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Field Set For 2012 Molson Pace

Published: May 18, 2012 8:01 pm ET

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Clear Vision and Aracache Hanover won their respective $20,000 eliminations for Western Fair District's signature race, the $300,000 Molson Pace, during an action-packed card of harness racing on Friday.

Clear Vision wore down stablemate Atochia in late stretch to prevail in the first elimination providing driver John Campbell with a victory in his return appearance at the London, Ont. oval.

Making his aged pacing debut, Up The Credit (Jody Jamieson) protected the pylon position with Atochia (Yannick Gingras) firing up alongside him from post four before settling for a pocket trip. Meanwhile, Clear Vision and Campbell settled away third from a post two start.

Up The Credit carved out early fractions of :27 and :56.3 with the field of five following in single-file alignment.

Down the backstretch, Clear Vision angled off the pylons flushing Atochia out of the two-hole. Atochia cleared to command at the 1:25 third quarter mark while Clear Vision pursued his fellow Ron Burke trainee into the stretch. The six-year-old Western Hanover-Artistic Vision gelding paced home in :27-seconds to score by half a length in a season's-best 1:52.2. St Elmo Hero (Anthony Haughan) and Stonebridge Tonic (Doug McNair) finished third and fourth, both earning a spot in the stake final next week.

"It feels pretty good," said Campbell, who got his start in harness racing at Western Fair before making his home in New Jersey at the Meadowlands Racetrack. He hadn't made an appearance at the track in 32 years. "It certainly brings back a lot of memories. The paddock has certainly changed. A lot of the buildings around here have changed so much I wouldn't know the place, but once you get on the track everything becomes normal again and natural for me.

"Being in the two-hole I didn't have to use him [Clear Vision] the first part of the mile," continued the sport's richest reinsman. "They were down to the quarter on time so I thought I'd move him down the backstretch whether Atochia came out of the two-hole or not. I felt pretty good when I got cover going into the last turn there. He felt real strong racing out of the turn. He ran a pretty good horse down."

Clear Vision paid $10 to win (third choice) for the 18th time in his career. The near-millionaire, winner of a Levy leg earlier this year at Yonkers Raceway, is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, The Panhellenic Stb Corp., and James Koran.

Aracache Hanover was a gate-to-wire winner in the other elimination, fighting off another Burke trainee during a sizzling mile.

With the inside post advantage, the 5-2 second choice took control of the field right from the word 'go' and had his five foes stacked up behind him in post position order by the one-eighth mile marker.

Aracache Hanover reached the first quarter pole in :27.1 before facing first over pressure from defending Molson Pace champion and 1-2 race favourite Foiled Again (Gingras) to the half in :56.1 and three-quarters in 1:23.3.

Foiled Again ducked into the pocket around the final turn and moved back out for a final challenge in the stretch, but Aracache Hanover paced strong to the wire in 1:51, missing the all-age track record by just one-fifth of a second. Foiled Again, who finished three-quarters of a length behind, was followed by Razzle Dazzle (Campbell) and Machal Jackson (J.R. Plante).

"Any race is great to win, but when it's for your dad it's something special," said McNair, who drove Aracache Hanover for his father, trainer Gregg McNair. "We made the front pretty easy and the best one in there got away third. He came at us on the outside and he raced tough, but ours raced big too."

Aracache Hanover paid $7 to win. The Dragon Again-Armbro Cachet gelding, who has won 19 races lifetime and over $1.14 million in purse earnings, is owned by William Switala and James Martin.

In other action, First Rate Shark and McNair pulled off a mild upset in the $16,000 Terry Provost Wall Of Fame Pace, named in honour of the half-mile track’s newest Wall of Fame inductee.

The Cams Card Shark-Ashlee Lyn ridgling advanced first up from fourth at the half and inherited the lead as early speedster Acceptable Risk (Trevor Henry), the second choice to early breaker All Tiger N (Plante), made a miscue himself and caused interference to most of the field. First Rate Shark was strong on the lead the rest of the way and cruised to a two and a half length score in a season’s-best time of 1:54. The winner paid $18.20. David O’Brien trains and co-owns the seven-year-old pacer with Anne O’Keefe of Ferryland, Nfld.

