Connecting Flight stamped himself as the one to beat in the Walter Russell Memorial Pace when he cruised to victory in a sharp 1:52.2 in Saturday’s opening leg at The Meadows. The win was one of six on the harness racing card for driver Dave Palone.
Stone Fire Hanover and Official Stripes captured the other $12,000 opening leg divisions of the event for three and four-year-old pacing colts, horses and geldings. The series honours the memory of the late Walter Russell, whose distinguished career as a judge earned him a spot in the Harness Hall of Fame.
Connecting Flight prepped for the series with three tough outings at The Meadowlands. That experience showed, as he quarter-poled to the front for Dave Palone and cruised home five and a quarter lengths better than Dr Drake Ramoray, with Keystone Dylan third. Kevin Johnson trains Connecting Flight, a four-year-old Panspacificflight-Shares Rebound gelding, for Erv Miller.
In the $22,500 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace, Rockin Ron powered to his fifth straight victory — including one at Hoosier Park and four at The Meadows — for Palone, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. The four-year-old Real Desire-Im All A Roan gelding scored in 1:51, matching his lifetime-best, and extended his career bankroll to $168,668.
Tony Hall and Burke each enjoyed a triple on the 15-race card.
(With files from The Meadows)