By Darin Gagne, for Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Racetrack
The featured event on the Tuesday night (May 17) Harness Racing program at Running Aces was the $16,500 Open Handicap pace, which drew a compact but very talented field of five contestants.
The talk of the tote-board was California shipper A Major Omen (Gerald Longo) who was sent off as the heavy 1-2 chalk from post five. Way To Close blasted off the gate quickly from post four for driver Luke Plano and quickly established firm control of the pace and recorded solid opening fractions of :27.1 and :55.3 with A Major Omen following in the pocket and Numbered Account (Dean Magee) in third.
A Major Omen launched a first-over bid down the backstretch and applied mild pressure to the leader as they rounded the far turn and stopped the timer at 1:23.2 but the favorite failed to make much of an impression. Way To Close turned for home with a one length lead while Alilthundadownunda (Nick Roland) got rolling from the back of the pack and swept wide in the lane with a strong late rally to get up for second over A Major Omen. Way To Close ($15.20) stopped the timer in 1:52.1 while checking in a half-length ahead and completing the gate-to-wire score.
The winner is a 6 year-old son of Western Terror and is owned by Anthony Beltrami and trained by Maria Alvarez for the Williams Hernandez stable and he now shows 5 wins in 14 outings this year and twenty six career tallies.
SB Bodacious ($2.40), owned, trained and driven by Rick Magee, delivered as heavy favorite and posted his first win of the season in a $7,500 conditioned pace on Tuesday night. He recorded a gate-to-wire victory from post six in 1:54.1 and was never in doubt in the 1-1/2 length tally over a nice field of five rival pacers.
The 6 year-old gelding by Voracious Hanover has been the Champion older male pacer in Minnesota for the last two years and eclipsed the $200,000 mark in career earnings with career win number twenty-three.
Drivers Mooney Svendsen, Luke Plano, and Dean Magee and trainers Maria Alvarez and Liberio Pacheco all posted doubles on the Tuesday card.
Live Racing returns to Running Aces on Thursday (May 19) with first post at 7:00 pm (CDT) and will feature a carryover of $1,956.31 in the 20 cent Pick-5 Jackpot.