Hezzz A Wise Sky Dominates In Oak Grove Open

Hezzz A Wise Sky
Published: April 1, 2024 09:37 pm EDT

Sent off as the 2-5 choice, Brandon Bates placed Hezzz A Wise Sky on the point and never raised the stick as the chalk coasted to a 1:51.1 victory in the $40,541 Open Pace on opening day at Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel on Monday, April 1.

Bates secured the lead with Hezzz A Wise Sky out of post two and pocketed Rocks Shining Star (Devon Tharps) to a :27.1 first quarter as Macs Marvel (Jimmy Whittemore) got away third. With no challengers looming past the stands first time, Hezzz A Wise Sky slowed proceedings to a :57.1 half before hitting the accelerator to uncork a sprint up the backside to three-quarters in 1:24. Rocks Shining Star grew antsy from the pocket and pulled to take his shot at the leader in the stretch, though Bates stayed chilly in the sulky to win by a measured half length at the beam. Seth Hanover (Joey Putnam) grabbed third from Macs Marvel in fourth. 

Hezzz A Wise Sky has now won three times from nine tries this season and 51 times from 111 starts overall, banking $727,688. John Filomeno conditions the seven-year-old stallion by Yankee Skyscaper for owner Triple Zzzz Stable. He paid $2.88 to win. 

In the co-featured $40,451 Fillies & Mares Open Pace, Ainthesamewithoutu (Tony Hall) climbed from last to first to win in hand in 1:52.3. The Anette Lorentzon trainee floated away last in the field of sixth and got underway along the rim after Maggie Rhee (Todd Warren) seized the lead to a :26.3 first quarter. Marching uncovered, Ainthesamewithoutu progressed to third passing three-quarters in 1:24.2 and kept charging through the final turn and in the straightaway to down Maggie Rhee by 1-1/2 lengths. Better Double Flip (Tim Wilson Jr.) followed the winner's cover to grab third and Soft Spot (Marvin Luna) took fourth. 

A five-year-old mare by Sweet Lou, Ainthesamewithoutu won her third race from nine starts this season and her 17th from 58 overall, banking $370,258. Lorentzon owns the mare, who paid $6.18 to win. 

Conrad Wins Amateur Race As USHDC Kicks Off 2024 Oak Grove Season

The United States Harness Drivers Club (USHDC), formerly known as the FADC, kicked off its 2024 season at the magnificent Oak Grove Racing and Gaming venue and 19-year-old Carson Conrad drove the four-year-old gelding Business Check to what turned out to be a handy victory in 1:54.3.

Using the inside post position to perfection, Business Check won an all out war during the first half mile before pulling away on the backside to an insurmountable lead to score by 1-1/2 lengths over the fastest-closing Palomar, handled by Jacob Stillwell. Ayr Pioneer GB, driven by Dein Spriggs, was third while Spades It Is was next for Michael River.  Straight Munro, some 20 lengths out of it early with an outside post, rallied stoutly for fifth under the guidance of Trey Brinson.

As the wings folded, Business Check left with alacrity but was joined by Mach Diesel, with Jill Brown in the sulky, and these two sizzled an opening panel in :26.4 just heads apart with the war continuing through a half in :56 with Spades It Is and Ayr Pioneer GB next. On the backside, Spades It Is, saving all the ground, moved into second with Ayr Pioneer GB taking up the chase as well. But Carson stepped on the gas during a :28.2 third quarter to skip away by almost four lengths and was unthreatened all the way home with a comfortable :30.1 final quarter.

In a post race interview, young Conrad related, “I asked Maria [Alvarez] where he likes to be and she said to try and go down the road from this post. I’d say her advice was pretty good, don’t you think?

“I live in Anderson, Indiana these days and it’s a five-hour drive each way but, I gotta say, the trip was well worth it!”

Business Check, a four-year-old gelded son of Check Six trained by Maria Alvarez for owner Terrence Smith, earned his first win of the season in seven starts to boost his lifetime bankroll to $35,663. Conrad, coming off his best season in 2023 during his brief career, earned his initial win of the year as well in only six starts.

The USHDC has donated well over $300,000 USD to various charitable organizations because of the generosity of its members donating all money earned from purses for charitable purposes, including equine aftercare and training horses for second careers in therapeutics, among others. 

Live harness racing resumes at Oak Grove on Tuesday, April 2 with the featured race slated for Race 5 on the 12-race card, a $30,000 USD Open Trot. Tuesday's card also features a $1,020.34 carryover in the Early Pick 4 (starting in Race 3) and a $2,187.48 carryover in the Late Pick 5 (starting in Race 6). First-race post time at Oak Grove is 3 p.m. (CDT).

(With files from Oak Grove Racing and USHDC)

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