Robert LaPenta's Easter Gift took the $230,000 Mountainview Handicap on dirt while Mr. Amore Stable's Tightend Touchdown scorched the grass in his victory in the $135,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap June 1 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
The two stakes supported a top program headed by the $500,000 Penn Mile for 3-year-olds on the grass.
In the Mountainview, at 1 1/8 miles, Easter Gift raced in mid-pack behind a dawdling pace before jockey Kendrick Carmouche asked him for run on the far turn. The 4-year-old Hard Spun colt went three-wide entering the stretch, reeled in 13-1 Norman Asbjornson , and drew away to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:49.96 on a fast track (VIDEO).
Fractions for the Mountainview were set by Rattlesnake Bridge and Pants On Fire, who dueled on and off through an opening quarter-mile in :24.82, a half-mile in :49.14, and six furlongs in 1:13.03. Carmouche said he had a great trip because the top pair appeared to be under rides entering the far turn.
"Jeremy Rose (on Norman Asbjornson) was getting a perfect trip with two dead horses in front of him, so I followed him and got a perfect trip," Carmouche said.
John Panagot, racing manager for LaPenta, said Easter Gift, trained by Chad Brown, has shown a preference for racing outside of horses so the plan was to keep him in the clear.
"Chad said to Kendrick, 'Give him a target and give him a run.' He relaxed perfectly and it worked out well," Panagot said. "It was nice to see him win at a mile and an eighth even though we didn't think the distance would be a problem."
Easter Gift, out of the Allen's Prospect mare Angel Gift, was bred in Kentucky by Ward Williford.
The winner paid $9.40, $5.20, and $3.40 as the third choice. Norman Asbjornson returned $10 and $5.40, while Pants On Fire paid $3.80. The exacta paid $100.60 and the trifecta $561.20.
In the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup, Tightend Touchdown and jockey Javier Castellano took the early lead from the rail and never looked back en route to a 5 1/2-length win over Bridgetown (VIDEO). Ben's Cat was another 1 13/4 lengths back in third after a troubled trip, while Catalactic was placed fourth after the disqualification of Kyma for interference.
Tightend Touchdown, trained by Jason Servis, rolled through fractions of :21.54 for the opening quarter mile and :43.15 for a half-mile on a firm course. He completed the five furlongs in :54.62, just one-hundredth of a second off the record set by Bop in 2002.
"He's a fast horse," Castellano said. "It worked out great. It was a big field and he had the inside post. I saw his last race at Belmont Park, and the owners were planning to run him here before that race. I knew the pace was really fast, but he was very comfortable."
In his previous start Tightend Touchdown, a 4-year-old Pure Precision gelding out of the Marquetry mare Starry Mark, won a six-furlong allowance event at Belmont wire-to-wire in 1:07.57.
The winner, bred in Florida by Chad Stewart and Laurie Stewart, paid $8.80, $5.00, and $3.40. Bridgetown returned $4.60 and $3.40, while Ben's Cat paid $2.40. The exacta paid $51.60 and the trifecta $112.20.