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Won The West In Molson Pace Thriller

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Published: May 28, 2010 11:01 pm ET

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Heavy favourite Won The West wore down his stablemate Foiled Again in the final strides to capture the $312,000 richest and heaviest bet Molson Pace on the richest single program at Western Fair Raceway on Friday night.

After Won The West prompted a recall Western Fair's signature race, Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras) left sharply from Post 4 putting up a :26.2 opener with the inside starter, Won The West and David Miller, filling the pocket while Lucky Man (Mark MacDonald), last year's runner-up, rolled off stride.

As the field raced to the half in :55.3 Legal Litigator (Trevor Henry) moved first over with Hypnotic Blue Chip (Jody Jamieson) following his cover and going three-deep down the backstretch, but Won The West pulled the pocket before the 1:23.3 third quarter and battled with his stablemate, eventually wearing him down right before hitting the wire in 1:52. Foiled Again missed by just a head and a hard-closing Stonebridge Terror (Doug McNair) finished a half length behind in third.

“He went into the gate real aggressive the first time,” said Miller, the winningest driver of the new millennium, when asked about the recall. “He was the one that caused the recall and I got him settled back down and he went into the gate not quite as bad but I was ready for him the second time.

“I figured that Yannick [Gingras and Foiled Again] would get to the lead somewhere and he’d be the horse I’d have to chase down. It actually worked that way better than I thought. I ended up in the two-hole and never had to move until the backstretch. The trip worked out good for him.”

Miller estimated the track was off at least a second from the rain, which fell hard earlier on the program. “Definitely it was faster last week.”

Won The West paid $3.40 to win as the 3-5 popular choice and is the first favourite to win the Molson Pace since Ponder took the 2005 edition.

Trained by Ron Burke, Won The West has won three of his five starts this season and has yet to finish off the board earning $244,840 for the Strollin Stable of Marion, William Robinson and James Koehler of Findlay, Ohio. The six-year-old gelded son of Western Hanover-Gabrielle is a career winner of 29 races and $2,361,836. He was the richest starter in tonight’s field of premier older pacing horses.

“It’s a once and a lifetime [experience],” said Koehler of owning the double millionaire. “They don’t come along very often and we’re very fortunate. I’ve been in it 48 years.

"We’re always afraid of him [Foiled Again]," added Koehler. "We can handle him in the straightaways but he’s tough in the turns.”

Last year’s Molson Pace was a nightmare for the Burke Racing Stable, but tonight it was a dream come true as Burke entrants finished first and second. In the 2009 edition, the Burke barn saw their iron horse Maltese Artist suffer a catastrophic leg injury in his elimination, which led to him being euthanized shortly after the race. Their other entrant, Foiled Again, went off as the favourite but finished fifth in the final.

Friday night's card produced significant action at the betting windows. A total of $325,305 was bet on the 13-race card, which easily bested last year’s Molson Pace program where $274,000 was wagered.

A great crowd was on hand to watch the stakes laden card, which also featured an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold final and four City Of London Series finals. A total of $75,000 was bet on the Molson Pace alone, which is a record for the race that was celebrating its 38th edition.

Tonight’s card concluded the Spring Meet at the London, Ontario half-mile track. Racing will return for three days, September 13, 14 and 15 as an experiment during the annual Western Fair to expose new fans to harness racing. The Fall/Winter meet will begin on October 15.

To view Friday's results, click here.

(With files from Western Fair Raceway)


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