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Strong Hope Prevails In Buffalo Open

Published: April 1, 2016 9:50 pm ET

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It may have been April Fool's Day, but the Ontario-owned trotter Strong Hope wasn't joking around at all in Buffalo Raceway's $10,000 Open on Friday night (April 1) as he registered a $17.40 surprise in a seasonal-best 1:58.3.

Lutetium did the dirty work on the front end, setting splits of :28.4, :59.2 and 1:29.1 over the fast track. Strong Hope cruised along in second and was just waiting for the race for home. That where things got interesting as Lutetium felt an onslaught coming from all directions. Northern Bullet and Justgottogetthere were coming on the outside while Strong Hope went inside.

Driver Jack Flanigen gave Strong Hope some encouragement in the passing lane and he responded positively with a :29.1 last panel to draw off to a one and three-quarter length advantage over Northern Bullet (Jim Morrill Jr.). Lutetium (Ron Beback Jr.) and Justgottogethere (Jim McNeight) were in a dead-heat for the show spot.

Owned by Nancy Knockwood of London, Ont. and trained by Joe Agostino, Strong Hope (CR Excalibur-Spring Lane) is a nine-year-old horse that has produced two wins in 12 starts in 2016, putting $16,766 in the bank. The victory also upped his career earnings to $530,910.

Beback Jr. finished the night with three victories in the sulky while Flanigen, Jim McNeight and Drew Monti all posted doubles on the card. Trainer Joe Agostino conditioned a pair of winners.

Racing will continue on Saturday night with a 12-race program scheduled for 6 p.m. There's a $1,129 carryover in the Pick 5, which begins in the fifth race.

(With files from Buffalo Raceway)

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