With the National Football League kicking off a full slate of games for Week One on Sunday afternoon and into the evening, harness racing enthusiasts were keen on watching a pair of tracks that highlighted a bevy of talented older pacers, several of which will be heading to Harrington Raceway next Monday, September 16 for the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial.
Saturday evening’s feature at Scioto Downs, a five-eighths mile oval in Ohio, was the latest renewal of the $440,000 Jim Ewart Memorial which featured many of the best older pacers in training, including reigning horse of the year, McWicked, and talented four-year-olds, This Is The Plan and Courtly Choice, the reigning Maryland-bred harness horse of the year. Lather Up was a late scratch.
When the gates folded in the Ewart Memorial, Filibuster Hanover and This Is The Plan fired off the gate to a 25.3 opener and This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) retook and met immediate pressure from Western Fame (Dan Noble) before the half in 52.4. Western Fame surged to a short lead first over on the far turn then was nailed late by McWicked (Brian Sears) in 1:49. Western Fame and Donttellmeagain (Tim Tetrick) dead-heated for the place spot with Courtly Choice closing well from far back to get fourth.
McWicked now owns a 4-2-3 slate and $725,000 bankroll from 11 starts this year and captured the Ewart for a second time for trainer Casie Coleman. The reigning horse of the year now sports a 38-25-16 slate and $4.6 million banked from 104 career tries. Western Fame delivered a gritty effort first over to dead-heat with Donttellmeagain for the place spot, while Maryland-bred Courtly Choice rallied for fourth in a good effort.
One race earlier in the $220,000 Charlie Hill Memorial for older trotters, Atlanta (Yannick Gingras) left and raced parked to gain command past the quarter, got a breather by the half in 56 flat, met token pressure from Guardian Angel As (Tim Tetrick) down the backside, shook loose from that one then held safe the late inside rallies of longshots Plunge Blue Chip and Mission Accepted to score by a head in 1:51.4. The four-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven ended a brief drought to notch her seventh win in 11 starts this year and 19th victory in 35 career tries.
Then one race earlier in the $75,000 Ohio Sire Stakes for older pacers, Sectionline Bigcry (Tyler Smith) easily lived up to his role as the 1-5 choice when he brushed to command past the grandstands the first time, rolled by the half in 54.2 and by three-quarters in 1:22.2 then edged clear late to a three-length score in 1:49.2. The four-year-old Pet Rock gelding trained by Steve Bauder recorded his 11th win in 18 starts this year and could be a sleeper invite to the Quillen next week.
Just prior to the midway point of the Saturday night card at Yonkers, Shneonucrzydiamind A (Brent Holland) just lived up to his role as the 3-5 favorite in a non-winners of $30,000 last five starts class when he gained command before a 27.3 opener, got a breather to the half, met token pressure from Bright Diamond N (Joe Bongiorno) down the backside, shook loose from that one and Blood Brother (Jason Bartlett) on the far turn then just outlasted the serious late bid of Luis Alberto N (Jim Marohn, Jr.) in 1:52.4. Shneonucrzydiamnd A ended a two-month drought with his determined win and stays eligible to the class next week.
One race later in the $46,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, Theartofconfusion A (Austin Siegelman) lived up to his role as the 6-5 favorite when he gained command in a 28.2 opener, cruised by the half in 56.4, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:23.4 then held safe 45-1 Bennhope Rulz N (Shaun Vallee) to score in 1:51. A 10-length winner in 1:49.3 one week earlier, Theartofconfusion A notched his second straight tally, owns a 7-5-5 slate from 26 starts this year and likely earned an invite to the Quillen one week from Monday.
Two races later in the $37,000 4YO Open, Shnitzledosomethin (Jordan Stratton) overcame post six to gain command in a 26.4 opener, maintained an honest tempo by the half in 55.4, met token pressure from Let’s Roll (Jim Marohn, Jr.) by three-quarters in 1:24.1, shook loose from that one then outlasted the wide, late bid of 3-5 favorite American History to score by a neck in 1:51.3. It was the fourth win in 13 starts this year for the Dylan Davis trainee and ended American History’s local dominance following consecutive 1:50 and 1:50.1 triumphs.
Speaking of the Quillen, defending champion Sunfire Blue Chip (Austin Siegelman) forged a mild 9-5 upset in the non-winners of $20,000 last five starts class when he left to protect position, retook past the opener in 27 flat, maintained an honest tempo by the half in 56.1 and by three-quarters in 1:24.1 then edged clear from Beach Boogie (George Brennan) to a two-length score in 1:52. It was only his second win in 14 starts this year and Sunfire Blue Chip will likely not get an invite back to the Quillen to defend his title.
Two races later in a non-winners of $30,000 last five starts class that served as the penultimate race on the program, Imarocnrollegend N (Bongiorno) lived up to his role as the 1-4 favorite when he gained command in a modest 27.3 opener, got a breather to the half in 57.2, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:24.4 then just outlasted the late surge of Hayden Hanover (Stratton) to score by a nose in 1:52.2.
Then one race later in a non-winners of $30,000 last five starts class for older pacers in the finale, Havefaithinme N (Jim Marohn, Jr.) forged a mild 3-2 upset when he left, yielded briefly then retook nd cruised by the half in 57.2, met token pressure from Gratian Hanover (Bongiorno) down the backside, shook loose on the far turn then held safe Alluneedisfaith N (Siegelman) to score by a length in 1:52. The eight-year-old Bettor’s Delight now owns an 8-2-4 slate and 25 wins from 73 career tries with $1.265 million banked.