Saturday, July 15, 2023

George Brennan returned to The Meadowlands on Saturday (July 15) for just a single drive, but the veteran teamster knew what he was doing guiding Mikala to a 41-1 upset in the $159,000 Dorothy Haughton Memorial, outkicking Grace Hill in the final strides.

The race began with a wild sprint in the early stages as Silver Label and Scott Zeron left with extreme energy from the pole position and were determined to have the front. Racine Bell and Jason Bartlett accepted her fate and tucked in second with Todd McCarthy also settling into third after leaving boldly from post 6 with Boudoir Hanover. Max Contract took a spot on the pylons as well for Andy Miller with favored Grace Hill settling behind her.

A :26 opening quarter had the field lined up to the inside, but Brennan and Mikala had already plotted their course and remained parked from the outset and positioned perfectly at the flank of Doug McNair and Grace Hill. Brennan waited for that cover to develop, and it did shortly before the half as Grace Hill came to the outside and flushed Andy Miller behind Max Contract.

Silver Label cut the half in :53.4 and then was hit by a full-scale offensive as Max Contract came to even terms with her towing in Grace Hill and setting Mikala up third over in the flow quite nicely.

With three-quarters clocked in 1:21, Grace Hill appeared to have the edge when she rallied off cover and quickly polished off the two mares she was chasing. In midstretch, Brennan asked Mikala, a 5-year-old daughter of Always B Miki to go and the mare sprinted powerfully to draw off at the finish in a career-best 1:47.4 clocking and win by 1-1/4 lengths. Grace Hill held on to the place spot with Silver Label third. Boudoir Hanover rallied late for fourth ahead of Kobe’s Gigi in fifth.

“I wanted to follow Grace Hill and I didn’t want to get involved in the early pace,” said Brennan. “It worked out perfectly.”

Mikala is trained and co-owned by Nik Drennan along with Joe Davino, Brad Shackman, Anthony Perretti Farms. It was just the first win in five starts this year for Mikala, who returned $84.80 to win. She now has $391,128 earned from 35 starts, with 11 wins total in her career.