The first round of qualifiers were held at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Saturday, March 11 and several races dipped under the 1:56 time barrier. The quickest on the day was a gelding from the Mark P’Pool Stable named Shakertown, who won his race in 1:52.4.
Guided by Brandon Bates, Shakertown went straight to the lead and never looked back, winning by two and one-quarter lengths over Caribbean King and Jordan Ross, who flew home in :25.4 for second. Serious Miki and Joey Putnam finished third.
Shakertown, a four-year-old son of American Ideal, is now owned by John Barnard, who acquired him at the end of 2022. The New Jersey bred gelding comes into his four-year-old season with seven wins and more than $150,000 in earnings. His career best time of 1:51.3 was taken last year at Tioga Downs. He has been racing out east most recently at Freehold before relocating to Indiana.
Another impressive winner on the day was This Kit Rocks from the Joe Putnam barn. The five-year-old son of Rockin Image was flushed first over and bore down on the leader Star Commander N and Brandon Bates in the stretch before getting a neck in front for the win in 1:54.3, a final quarter in :26.3. Peter Dalt and Jordan Ross finished third in the mile.
Guided by Joey Putnam, This Kit Rocks is owned by JP Racing LLC and Joey Putnam. The gelding is out of the Putnam’s good race mare Western Kit, who earned a mark of 1:53.0 during her racing career and earned $138,000. This Kit Rocks comes into 2023 with 16 career wins and a mark of 1:50.1 taken last year at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. Overall, he has surpassed his mother’s earnings with $170,000 on his card.
Another Putnam standout was included on the card as Rockin Nola, 2022 Older Pacing Mare of the Year, competed in the action. The seven-year-old Rockin Image mare followed along as Rush To Judgement and Brandon Bates led most of the mile before being overtaken by True Blue Lindy and Tyler Smith in the stretch. Rockin Nola also closed in late to finish second behind True Blue Lindy, who scored the win in 1:54.4. Rockin Nola paced her final quarter in :26.3, showing she is ready for action in 2023.
The fastest trot of the day went to Meadowbrook Mark and John DeLong. The four-year-old Dover Dan gelding trotted his mile in 1:55.2 for the win by a length over Tug and Coop and Tyler Smith. Epic Dreamer and Rick Plano rounded out the top three.
Meadowbrook Mark is owned by Erne Gaskin Stables, Warren Emery, Doug Shore and Amanda Gaskin. The gelding was bred by Karl Miller. It was the first start of the year for the trotter, who has four career wins on his card. The qualifier becomes his quickest mile thus far in his career. He is the son of former Indiana Sires Stakes contender Foxy Swan, who earned more than $234,000 during her racing career and took a mark of 1:57.0. Meadowbrook Mark is her first foal. She also has a yearling colt by You Know You Do named Meadowbrook Chase that will be ready for the sales this fall.