NJSS finals for 3YO trotters won by Karl, French Champagne (2024)

NJSS finals for 3YO trotters won by Karl, French Champagne (1)

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Karl drew off powerfully in the stretch to win the NJ Sire Stakes final

Karl and French Champagne emerged victorious in their respective $240,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes finals for 3-year-olds on the trot Friday night at the Meadowlands.

Karl was his usual dominant self, crushing his foes by seven widening lengths in a 1:51 lifetime-best clocking in the split for colts and geldings to complete a three-race sweep of the NJSS. He took the lead from Tony Adams S, who trotted the opening panel in 28 1/5, in methodical fashion just after the three-eighths.

Karl sailed past the half in 56 1/5, but as he neared the three-quarter-mile marker, Pantoran was using a big move to go after the leader, and was right at Karl's throat as they hit the beam in 1:24.

The eventual winner – as well as his driver, Yannick Gingras – were unfazed by the challenger, shrugging off Pantoran at the top of the stretch on the way to the easy score. Benny J was second with Tony Adams S holding third.

"He's been super so far," said winning trainer Nancy Takter. "I'm really happy with him. He's been well within himself every time he's raced. So, so far, so good.

"[When Pantoran challenged] It was the first time this year that somebody was really that close to him, but I was pretty confident and it looked like Yannick had him well in hand and I knew that he was going to finish well. I knew there was plenty left in the tank and I wasn't really that worried about it."

Karl is now going to take a few weeks to rest up for what lies ahead. The Hambletonian is on Saturday, Aug. 3.

"I think that a little break is going to be good for him," said Takter. "You know, he's got a tough summer coming up and a tough schedule ahead of him. So, just a couple of weeks kind of to recoup and he's had a couple of tough races. He's gone fast times, and it's important that you give the horses a little time to recover so they can race the entire season. I mean, he's going to race all the way into November, probably, so hopefully, knock on wood."

Karl, a son of Tactical Landing-Avalicious, returned $2.10 for third time in as many starts this season while upping his lifetime numbers to 12 wins from 13 starts, good for earnings of $1,191,977 for owners Christina and Nancy Takter, Black Horse Racing, Crawford Farms Racing and Bender Sweden Inc.

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Unlike the short price in the event for males, French Champagne used a patient drive from Tim Tetrick to pull off a mild 6-1 surprise in the division for fillies.

The trip was anything but ideal for the winner as 2-5 favorite Spy Coast led the field past the half in 55 2/5 and three-quarters in 1:24 2/5. Miss I La, a 40-1 outsider who had sprinted to the quarter on the point in 26 3/5, roared out of the pocket off the far turn and moved to the lead at the head of the stretch as Tetrick and French Champagne waited for an opportunity after sitting a four-hole trip from the start.

"It opened up there late and my mare felt really good," said Tetrick. "I'd driven her one time last year and I was too wide in the last turn; I just didn't think she could respond to that, so I stayed left and, luckily, it worked out."

In deep stretch, from what looked like an impossible spot, Tetrick and French Champagne found a small seam along the inside and with a burst of speed, was able to pop a cork and record a 2 1/2 length score. Miss I La was second with Tove Palema third. The mile time of 1:52 1/5 was a lifetime-best for the daughter of Muscle Hill-French Café.

Trained by Ake Svanstedt and owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, French Champagne, who returned $14.20 as the second choice in the betting, raised her lifetime stats to seven wins from just 13 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $317,608.

"She's bigger and stronger [than she was a year ago]," said Tetrick. "The first turn tonight, she was kind of running in on me. So, I was like, I better save as much ground as I could and it just worked out. She responded like all Ake's horses do."

A LITTLE MORE: Gingras finished the night with five wins on the card to become the first driver at The Big M this year to do that twice. Jason Bartlett (on Jan. 19) and Andy McCarthy (Feb. 24) are the only others to record five-baggers during 2024. Gingras did it for the first time on May 3. All-source handle totaled $3,178,707 on the 14-race program. Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

--press release (Meadowlands)--

NJSS finals for 3YO trotters won by Karl, French Champagne (2024)

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