Rip Wheeler was able to fend off a slew of challengers in a rare high end claiming event Friday, Nov. 24 at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The field of eight, racing for a claiming tag of $100,000, was led to the wire by Rip Wheeler and Michael Oosting. No horses were claimed from the event.
Starting from post one, Rip Wheeler shot out of the gate for the lead but could not get the top spot and was relegated to third. Western Era and Andy Miller moved the quickest from the outside with Seaside Hanover slipping into the two hole. Sitting third was not an option for Rip Wheeler. He was back out and rolling before the quarter in :26.2 and took over down the backstretch, passing the half in :56.0. The Indiana gelding kept the pace lively around the final turn and saw Rollinlikethunder and Trace Tetrick come to the outside of him first over at the top of the stretch.
In the lane, Rip Wheeler dug in gamely as he was attacked by both sides. Rollinlikethunder was pressing down loudly on the outside while Seaside Hanover and Jordan Ross were inching up along the inside and were matched by Vettel N, who also moved on the inside. In the end, Rip Wheeler held onto the lead and was a winner by a neck in 1:51.0. Rollinlikethunder finished second over Vettel N and LeWayne Miller, who also closed late for third.
Rip Wheeler paid $6.20 for the win. The four-year-old son of Rockin Image is owned by Jeff Fought Racing, Brian Carsey, David Fought, and Lili Haynes. He was bred by Fought’s farm, Cornerstone Stock Farm. Walter Haynes Jr. trains the talented gelding.
The cleverly named Rip Wheeler earned his seventh win of 2023 and his 14th overall in 46 career starts. He now has more than $387,000 on his card with his career best taken earlier this year at Pocono Downs in 1:48.1. It was his second straight win at Harrah’s Hoosier Park in three outings after competing out east all season at Pocono Downs and Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Also on the card was the Thanksgiving Classic for three-year-olds. Believe U Me and John DeLong were successful in the trotting filly ranks with a win by a length and a quarter in 1:54.2. Helpoftheseason and Peter Wrenn finished second over Foolish Games and Marvin Luna for third.
A trainee from the Ron Burke barn, Believe U Me is owned by W. Donovan. The Muscle Mass filly has more than $300,000 on her card for her connections.
In the three-year-old trotting colt and gelding ranks, Helpfirstedition was back in the winner’s circle for the team led by Trainer Missy Essig. He was able to get up in the last stride by a nose to win in 1:53.4, a final quarter in :26.0. French Wine and Andy Miller finished second over Texsong Soprano, also trained by Missy Essig, who was third for driver Michael Oosting.
Helpfirstedition paid $7.40 for the win. The Helpisontheway gelding is owned by Ervin Wickey, John Graber, Running Wild Stables, and John Schmucker. Martin Wickey bred the standout sophomore, who was a winner earlier this year in the Super Final for the Indiana Sires Stakes along with an elimination of the Breeders Crown.
Coach Stefanos and Trace Tetrick scored the win among three-year-old colt and gelding pacers later in the card in 1:50.1 while Racin Hungry, driven by Peter Wrenn, won her seventh race of the season in the three-year-old pacing fillies to close out the Friday card.