CAMPBELLVILLE, September 16 – Blue Moon Stride converted off a perfect second-over trip to win Saturday’s $256,000 Milton Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack in a stakes record 1:48.4.
The Mark Harder trained four-year-old pacing mare and driver David Miller followed up their 7-1 upset victory in last week’s elimination with a mild 6-1 upset in Saturday’s final.
Post-ten starter Witch Dali blasted out from the outside to grab the early lead and post a :26.1 opening-quarter. Wrangler Magic and Pure Country, the 6/5 favourite, were both seeking the lead early and parked around the first turn. Pure Country cleared to the lead nearing the half, but paid a big price by pacing a :53.3 opening-half.
Lady Shadow came out from fourth and committed first up at the half, providing cover for Blue Moon Stride, who was pacing sixth. Pure Country and Lady Shadow dueled by three-quarters in 1:21.1, while Miller was just waiting for the stretch in a perfect second-over spot.
Blue Moon Stride rocketed off cover in the lane and surged to the lead. The Harder trainee stormed home in :27.2 to win by three-quarters of a length over a charging L A Delight. Frost Damage Blues finished third, while Darlinonthebeach was fourth.
A daughter of Rocknroll Hanover, Blue Moon Stride appears to have found her best stride with Miller in the sulky. The duo have now won three races in a row when working together and the four-year-old is arguably at her best right now.
“She’s very sharp right now,” said Miller. “I talked to Mark (Harder) last night and he assured me that she was coming into the race in great shape and he was absolutely right.
“She’s beaten the best ones the last three weeks pretty handily, so yes I’m pretty high on her.”
Owned by Emilio & Maria Rosati, Blue Moon Stride is now four for 13 this season with $243,119 earned. The Harder trainee earned her 14th victory Saturday and pushes her career earnings over $950,000.
The clocking of 1:48.4 lowered the Milton Stakes record by a full-second. The previous mark of 1:49.4 was set twice by Rocklamation in 2012 and 2013.
A $2 win ticket on Blue Moon Stride returned $14.30. The $2 exacta with runner up L A Delight ($8.50, $4.60) paid $100.50, while the $1 Trifecta including Frost Damage Blues ($3.80) paid $323.20.