingras led at every call and held off Take The Credit in the stretch for a 2:00.3 score with :28.1 final quarter. Synergy is a son of Father Patrick out of Southwind Sauna from the family of O’Brien Award-winner Federal Flex. He was purchased for $275,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Brittany Farms, John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and David Anderson. He was bred by Southwind Farms.
Win No. 6 for Engblom followed with colt trotter Staro Onthe Rocks S in the seventh qualifier. Staro Onthe Rocks and Gingras won in 2:03.1, final quarter :28.2. The colt is a son of Conway Hall out of Stunning Lindsey and a half-brother to millionaire Sevruga. He was bred by Staffan Nilsson and is owned by Crawford Farms Racing and James Crawford.
Qualifier eight was won by Staffan Lind-trained and Christian Lind-driven colt trotter Hennessy Am S in 2:01 with a :28.1 final quarter. Hennessy is a son of Muscle Hill out of Crysti Dream. The $100,000 Lexington Selected Sale buy is owned by Lind Racing Stable, Acadia Farms, Jonathan Klee Racing, and Pegasis Investment Group. He was bred by AM Bloodstock.
Two-year-old filly pacers hit the track for the day’s next two qualifiers. Caviart Jane stormed home with a :26.3 final quarter to win the ninth in 1:58.1. The filly was driven by Zeron for trainer Nancy Johansson and owners Caviart Farms and Christina Takter. The White Birch Farm-bred daughter of Captaintreacherous out of Act Now was purchased under the name Treacherous Act for $100,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale.
Rodeo Beach, a full sister to Dan Patch Award-winner Huntsville, was the best in a contentious stretch drive and captured the 10th for driver Mark MacDonald and trainer Ray Schnittker in 1:57.1, final quarter :27.1. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of Wild West Show was bred by Schnittker and Charlie Iannazzo. She is owned by Schnittker, Mary Kinsey Arnold, and Paul Bordogna.
Male pacers closed out the two-year-old portion of the card, with Tony Alagna-trained Its Showtime living up to his name with a 1:54.3 romp, final quarter in :26.4. Andy McCarthy drove Its Showtime, a son of Captaintreacherous out of Uffizi Hanover. Bred by Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz, and Sam Goldband, the colt is owned by Alagnafrankinthegym Stable, Joe Sbrocco, Katz, and LeBlanc and Head Partners. He was purchased for $150,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale.
Alagna-trained Chief Mate, also driven by McCarthy, won the 12th, leading from gate to wire in 1:55.1, final quarter :26.3. Chief Mate is a son of Captaintreacherous out of Heaven Forbid. He was purchased for $150,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by breeder Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Brad Grant, and Captain Kirk Racing.
Splash Brother, who was a 1:54.3 winner in last week’s qualifiers, returned Saturday for a 1:54.2 triumph, final quarter in :26.3. The Schnittker-trained colt was driven by MacDonald for owners Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing, Steven Arnold, and Tammy Ann Flannery. The son of So Surreal out of Sugarcoated was bred by Steve Jones and sold for $30,000 at the Goshen Yearling Sale.
Following the two-year-olds, there were four additional qualifiers for horses ages three and older. Past Hambletonian winner Marion Marauder, the 2016 Trotter of the Year, and driver Zeron defeated one of this year’s Hambletonian hopefuls, Green Manalishi S, in 1:53.1 with a :26.3 final quarter. The six-year-old Marion Marauder, trained by Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling, is preparing for his 2019 debut.
Other winners were three-year-old trotting filly American Kronos for trainer Julie Miller in 1:54.2, four-year-old pacing stallion Nutcracker Sweet for trainer Tom Cancelliere in 1:50.4, and five-year-old gelding pacer Alluneedisfaith N for trainer Ross Croghan in 1:53.