By Evan Pattak For The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association “Horsemen Helping Horsemen” photo by Chris Gooden

First-timer Papi Grad ignited the fireworks on the Independence Day program at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, crushing her Pennsylvania Sires Stake field of freshman filly pacers by 10-1/4 lengths in a sparkling 1:51.1. Also scoring in the $180,221 stake known as the Sand Tart were Sweet Ballad and Rose, both driven by Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. and trained by Ron Burke.

The card also featured a $100,000 PA Stallion Series event for freshman filly pacers. A total of 50 youngsters tested the stakes waters for the first time, and they showed precocious professionalism.

Such was the case with Papi Grad — who had only two qualifiers on her resume — when Brett Miller asked her to go first up from fourth.

“When I qualified her last week in 1:55.3, I couldn’t get her pulled up after the mile. Same thing today,” Miller said. “She has a big set of lungs, and she is fast. She feels like a 3-year-old. The way she felt in the qualifier, I was ultra-confident.”

The daughter of Papi Rob Hanover-Betterthangraduate kept right on rolling to complete her spectacular debut, missing the stake record by a tick. Steve Carter trains Papi Grad for Brent Hopper, Jay Mossbarger, TKO Racing Stable LLC and SCP Stable Inc.

Also making her career bow after a pair of qualifiers, Sweet Ballad quarter-poled to the top for Wrenn and had little trouble from there, prevailing in 1:53.1. Gingertree Brenasu was 2-3/4 lengths back in second while early leader Ballast completed the ticket.

“She was really good, well within herself. She did everything professionally,” Wrenn said. “I don’t think she had to be on the front, but I wanted to move back to the lead. I thought I had the best horse.”

Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Phillip Collura campaign the daughter of Sweet Lou-Write Me A Song.

$100,000 PA Stallion Series — 2-Year-Old Filly Pace

In Thursday’s sub-feature, Wrenn and Burke fashioned another stake double (Always Ana Hanover, Blessed Hanover), and they were joined by Tim Tetrick, who scored with Pilar Hanover and Westwinds.

Angel Heart captured the other division and, much as Papi Grad, she found herself dealing with a first-over dilemma.

“I was hoping to pick up cover.” said winning driver Andrew McCarthy, “but you can kind of tell by a horse’s attitude if she doesn’t mind being first over. She felt terrific, and I was happy enough to keep marching by myself. It seems like she has a lot of talent.”

Angel Heart had enough heart to down early leader Country Dancing by a length in 1:54.3, with Sunburst third.

Dan Murray owns and trains the daughter of Sweet Lou-All Heart Gal.

Overall, Wrenn and Burke teamed for five wins on the 13-race card.

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of approximately 700 Standardbred trainers, drivers, caretakers and owners at The Meadows. In addition to providing horses to race at The Meadows, MSOA administers such member-centric services as health insurance and retirement programs for horsemen and horsewomen.

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