Way Too Sweet Takes Second Series Finale

Way Too Sweet (Rockin Image) won the Bunny Lake Pacing Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel last spring. The Andy Gardner-trained mare wound up taking home the Three Year Old Pacer of the Year Award in 2022 due in large part to her series win. The ’23 campaign didn’t begin really strong for the now four year old distaffer who only owned one win this season heading into November. Way Too Sweet started to find the winning way again prevailing in back-to-back races leading up to the Charlie Hoffman Pace which began on November 25th.

Way Too Sweet rattled off another pair of victories in the two legs of the series which each went for a purse of $10,000. Leading driver Jimmy Devaux has gotten along well with the Gardner trainee and wasted little time moving her to the lead in Saturday’s $22,800 Charlie Hoffman Pace Final. The 1-2 favorite carved up first-half fractions of 28 and 58.1 and never faced a legitimate challenge until the stretch when pocket-sitter Yachtsman tried to pass up the inside.

Way Too Sweet proved to be way too tough for the competition as the race’s lone lady beat the boys stopping the timer in 1:55 for her sixth win of the year and the fifth in her last six starts. Yachtsman (Jay Randall) finished second to complete a $7.90 exacta while two-leg series winner Rock This Way (Brett Beckwith) earned the show spot to round out a $34.60 triple. Devaux, who is putting the finishing touches on his third straight driving title, won the Charlie Hoffman Pace for the second consecutive December. Way Too Sweet is owned by George Tackley of Syracuse and Wendy Storrier of Homer, NY.

Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon when the Bullet Bob Meyer Trotting Series Final reaches its conclusion with a $21,400 Final in the matinee’s fourth race. First post time is set for noon.

Mike Sardella recap

Jessica Hallett photo

Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York

Steve’s Hot Rod & Jay Randall

There were two divisions of the second leg of the Charlie Hoffman Pacing Series contested on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Sunday was the last chance for the pacers to earn points towards next Sunday’s Series Final. Each of the $10,000 divisions saw a repeat winner as both Northern Rein (American Ideal) and Steve’s Hot Rod (Voracious Hanover) recorded their second consecutive victory on the matinee card. The Kerin Warner-trained Northern Rein prevailed in leg one despite making an early break in his race. The six year old rallied and powered into the lead at the half before powering away for the decisive score. In Sunday’s second leg, Northern Rein had Leon Bailey at the controls when he left to sit the pocket. Bailey didn’t wait long to pop the pocket and the race’s big favorite proved up to the task. Northern Rein drew away from his rivals to record a four and a half length victory in 1:55.2 and perhaps stamp himself as the favorite for next week’s Series Final.

Steve’s Hot Rod stayed red hot on Sunday as the Andy Gardner trainee went coast-to-coast for the second straight week with Jay Randall at the controls. The seven year old pacer worked hard to get to the top but once he did, it was over. Steve’s Hot Rod became the second horse on the day to sweep the legs of the series leading up to next week’s Final. The 1-2 betting favorite’s win was his seventh of the season. The victory was one of two on the day for Randall who piloted the winner of the $15,000 Open Pace as Rob Harmon’s Macheasy A (Mach Three) swooped the group to record his fifth win in the local Open in 2021.

Live racing continues on Monday afternoon with first post time set for noon.



Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser