Leager homebred’s late kick seals win in MDRF split
— The hard work of owners, trainers and drivers with Mid-Shore ties paid off at Ocean Downs and Harrington Raceway over Labor Day weekend.
Right at the midway point of the 12-race card Sunday night, Sept. 3 at Ocean Downs, Slick Tony (Russell Foster) was sent out as the 2-5 favorite from post two in the first of two $14,000 Maryland Standardbred Race Fund divisions for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings. The juvenile son of No Spin Zone is owned, bred and trained by George “Ronnie” Leager of Sudlersville.
Slick Tony arrived with three wins from his first four career outings over the seaside oval, and the talented homebred already had won a MDRF event in just his second career outing on July 31.
When the gate folded Sept. 3, Slick Tony left well enough to protect the pocket behind Redline Rusty (Art Stafford Jr.), who carved out honest fractions of 27.3 and 57.3 to the half. The Leager homebred apparently was comfortably sitting a two hole.
But things got considerably more interesting down the backside when Allies Finale (Roger Plante Jr.) offered serious firstover pressure and Bo Breeze (Allan Davis) loomed menacingly second over as Redline Rusty led the field by three-quarters in 1 minute, 27 seconds.
Around the final turn, Allies Finale surged past Redline Rusty to gain a short lead and Bo Breeze gradually angled three-wide to launch his late bid.
Slick Tony appeared trapped along the inside behind a tiring leader, and for a minute it looked as though Foster was going to steer the Leager trainee to the far outside. But the track’s leading driver waited until the top of the lane and steered Slick Tony to the passing lane.
Slick Tony shifted gears and outkicked Bo Breeze to prevail by nearly a length in 1 minute, 56.4 seconds.
In five starts to begin his career, Slick Tony now owns four wins and earnings of nearly $17,000.
His lone setback can be attributed in part to unfortunate circumstances.
Sent out as an overlooked 10-1 shot in an overnight race against older rivals, Slick Tony was locked in down the backside, got impeded by one foe, never found clearance outside and rallied belatedly along the passing lane to finish second — beaten just a neck in 1:58.2.
Slick Tony has rebounded to win two straight outings, taking an overnight event by six lengths in 1:56.3 and then the Sept. 3 MDRF split in 1:56.4.
Toward the latter portion of the Sept. 3 card, catch driver Jared Moyer of Warwick recorded back-to-back winners with logical horses for the same conditioner.
In the second $14,000 MDRF split for 2-year-old pacing colts, Moyer steered Lloyd’s All In to a wire-to-wire score as the even-money choice in 1:57.1 for trainer Arlene Cameron and owner Pamela Wagner. This was the second win in seven starts for the juvenile son of Rusty’s All In, pushing his seasonal earnings past $16,000.
One race later, Moyer guided Southwind Ferrari to a mild 9-5 upset in a non-winners of $1,501 last five starts class for trotters. The sophomore son of Chapter Seven, trained by Cameron for owner Scott Woogen, rallied second over to overhaul even- money choice Fear (Kim Vincent) to score by a neck in 2:01.2.
This was the second win in nine starts this year for Southwind Ferrari, and his fourth win in 14 career tries while making his seaside oval debut.
On Labor Day Monday at Harrington Raceway in southern Delaware, Mandalay Hall capped the 10-race holiday program by prevailing as the 7-2 second choice in a nonwinners of four races or $20,001 lifetime condition for younger pacers.
A 4-year-old Third Straight gelding trained by Eli Scott Jr. of Warwick for owner Greg Simendinger, Mandalay Hall quarter moved to command and led the field by the half in 57.3. Meeting pressure from 4-5 choice Ain’t It Fun (Montrell Teague) down the backside and through the far turn, Mandalay Hall outlasted the choice for a head tally in 1:56.1.
Mandalay Hall now owns a 2-6-4 slate and $28,000 bankroll from 24 starts this year for Scott. The first win was during the spring meet at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland.
I’m The Director (Jonathan Roberts), a 3-year-old Art Director gelding owned and trained by Leager, settled for fourth after sitting a pocket trip through the first three calls in the Harrington finale on Monday. I’m The Director won his previous start at Harrington on Aug. 28 by a neck in 1:57.2 as the odds-on choice and won a conditioned event at Ocean Downs as the 3-5 favorite on July 12 in 1:56.3.
At the midway point of the closing night at Ocean Downs, on Labor Day, Makenzie Mc (Kim Vincent) put the finishing touches on his solid summer season at the seaside oval by finishing second in a non-winners of $4,251 last five starts class for older pacers. The 9-year-old Pro Bono gelding owned and trained by Jay Baxter of Worton rallied inside to finish second behind 1-2 favorite Whirl Monroe (Russell Foster) in 1:54.4.
Makenzie Mc sports a solid 5-3-1 slate and $19,500 bankroll from 24 starts this year, including four wins and two secondplace finishes at the seaside oval this summer.
Several races later on the last card of the Ocean Downs meet, Heartsafire (Bill Long) saved ground throughout and rallied late to finish second in a non-winners of $2,751 last five starts class for pacing fillies and mares. The 5-year-old Artiscape mare is owned and trained by Danny Myer, whose wife is Kent County native Gigi Silcox Myer.
Heartsafire finished second in each of her last two outings. Overall she won once and finished second four times at the Ocean Downs meet. She has a $14,000 bankroll from 24 seasonal starts.
Local trainers also settled for minor spoils in two of the last three races on the card. Yin And Out (Frank Milby) finished a solid second in a non-winners of two races lifetime class for pacing fillies and mares. The 4-year-old Rockin Image mare owned and trained by Eli Scott had won her local debut on Aug. 27 in 2:01.3.
In the penultimate race of the meet, Fire In The Belly (Roger Plante Jr.) finished second in a non-winners of $2,751 last five starts class for older pacers. The 6-year-old Real Artist gelding is trained by Trevor Stafford of Greensboro.
Fire In The Belly earned the place spot in his last start over the oval, having defeated tougher foes at Ocean Downs by two lengths in 1:54.4 on July 23.