The Wall of Fame induction ceremony took place trackside following the race. Provost, who became a race secretary in Western Canada in the 1960s, went on to become one of Canada’s most respected administrators in harness racing. He joined the Western Fair Raceway team in 1973 and spent the next 18 years in what he calls his perfect job.

The 2012 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold season kicked off during the card with three $40,000 eliminations for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings.

In the second elimination, Cold Certified established a new track record for three-year-old gelding trotters with an impressive 1:57.4 effort, which shaved a full second off the previous mark of 1:58.4 set by Boogie Woogie.

The race saw Cimeronken (Campbell) in control early, but Jason Brewer sent Cold Certified up from third and took over the lead at the :28.3 opening quarter. He continued on top through the :58.2 half and shook off a determined Grandin Road (Trevor Ritchie), who was head-to-head with him at the 1:27.4 third quarter, to win in the record time. Keystone Orion (Dave Boughton) finished two lengths back in second while Cimeronken was third.

Gary Lance of Port Perry, Ont. owns and trains the Kadabra-I Like Stephanie gelding, who now has three wins and two seconds in five sophomore starts. He is the first foal of the $205,000 winner I Like Stephanie.

One of last year’s top performers, Hambletonian eligible Il Mago made his 2012 debut an impressive one in his elimination. Tymal Oh So Nice (Gingras) set the tempo in this test with fractions of :29.1 and 1:00.2. Ritchie had Il Mago out and driving for the top from third and they were head-to-head with the leader at the 1:29.3 third panel before pulling away. Il Mago hit the wire in 1:59 over Midfield Magic (Campbell) and Heres The Magic (McNair).

A winner of $170,000 from 10 starts last year at two, the Kadabra-Northern Style colt is owned by breeder Chris Alexander of Aurora, Ont. and New Jersey's Mark Harder. Rod Boyd trains the half-brother to $480,000 winner Shoeless White Sox.

In the first elimination it was Northern Escort holding strong to win for Yves Filion in 1:58.3. The Kadabra-Tease Please colt grabbed the lead just past the :29 opening quarter from Ballykeel Ulysses (Trevor Henry), hit the half in :59.2, repelled a first up challenge on his way to the 1:28.4 three-quarters, and held off a fast-closing Ballykeel Ulysses to earn the win. Warrawee Nimby (Ritchie) finished third.

The win was the third straight for Northern Escort, trained by Filion’s son Justin for owners Les Ecuries JYJ Inc. of St-Andre-D'Argenteuil, Que. Bred by Dr. John McKnight and Pedigree Farm, Northern Escort made just three starts last year at two. He now has $61,000 banked to date this year from a half-dozen starts.

Five-year-old Stonehouse Adam scored a 1:55.2 off-the-pace victory in the evening's $11,000 Preferred 2 Pace for driver Robert Shepherd, trainer Ray Bunn and owner-breeder McCarthy Family Farms Ltd. of Granton, Ont.

The City of London Series for trotters continued with a pair of $8,000 second leg divisions for horses and geldings going to the near perfect Amigo Hall gelding P C Firecracker in a career-best equalling time of 2:01.4 and the repeating Striking Sahbra colt Hey Aj in 2:00.4. A trio of matching divisions for fillies and mares were won by the maiden-breaking Ken Warkentin miss Real Housewife in 2:02.2, Daylon Magician's perfect little Pegasus Spur sister Daylon Miracle in 2:01, and Kadabra filly Amber Kadabra in a new mark of 2:02.

Here is a look at the post position draw for next Friday's Molson Pace:

1. St Elmo Hero
2. Clear Vision
3. Atochia
4. Machal Jackson
5. Razzle Dazzle
6. Foiled Again
7. Aracache Hanover
8. Stonebridge Tonic
AE. Valentino
AE. Up The Credit

Here is how the field for the $130,000 OSS Gold Final will line up next Friday:

1. Il Mago
2. Midfield Magic
3. Warrawee Nimby
4. Ballykeel Ulysses
5. Cold Certified
6. Northern Escort
7. Keystone Orion
8. Cimeronken

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Western Fair Raceway.

(With files from Western Fair District)

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