CHESTER - Impressive performances by morning-line favorites highlighted the first black-type events of the season at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort on Tuesday. Revelstoke was a 4 -length winner of the 19th running of the Firecracker Stakes for fillies and mares. Strike Impact took the 34th running of the Independence Day Stakes by a neck.
Both races were run at one mile on the grass for $75,000 purses. Revelstoke clocked a final time of 1:36.97 under DeShawn Parker, and returned $5.20, $3, and $2.80 across the board. Strike Impact's final time under John McKee was 1:36.78, and he returned $3.60, $2.20 and $2.20. Course conditions were firm.
While the end results were the same, the manners in which they were accomplished were different. Revelstoke gained her victory by making a wide, sweeping move on the far turn, and drawing well clear in mid-stretch.
Revelstoke, with DeShawn?Parker on board, won the Firecracker Stakes Tuesday at Mountaineer. (Photo submitted)
"She gave me that move last time at Presque Isle, too (in a June 16th win)," said Parker, who perennially leads to Mountaineer jockey standings, and recorded his first Firecracker triumph. "She just explodes every time I ask her."
Strike Impact's victory was more of a grinding effort. He stalked the pacesetters, and took a brief lead on the rail on the far turn. But entering the stretch, Strike Impact dropped back to third.
McKee swung him hard to the outside with a furlong remaining. Strike Impact quickly moved into second position and then out-gamed the 5-2 second choice Sal the Barber to prevail in a photo.
"Down the backside, (Strike Impact) was nice and relaxed," said McKee. "Then horses started coming at us, and he kind of stuck his feet into the ground. But when I got him outside, he gave me the response I needed."
Zaphyra was second in the Firecracker, and returned $8 to place and $6 to show. American Romance and Maid On a Mission dead-heated for third, and returned show prices of $5.40 and $4.20 respectively.
The order of finish was completed by Kellville, Vilao, Aquapazza (who went off as the 6-5 post-time betting choice), Miracle in May and Seawell. Hot Sauce was a late scratch.
In the Independence Day, Sal the Barber returned $3.20 to place and $2.80 to show, and Taino returned a $3.60 show price. Completing the order were Show the Way J, Vanquisher, Cryptolight, Opportunity to Run and General Perfect.
Revelstoke is trained by Irish-born Jimmy Corrigan, who recorded his third career stakes win and second at Mountaineer. Assistant trainer Tammy Johnston handled saddling chores, "In the paddock, I knew Revelstoke was on her toes and ready to run," said Johnston. "She's my girl we're proud of her."
Thomas Campbell, a buyer and seller of industrial parts from Cleveland, Ohio, owns Revelstoke. "She's always strong at the end, and she's getting stronger," Campbell said. "We're thinking about 'upping her' to another level."
Chet Miller is the principal owner of Strike Impact. "I was more nervous than McKee was," said Miller. "Strike Impact has been knocking on the door for a while. Last Sunday, I had a second-time starter who got claimed from me for $40,000. I'd much rather make money with a win than a claim."
Trainer Pat J. Dupuy owns a share of Strike Impact as well. The Firecracker was Dupuy's first career stakes score. And it occurred on what was somewhat of a difficult day.
Miller drove the van that brought Strike Impact to Mountaineer, and the plan was for Dupuy and his wife Jennie Rees (a three-time Eclipse Award-winning turf writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal) to follow him.
"But we got a blow-out just south of Grove City, Ohio, and had to stop and get four new tires," said Rees. Strike Impact earned $45,675 for his victory, with part-owner and full-trainer shares going to Dupuy. Payment for the tires has been covered.
In 2011, Strike Impact finished a close second in Mountaineer's West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup on the West Virginia Derby card. "You can make a hotel reservation at Mountaineer for us right now," Rees said. "We're going to get that Speaker's Cup win this year."
Mountaineer Notes: Sharp Sarita, in her career debut, blazed to an 11 -length score in Tuesday's first race, a maiden event for two-year-old fillies. Jockey Victor Urieta-Moran was aboard. Sharp Sarita's time for 4 -furlongs was :52.95. "We wanted to see if she's as impressive in the evening as she is in the morning," said Sandra Marie Adkins, who trains Sharp Sarita for Charlie J. Williams. Adkins said she and Williams would point Sharp Sarita toward Mountaineer's $100,000 Juvenile Fillies Stakes on the Aug. 4 West Virginia Derby card.