Saturday, July 23, 2022

The Linda Toscano-trained Ucandoit Blue Chip completed a three-race sweep of the filly pacing division after taking one of four $240,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes finals for 2-year-olds at The Meadowlands Friday night.

Since missing a neck in her career debut in a mile that went in 1:52.2 on June 17, Ucandoit Blue Chip has been the Queen of her Class, winning both preliminary NJSS legs before Friday’s easy 3½-length score in 1:52 with driver Scott Zeron calling the shots.

“What a good girl she is,” said Toscano. “This was a new game for her, going to the lead. Scott told me he never popped the plugs. I’m pretty happy with her.”

The daughter of Keystone Velocity-Molly Can Do It made the top while parked at the half, which was timed in :55.3, and sailed home from there as much the best. Lisa Lane finished second with Get Answers third.

Ucandoit Blue Chip returned $2.60 to win as the 1-5 public choice.

Oh Well got the evening started by displaying a big move on the far turn to collar leader Celebrity Bambino with a quarter-mile to go on the way to a safe three-quarter-length win over a fast-closing Up Your Deo in the colts and geldings trot. The Marcus Melander trainee missed a nose in his initial NJSS preliminary before taking the final leg two weeks ago.

“He’s doing everything right so far, but you have to stay after him,” said winning driver Tim Tetrick, referring to his colt’s inexperience. “He’s only going to get better. I knew from his earlier starts that he had a big motor. He covers too much ground to not be a nice horse. Last week, he earned that win, and he impressed me a lot. He keeps putting his nose out front.”

A son of Muscle Hill-Fine Tuned Lady, Oh Well returned $5.40 as the 8-5 favorite after completing the mile in a lifetime-best 1:53.1. Up Your Deo was disqualified for causing interference around the first turn and was placed ninth. Finishing second and third in the official order of finish were Point Of Perfect and Celebrity Bambino, respectively.

Walner Payton used the rail to her advantage in taking the event for trotting fillies in a lifetime-best-equaling 1:54.1 for trainer Chris Ryder and driver Dexter Dunn.

Dunn moved the daughter of Walner-Lonely Lady to the top while parked at the quarter, and with 1-2 favorite Mambacita going a three-hole trip, had enough to hold that late-rallying foe off by a safe 1¼ lengths at the finish. Bubzarellie was third.

“She was the one filly I was going to buy,” said owner Ken Jacobs of the $510,000 Lexington Select Sale purchase. “It proved to be a good choice.”

“She’s been very good,” said Ryder. “A little tough to break, but she always trains well. She’s been pretty straight forward. We’re very happy with her.”

As the 5-2 second choice, Walner Payton returned $7.80 to win.

In the most exciting race of the NJSS quartet, Voukefalas (Jordan Stratton driving) was nothing short of sensational in following up a pair of third-place finishes in the preliminaries with a sparkling 2¾-length win in the big-money final for pacing colts and geldings. The time for the mile was an impressive lifetime-best 1:50.

“We were not disappointed in how he did [in his prior two starts],” said winning trainer Mike Russo. “We got the worst trip both times. Jordan was right not to abuse him.”

Voukefalas sat in the three-hole early on as 4-5 favorite Lifes A Puzzle hit the quarter in :26.4. Stratton then moved the son of Lazarus N-Inittowinafortune to the lead with a quick burst to the three-eighths.

The top two stayed that way to the far turn, when Lifes A Puzzle popped the pocket to come after the leader, but Voukefalas had no interest in letting the public choice go by, rebuffing that challenge without issue before going on to an easy score. Handlelikeaporsche outkicked Lifes A Puzzle for second.

Voukefalas, who paid $6.20 as the co-second 2-1 choice in the wagering, has had a lot to live up to since birth. “The name comes from Alexander the Great [the ancient Greek king],” said owner Michael Pagonas. “He had a horse named Voukefalas.”

A LITTLE MORE: Tetrick, Dunn, Dave Miller and Yannick Gingras all recorded driving doubles. … Gingras has 97 wins for the season, far in front of Dunn, who is second with 68. … Ron Burke trained a pair to the winner’s circle, upping his lead in the conditioner standings to 21 over Jeff Cullipher, who is second. Burke has 60 winners thus far this year. … All-source handle totaled $2,406,644. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO1: Ucandoit Blue Chip and driver Scott Zeron are victorious in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old pacing fillies at The Meadowlands Friday night. (Credit: Lisa Photo)