It’s Academic reaches in Cashman

Saturday, August 5, 2023

It’s Academic passed all eight of his rivals and found the winning post in time to narrowly nab Venerate in 1:51.2 in the $278,000 John Cashman Memorial Trot — his third consecutive Grand Circuit score — on Saturday (Aug. 5) at the Meadowlands.

Being hampered with the outside post in the field of nine, driver David Miller opted to retreat to last with It’s Academic as four horses — Ambassador Hanover, Asteroid, Rattle My Cage and Southwind Tyrion — vied for early contention. Rattle My Cage and driver Tim Tetrick seized control through a :26.4 first quarter before backing the half down to :55 while uncontested up the backstretch. Meanwhile, It’s Academic found himself fourth-over in an outer flow led by Asteroid — who re-emerged from third to engage Rattle My Cage on the far turn — and seven lengths off the lead.

“They were waiting on cover, but they still went a good half,” said Miller. “I was getting a little concerned being last and stacked up, but in the last turn he felt so good.”

Just past the midpoint of the far turn, Asteroid broke stride and the second-over Jujubee stalled once losing cover, forcing Venerate to fan three-wide and carrying It’s Academic widest of all in upper stretch. Rattle My Cage, who maintained control to three-quarters in 1:23.2 and extended his lead to 2-1/2 lengths off the corner for home, was engulfed in deep stretch as 2-1 favorite Southwind Tyrion knifed through traffic up the pegs, only for It’s Academic to cascade down the grandstand side in tandem with runner-up Venerate to win by a nose. Southwind Tyrion was third, beaten only a half length; Rattle My Cage finished fourth, another 2-3/4 lengths in arrears.

“I felt (Venerate) was the horse to beat, and I just wanted to be close to him,” continued Miller of his strategy to ride Venerate’s cover as long as possible. “I stayed with Venerate right to the very end, and he got by him. He’s an incredible horse.”

Ron Burke trains It’s Academic, a 28-time winner with $1,776,096 in career earnings, for owner Brad Grant. As the second choice, the 6-year-old son of Uncle Peter-Annapolis paid $7.60 to win.