WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 22, 2018 — Pocketed by Winston early, Wheels On Fire got his revenge late when he blew by Winston to score in L51, fastest division in Saturday's $75,000 Keystone Classic at The Meadows.
The stake for harness racing 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers was contested over three splits, with No Easy Day and Shadow Cat taking the other divisions. Trainer Ron Burke enjoyed a Keystone Classic double with Wheels On Fire and No Easy Day.
Wheels On Fire dueled with Winston from the gate but retreated to the two hole for Mike Wilder.
"He's a big horse, and he's pretty aggressive," Wilder said. "But once I got him settled down in the hole, he was great. In the last turn, I thought he couldn't lose. When I pulled him, he just exploded. He's very athletic for the size of him."
In the lane, the Somebeachsomewhere-Ab Fab gelding roared by outside to down Winston by a length, with another Burke trainee, Aleppo Hanover, third. Bill Donovan campaigns Wheels On Fire, who won for the eighth time in 18 career starts.
No Easy Day worked out a similar pocket trip before out-kicking his stablemate, Go West Go Fast. In the stretch and defeating him by 2 lengths in 1:51.2. Yupper completed the ticket. Before getting his picture taken, No Easy Day had to survive an inquiry for a possible pylon violation.
"He won from last on Adios Day in 1:50, so the option to take back was there if it looked a little crazy getting away," said winning driver Tony Hall. "But there was kind of an even flow, so it looked like I could get away quickly. He had a lot of go."
Thomas Dillon owns No Easy Day, a Somebeachsomewhere-Wish All You Want gelding.
Shadow Cat was unhurried early, but when he tipped off the live cover of Kwik Talkin for Aaron Merriman, he was much the best, prevailing by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52.1. Daddyofemall rallied for second while Kwik Talkin was third.
"He's big and gangly and doesn't steer the best," Merriman said. "He got a little bit green when he got by his cover. He doesn't have that knockout punch yet, but he has a lot of ability."
John Butenschoen conditions the Somebeachsomewhere-Shady Past gelding, who completed the Keystone Classic sweep for his daddy and extended his career bankroll to $123,574 for William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen and Eugene Schick.
In the $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace, Windsong Leo notched a facile 1:50.4 victory — his 15th this year — for Dave Palone, Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Phil Collura. The 6-year-old Jereme's Jet-Windsong Goldie gelding now boasts career earnings of $350,350.
Stake racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, when the card features a $78,698 Keystone Classic for sophomore colt and gelding trotters. First post is 1:05 PM.
by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows