A pair of American National Stakes for sophomore trotters of both genders were contested on August 27 at Balmoral Park.
Iron Lady and driver Dave Magee captured the $121,500 American National Stake for 3-year-old fillies in 1:54.1. Owned by Jerry and Theresa Silva, the daughter of Taurus Dream-Ita Di Jesolo got a perfect steer by the Hall of Fame reinsman to notch a one and 1/2 length triumph.
Iron Lady had previously finished fifth in the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks on August 6 at The Meadowlands.
“I don’t know what happened to her in the Oaks,” Magee offered. “Tonight she was completely focused and she really wanted to race so I just let her do what she wanted, which was to roll right on out of there.”
Magee patiently sat along the rail and waited for room as favored Crys Dream led the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.1.
“Even though she was ready to roll right from the start I also had no problem getting her to relax once we wound up in the pocket,” Magee noted. “She was so good out there tonight I could have driven her with two fingers.”
Moving into the passing lane Magee had Iron Lady in high gear as the Jean Dubois trainee uncorked a big 27.4 final quarter to hold off a late bid from Lady Rainbow (Rick Zeron). Crys Dream held on to finish third.
Iron Lady now boasts five victories and one third in 12 starts this season and earnings of $133,563.
GJ Photo Victory captured the $113,000 American National for 3-year-old colts for driver Marcus Miller in 1:56.1. Owned by Kay Willis, the Brandy Pinske Stable and John Esposito, GJ Photo Victory survived a long stewards inquiry to post the one and ¼ length victory.
Miller steered his charge to a first-over journey but it wasn’t until the :57.3 half mile marker that the colt finally was able to grab the lead.
“Things were starting to slow down up front as we moved down the backside so I figured I better get my horse out rolling so we didn’t get all jammed up in there,” Miller explained. “We had a pretty stiff wind in our face which made getting to the lead a little tougher than I thought it would be. This horse is very tough though and just continued to dig away and it wound up working out perfectly that we cleared when we did because it left that other horse (Swan In A Million) out there without cover going into the turn.”
Trained by Nelson Willis, the son of Photo Color-Victoria Coe opened up a 3 ½ length lead in the mid-stretch to garner his third straight triumph. Whit (Jimmy Whitemore) finished second while Valiant Warrior (Brian Carpenter) was third.
The win was the fifth in 12 starts this year for GJ Photo Victory who also sports four second place finishes and one third place finish with earnings of $119,799.
“He was a nice trotter last year but we’ve been patient with him and have tried some things with him and he’s really turned into a very nice trotter for us,” trainer Willis said later.