Penetrate and Meadow Ro Mar had to circle Rosecroft's half-mile track twice to win their $115,000 divisions of the William E. Miller Memorial pace Saturday night, but it was the first half-mile that determined why they won.
Jim Miller, who drove Penetrate to victory in the first division, had to make a decision at the start whether he would go for the lead and risk getting hung outside or tuck in and race along the rail.
Positive Yankee and race favorite Flight Of Fire, who Miller said he feared the most, figured to go for the lead. So Miller guided Penetrate, who he described as "a lazy horse behind the gate," to the rail, then sat back and watched the pace-setters go for the lead.
Flight Of Fire's driver, Micky McNichol, had no choice but to race on the outside while trying to keep up with early leaders Forward Thrust, Steady Governor and Positive Yankee. Flight Of Fire, who had not raced since March 21, captured the lead at the half-mile pole, but it took a :56 4/5 first half to do it. It was too much.
Penetrate went three wide in the stretch and won by 1 1/2 lengths. His time was 1:57 on a track the U.S. Trotting Association recently ranked as the fastest half-miler in North America, and tied the Miller stakes record set by Rabbit Road in 1982.
In the second division, before the horses had reached the quarter pole, Joseph Scorsone's quick move helped him win with Meadow Ro Mar.
Coming to the quarter, Stargell Lobell, racing second on the outside, hooked wheels with Zephyr Almahurst, who was third along the rail. Stargell Lobell broke stride and scattered the field.
Scorsone, then behind Stargell Lobell, saw the interference coming and quickly moved Meadow Ro Mar to the outside and around the trouble.
Witsends Wizard, a 3-to-5 favorite, was not so lucky. Driver Ron Waples and Witsends Wizard were moving fast on the outside and did not have time to avoid the breaking Stargell Lobell. Witsends Wizard was interfered with, broke stride and soon was hopelessly trailing the field.
With their main competition essentially gone, the last half was academic for Scorsone and Meadow Ro Mar. He won in 1:58 1/5 over Ceviche.