WASHINGTON, PA, June 27, 2020 — Facing an overmatched field, a stinging rain and a sloppy surface, freshman sensation Sister Sledge kept her "A" game under wraps and fashioned a workmanlike win in her harness racing 3-year-old debut in Saturday's $53,528 Arden Downs at.
The stake for 3-year-old filly trotters, known as the Ned McCarr, was contested over two divisions, with 49-1 bomb Dazzling Diva pulling off the shocker in the other split.
Sister Sledge won her first seven races at 2, banked more than $500,000, swept the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes and finished second to Ramona Hill in Dan Patch Award voting. Under ordinary circumstances, the daughter of Father Patrick-Behindclosedoors would have had several starts by this time. But with so many stakes canceled or rescheduled due to COVID-19, trainer Ron Burke found that he needed a race for his budding superstar. The Ned McCarr, usually offered as part of Adios Week, fit the bill.
Dave Palone idled with Sister Sledge before the pair seized the lead past the quarter. Sister Sledge drew off as she pleased and scored in 1:55.3 under a Palone stranglehold. Cocktails N Dreams was 4-1/2 lengths back in second, with Perth Angel De Vie third.
"She's like all the great ones," Palone said. "Not only is she blessed with ridiculous speed, but her manners and her intelligence are what make her a great horse. They'll put her in the right spot every week. She's one you remember for sure."
Burke Racing Stable, Jason Melillo, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby and Weaver Bruscemi LLC own Sister Sledge, whose career bankroll now stands at $569,195. Her next start is tentatively set for the July 4 Currier & Ives at The Meadows.
The other McCarr split was hardly as formful, as 1-2 favorite Dune Hill jumped it off while on a clear lead down the backside. Dazzling Diva, an eight-race maiden entering the stake, already was out and moving and was able to reach the point and open daylight on the field. Yet it wasn't a spot that winning driver Dan Rawlings coveted.
"She dehydrated really badly last year," Rawlings said. "She followed the best fillies in the state, and she was wrapped up doing it. But in both qualifiers this year, when she cleared, she pulled up. I was trying to race hard and drop to the two hole, to be honest. When I cleared, I thought, it's all or nothing now. I kept screaming at her, and she kept going."
The daughter of Cantab Hall-Hustle Heart persevered and downed Sentebale by 3/4 lengths in 1:56. Ginger Tree Bren earned show. Norm Parker trains the winner for Jacobs Creek Racing, George Romanoff, Martin Garey and Jon Erdner.
Mike Wilder and Palone each collected three wins on the 14-race card.
Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the program features a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Early Pick 4 (race 3) and a $3,295.59 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 PM.
By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association