Hoosier Park Racing & Casino played host to action packed 14-race card on Friday evening, and it was driver Sam Widger who stole the show.
Winning eight of the evening’s 14 races, Widger tied the record for most wins in one night at Hoosier Park joining Eric Ledford, Don Irvine, Jr. and Trace Tetrick. Ledford established the record at Hoosier Park during the 1999 harness racing season while Irvine Jr. recorded eight wins in 2003 and the record has remained untouched since Tetrick accomplished an eight win night in 2012.
Slated as the 13th race on the program, the evening’s card was highlighted by a $21,000 Invitational Pace and just as impressive as Widger recording his seventh win of the night was Night Pro finding the winner’s circle for the fifth consecutive time at Hoosier Park. Stopping the timer in 1:50.4, Night Pro turned in a dominant performance to score by nearly three lengths and record his eighth win of the season.
Trained and owned by Dale Decker, the six year-old son of Pro Bono Best-Midnight Jewel added another stakes victory to his impressive resume after scoring in the $70,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Aged Pace Final at Hoosier Park last week. Night Pro has now won 38 of 70 lifetime outings while amassing $658,182 in lifetime purse earnings.
Widger’s first win of the night came in the second race on the program behind Joe Tucky for trainer Lester Raber. Using gate to wire tactics, Joe Tucky recorded his second win of the season and also established a new lifetime mark of 1:55.2 with the win. Widger and Raber also teamed up to reach the winner’s circle with Nothinbutanallstar who scored in a conditioned trot in 1:54.2 by five lengths and give Widger his third of the night. E R Rudy was an 11-1 upset winner for Widger and trainer Don Eash in the $15,000 Open 2 Pace earlier in the program. Widger scored back to back victories with Anoche for trainer Al Tomlinson and then JDs Macca Lodge for trainer Walter Haynes, Jr.
Widger also drove two winners from the Ernie Gaskin Stable on the evening’s program. Scoring earlier with Shakerattlenrock in a claiming pace, Widger recorded his eighth and final win of the night in the last race of the program behind the three-year-old pacing colt, Pet Shark. Utilizing a :26.2 final quarter, Pet Shark established a new lifetime best of 1:51.3 while notching his fourth win of the season.
“It’s kind of euphoric for me,” Widger said with a smile after win number eight. “Did that really just happen? I am blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to drive nice horses for great trainers.”
Widger is currently third on the leading driver standings at Hoosier Park for the 2016 season with 201 trips to the winner’s circle behind Trace Tetrick, who leads all with 332 wins, and John DeLong in second with 282 victories.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, Widger will lead all drivers into round 2 of the 2016 All Star Driver Series after winning round one with 49 points. Saturday’s 14-race card will feature the second round of the five race challenge for Hoosier Park’s leading drivers with the winner awarded the dream prize of their choice, a $10,000 cash prize, an exotic vacation, or their favourite “always wanted to have” toy.