Admiral Hill Sets Track Record at Oak Grove with Kentucky Sire Stakes Win

Per Engblom’s pacing titan Admiral Hill again exerted authority over his peers to muscle a near gate-to-wire victory in the $50,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes (KYSS) third round at Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel on Monday (June 17) while also going the fastest mile ever paced over the track by an aged gelding. 

Starting from the outermost post in the quintet, Admiral Hill (driven by Yannick Gingras) floated off the wings and towards the front through a :26.1 first quarter carved by stablemate Blue Lou (Dexter Dunn) leaving from the pylon post. Once on the helm, Admiral Hill filled his lungs to a :54.3 half and breezed up the backside when blitzed by For Once Inmy Life (Andy McCarthy), who stayed at the pacesetter’s throat by three-quarters in 1:21.1 and all through the final turn. Gingras hit the pedal at the top of the stretch with a few taps of the whip and Admiral Hill accelerated for the finish to a wrapped win by a length in 1:48.3. Tip Top Cat (Todd McCarthy) closed from second over for second with Blue Lou taking third and For Once Inmy Life fading to fourth. 

Winning his sixth race from seven starts this season and his 15th from 33 in his career, Admiral Hill has now banked $434,008. Morrison Racing Stables owns the gelding by Sweet Lou who paid $2.76 to win. His 1:48.3 mile bested the previous Oak Grove track record for aged pacing geldings of 1:48.4 set by Surfer Beach in 2022 and matched by Goldie’s Legacy a month after. 

French Wine (Andy Miller) just missed the Oak Grove track record when he won the first of three KYSS divisions for trotting males with a 1:51.2 romp. Miller grabbed the lead from post 5 past a steep first quarter of :26.1 but snagged enough of a breather to a :56 half to storm through the remainder. Easily rebuffing a first-over push from The Hazelton (Yannick Gingras) to three-quarters in 1:23.4, French Wine scampered clear of his peers and widened his advantage all through the lane until passing the beam 6-1/2 lengths in front of Brodeur (Dexter Dunn) rallying for second. Country Dagger (Andy McCarthy) sat a pocket trip and gave chase in third while Once In A Lifetime (Todd McCarthy) rallied down the center of the track for fourth. 

A stallion by the late Bar Hopping, French Wine has now won 11 times from 34 starts and banked $1,119,194 for owners Andy Miller Stable Inc., Daniel Plouffe, Jean Plouffe and One Legend Stable Inc. Julie Miller trains the victor who returned $7.14 to win. 

Drink Up Drink Up (Marvin Luna) landed a monumental upset in the second KYSS split when rising from the ash of a torrid tempo and striking a 29-1 blow in the closing strides of a 1:53.2 mile. Action initiated promptly with a three-wide battle to the first turn won by Djimon (David Miller), who paid a :26.3 toll to get to the lead. Cecil Hanover (Peter Wrenn) then followed suit passing the stands to move for the lead with 1-9 choice Bestfriend Volo (Dexter Dunn) tracking his cover before taking over control at a :54.2 half. Dunn let Bestfriend Volo roll up the backside towards three-quarters in 1:22.4 but quickly came under pressure to the final turn as Djimon pulled out of third and lead a charge swarming for the lead. Show Me A Million (Lewayne Miller) also came swinging for home but Drink Up Drink Up had the most steam from between horses and motored for the lead in midstretch. Drink Up Drink Up stayed firm to the finish to keep a neck up on Djimon in second and Show Me A Million in third while Cecil Hanover managed to take fourth. 

Paying $60.18 to win, Drink Up Drink Up notched his seventh win from 32 starts and has now earned $117,278. Walter Haynes Jr. trains the gelded son of Trixton for owner Adam Friedland. 

Ari Ferrari J (Dexter Dunn) later scored a decisive pillar-to-post win in the final KYSS split for trotting males. Dunn cleared command from Prince Of Honor (Todd McCarthy) after a :27.1 first quarter and marched through the rest unfazed. Clocking a :56 half and three-quarters in 1:24.1, Ari Ferrari J drew clear of Prince Of Honor in the lane to register a four-length win in 1:52.2 with Ahadi As (David Miller) saving ground to take third and Yo Tater (Verlin Yoder) rallying from last for fourth. 

Tony Alagna trains Ari Ferrari J, a stallion by Walner, for owner Kenneth Jacobs. He won his ninth race from 35 starts, has now banked $873,681 and paid $2.72 to win. 

Strong Poison (Yannick Gingras) dominated her peers in the lone KYSS dash for pacing fillies with a 1:49.4 stroll on the lead. Though Hungry For Love (David Miller) took the lead past a :26 first quarter, Gingras moved quickly with Strong Poison to circle back to the top before a :55 half and coasted to the end. She clicked by three-quarters in 1:22 and needed just a tap or two of the whip through the lane to stay on the straight and narrow to a length win over Hungry For Love while Zanatta (Andy Miller) gave chase off a pylon ride in third and Keep My Secret (Andy McCarthy) rallied down the center of the track for fourth. 

Virgil Morgan Jr. trains Strong Poison, a daughter of Always B Miki, for owners Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Odds On Racing. She won her 12th race from 32 starts, has now earned $924,475 and paid $2.66 to win. 

Mambacita (Dexter Dunn) applied similar dominance to her rivals with a 1:52.1 win in the single division of KYSS for trotting mares. Leaving from the pylon post, Mambacita secured the top with ease and carved a clip of :27.1, :56 and 1:23.4 all with Railee Something (Andy McCarthy) breathing on her back. Dunn braced for the charge of Railee Something moving around the final turn and Mambacita again kept finding once confronted and waded off Railee Something’s bid to the beam by a half length. Canterbury Hanover (Andy Miller) rallied for third, beaten another four lengths, with Picaboo Lady (Yannick Gingras) fourth. 

A daughter of Tactical Landing, Mambacita has now won 17 races from 37 starts and earned $970,418 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Alagna Racing LLC and Pryde Stables Inc. Tony Alagna trains the mare who paid $2.32 to win. 

A pair of Open Pace events also went postward on the undercard. Battle of Lake Erie champ Little Rocket Man (John DeLong) made a pitstop to Oak Grove and survived a parked mile to post a 1:49.3 win by two lengths in the $41,000 Open Pace. Ken Rucker trains the now 60-time winner for owners Russel Beeman and Jack Freeman and he paid $3.04 to win. Marloe Hanover (Todd McCarthy) later led nearly every step of the mile to grab victory in the $41,000 Fillies & Mares Open Pace with a 1:50.4 effort. Virgil Morgan Jr. trains 44-time winner for owners Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Odds On Racing and she returned $5.22 to win. 

Live racing resumes at Oak Grove on Tuesday (June 18) at 3 p.m. (CDT). Oak Grove will also race an additional day this week with a special 15-race pari-mutuel card on Wednesday (June 19) race card featuring the Kentucky Proud Series that gets underway at 11 a.m. (CDT). Free program pages for every race day, courtesy of TrackMaster, are available on the Oak Grove Racing website (https://www.oakgrovegaming.com/racing/handicapping-resources/).

Admiral Hill with Yannick Gingras winning in a track-record 1:48.3 in a $50,000 KYSS division at Oak Grove