Third-time starter Ideal Joey ($3.90) impressed at odds-on in his first-round $7,500 Nichols True Value Late Closing Series division on Sunday (May 15) at Tioga Downs, making all the pace and evading the first-over Cenovis for a 1:53.3 triumph.
Mike Simons sprinted clear with the three-year-old Roll With Joe gelding on entry to the first turn, assuming command from Diamond J (Fern Paquet Jr.) through a :28 initial quarter before backing down the tempo with a circuit to go. Following a :57 half-mile, Ideal Joey was nudged along by a steadily-advancing Cenovis through a :28.1 third quarter. Ideal Joey responded instantly to the pressure, edging clear on the far turn and ultimately prevailing by two and a half lengths. Runner-up Cenovis held two and three-quarter lengths clear of the second-over JK Onaroll (John Cummings Jr.).
John Butenschoen trains Ideal Joey for the Harmony Oaks Racing Stable and William Wiswell.
The win for Simons was part of a Sunday afternoon driving grand slam. Justin Huckabone accounted for three wins on the 13-race program.
The other Nichols True Value division went to Le Gambe ($7.60), who pounced in upper stretch and worked clear of the duelling Century Chancellor (Simons) and Rocket J (Jim Marohn Jr.) for a 1:56.4 victory. Mike Simons drove the three-year-old Shadyshark Hanover gelding for owner Ronald Michelon and trainer Erv Miller.
In the overnight feature, a $9,000 top-level conditioned pace, Tony Dinges trainee Grande Seelster ($30.40, Scott Coulter) emerged out of traffic in the last 70 yards, wedging wide to overtake Murder He Wrote (Marohn) and Winyard Hanover (Simons) in the final yards of a 1:53.3 mile. Favourite P L Idaho (Clements) only could muster fourth after faltering mid-race despite a ferocious stand-side rally.
Off the track, Tioga Downs mainstay Floyd, a 22-year-old quarter horse, was honoured on Sunday afternoon. Floyd, accompanied by longtime Tioga outrider Wendy Ross, will conclude his career at Solvalla Racecourse in Sweden later this month at the 2016 Elitloppet.
As no one hit the 50-cent Pick 5, the carryover for Friday (May 20) evening's card mounts to $498.30. First post on Friday is slated for 6:30 p.m. EDT.