As if eight $250,000 Ohio Sires Stakes championship races wasn’t enough, Scott Rocks got the card rolling by setting a 1:49 Northfield Park track record.
by Bob Roberts
Like a record $2 million in Ohio Sires Stakes purses isn’t enough entertainment for a Saturday night of racing at Northfield Park?
No it’s not.
How about the fastest mile in track’s 60-year history for an appetizer?
While 64 horses tapped their heels in anticipation of the eight $250,000 Ohio Sires Stakes championship miles, Scott Rocks, a six-year-old gelding, won the night’s third race, a $20,000 open handicap, in 1:49.
His scorching mile bettered the 1:49.1 track standard set in 2013 by A Rocknroll Dance.
“He was unbelievable tonight,” said driver Aaron Merriman. “He was outside the entire trip and kept coming.”
Scott Rocks was winning for the 29th time in 95 lifetime starts.
As for the rest of the evening:
Two-Year-Old Filly Trotters — despite starting from the far outside post and then breaking after the quarter, rallied widest of all to claim the freshman filly championship mile by a half-length over Amuse’s. It was a length back to Bamaslastchance in third.
A final time of 1:57 allowed Let’s Get Started to equal the Northfield Park track record set just three weeks ago.
“When she ran in the second turn I yelled the same thing I yelled when I found out she drew the eight hole, which was ‘No!’” said winning rider Josh Sutton.
Let’s Get Started was the division’s leading point-earner after winning three of the four qualifying legs. Amuse’s second at the wire last night, also won three qualifying legs and was second on the point list.
“Thank God she’s so honest,” Sutton said of Let’s Get Started. “When I saw 1:25.4 (for the three-quarters), I knew I had their asses.”
Sutton had to wait for the judges to have the last say. They conducted an inquiry into Let’s Get Started’s going off stride, but declared there was no violation of the breaking rule.
Favored at odds of 3-2, Let’s Get Started paid $5 to win.
Two-Year-Old Filly Pacers — Berazzled, near the back of the pack after the opening half-mile, used a four-wide rally at the top of the stretch to post a mild upset in the freshman filly dash. At the end of a mile in 1:55, she and driver Peter Wrenn were two-and-a-half lengths the better of Bourbon and Barley with Zoe Ellasen third.
Type A Grey, one of just three horses who navigated the OSS four qualifying legs undefeated (also unbeaten in five starts) tired from her early efforts and finished eighth and last as the 6-5 betting favorite.
“I thought we were in trouble because we couldn’t keep up,” said winning trainer Danny Collins. “When I saw the 55 (seconds for the half), I knew they’d come back. She’s getting professional after starting out high-strung. A race at Delaware is next for her.”
Berazzled failed to win her first two Ohio State qualifying legs, but closed strongly by claiming honors in the last two races. She has now won four of seven career starts.
Two-Year-Old Colt Trotters — Buckeye Boss, perfect in six starts and favored at odds of 1-9, picked the worst night to go off stride and ended up last in the championship that saw longshot Rose Run Spanky rally from well off the pace to win by a half-length over Always A Good Time.
“When I saw the favorite break, I said “sweet,” I have a chance to win,” said winning driver Josh Sutton. “These two-year-olds will make you rack your brain.”
Rose Run Spanky had won just one of the four OSS qualifiers but was on his toes Saturday night. His 1:57 equaled Northfield Park’s track record for a juvenile gelding trotters, set in 2009 by Bookem.
Rose Run Spanky paid $20 to win.
Two-Year-Old Colt Pacers — The number eight post on a half-mile track is no match for a hot driver. Josh Sutton piloting McEwan from the extreme outside starting spot, posted an upset victory, giving him three sulky scores in the first four Ohio Sires Stakes offering.
McEwan, who had captured two of the four OSS qualifiers, rambled from well off the pace to nail the front-runners. At the wire, the 7-1 shot was three-quarters of a length the better of Corner Con Artist, the longest longshot in the race at odds of 71-1. Pace Car was third.
“This is absolutely one of the best nights of my life, and I hope it’s not over,” said Sutton. “As for the eight hole, it’s been pretty good for me.”
McEwan paid $17.60 to win and combined with Corner Con Artists for a $576.60 exacta payoff.
Division leaders Drunk On Your Love and Barnabas finished seventh and eighth, respectively
Three-Year-Old Filly Trotters – With Type A Grey and Buckeye Boss having off nights, it was left to Consolidator to remain the only perfect OSS performer (victories in four qualifying legs and the final) and she didn’t disappoint, going gate to wire in 1:55.1.
Hounded by A TC Queenie almost every step of the way, Consolidator was brave down the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length. Kestrel finished third.
“She’s been managed well,” said winning driver Chris Page of trainer Jim Arledge’s work with the filly. “He has her peaking, she drew the rail and everything went well.”
Page, who had mounts in all eight OSS finals, struggled to find the winner’s circle until Consolidator took the track. Losing in the state-sponsored series this year has been foreign to Page. He dominated the OSS qualifying legs with an astonishing 36 victories (25.4 per cent of the 141 races).
Three-Year-Old Filly Pacers – Driver Josh Sutton completed a remarkable night’s work by rallying My Tweed Heart to prevail in 1:53.1. It was his fourth OSS victory on the championship card. He had drives in five of them and was unplaced in the two-year-old filly pace when Maavelous finished seventh.
“Everything has fallen into place,” said Sutton. “I hate losing more than I love winning, so I can’t complain.”
Left in Sutton’s wake was not only runner-up Queen Ann M, but third place finisher Miss Me Yet, last year’s champion filly pacer who made all the pace but couldn’t withstand the pressure in the stretch.
Sutton’s run overshadowed the work of trainer Jim Dailey as My Tweed Heart was his third OSS success of the night to go along with Rose Run Spanky and Scotch McEwan.
Three-Year-Old Colt Trotters – Wegoferdaprize extended his win streak to seven races by scrambling from the middle of the pack to post a one-and-three-quarter length victory over 70-1 shot Lionbacker Kid. Kanthaka, the 2-5 favorite, finished third.
“He knows how to win,” winning driver Chris Page said of Wegoferdaprize. “He didn’t have the best of trips, but there was a hot pace with a lot of money on the line.”
Wegoferdaprize got her mile in 1:56.2 and paid $8.40 to win.
While the eight hole may have been the path to success for Let’s Get Started and Scotch McEwan, it was poison for MJB Got Faith, the 2015 freshman colt trotting champion who races for 11-year-old Breana Carsey.
A wide trip condemned him to a sixth place number eight post at Scioto Downs on July 15. Overdressed, also a winner of three qualifying legs, who has recently been plagued by breaking issues, drew the number two post.
Three-Year-Old Colt Pacers – Super Night ended on a rousing note when Whataboy, after stinging the 8-5 favorite Mr Wiggle Pants in the opening quarter of the mile, sat in until reaching the passing lane where he scrambled to a length victory over the stubborn pacesetter. Canadia’s Bakin was third.
Whataboy, a winner of two qualifying legs, was driven by Ronnie Wrenn for trainer Brian Brown.
“This horse has been a pleasant surprise,” said Brown of the gelding who won just once in nine starts as a two-year-old.
“I knew it would take a lot of speed to beat (Mr Wiggle Pants),” said Wrenn. “My horse stung him good and then the passing lane was my friend.”
Whataboy also got an assist when Hustling Charley dueled with Mr Wiggle Pants at the three-quarters before fading to finish fourth.
“Ohio sired horses are back and they showed it tonight,” said Wrenn.
Whataboy was caught in 1:51.3 and paid $7 to win.