Just a few days before last year’s freshman trotting sensation Swandre the Giant prepares to take on the nation’s best trotters in the $1 million Hambletonian, Brandon Bates may be sitting behind another superstar. Bates developed Swandre the Giant into an undefeated colt last summer that was later sold for a reported seven figures. Wednesday, July 31, Bates sat behind another freshman that could be headed to greatness as Priceless remained undefeated in two starts in Indiana Sires Stakes action at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.
Bates, who trains and drives Priceless, placed the daughter of Rockin Image right on the engine and never looked back in both of her starts this year, winning her first Indiana Sires Stakes in 1:53.1. She followed up that performance with a gate to wire win in the second round of ISS action in 1:52.1. The freshman standout won by six lengths and was all alone on the front end as she paced the final panel in :26.2.
Bates, who is very informative about his horses on Twitter before each race, noted before her most recent start that Priceless, “was sharp at first asking, has trained back excellent and is ready to go.”
Priceless had one qualifier to prep her for her start to racing, also winning that effort. She is now two for two with $36,000 in career earnings for owners Kevin Miller and Bert Hochsprung. The filly was purchased out of the Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale last fall for $31,000 under the name Rockin Diva.
Also on the Wednesday card, Foxy Rigger from the Brian Brown Stable was a winner for Trace Tetrick in a time of 1:52.0, pacing her final quarter in :26.2. The Riggins filly is also undefeated in three starts for owners Country Club Acres, L & H Management, Lombardo/Green Racing, and Timothy Lane, all of Ohio.
Only 24 yearlings were offered by sire Riggins, who has turned out to be the sleeper “first crop sire” in Indiana this season. Foxy Rigger was purchased for $5,000 out of the Buckeye Classic Yearling Sale last fall.
A third division of Indiana Sires Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies was held, going to Western Sierra and Bates. Bill Crone trains the Straight Shooting filly owned by John Barnard, who now has a record of 1:53.2. The final division of Indiana Sires Stakes was won by heavily favored Grace Rocks, driven by Sam Widger and trained by Ronnie Roberts. Grace Rocks, a daughter of Rockin Image, won in 1:52.1 with a final panel in :26.4 for owner Howard Taylor, who is part of the ownership group that purchased Swandre the Giant last year.