Betterluvnexttime and Pete Wrenn made amends for their second-place finish last time out as they pulled off a sharp front-running effort in the featured $24,000 Fillies & Mares Invitational Handicap Pace at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, May 3.
Betterluvnexttime made a late surge at the wire to notch her 20th career victory.
Leaving from post nine, Wrenn sent Betterluvnexttime to the front as Ricky Macomber Jr. and Montenegro followed suit from post six. Betterluvnexttime won the early battle, reaching the front through a brisk opening panel in :27.1, and continued to call the shots down the backside.
The field of nine remained in single file as they reached the half in a leisurely second split of :56.1. Montenegro continued to benefit from a pocket trip while Winning It and Ed Hensley followed intently in third.
Unable to find a spot along the rail, Gimme A Brake and Sam Widger were pushed to the outer flow as the field reached the final turn. Gran Gabriel and Terry Cullipher were well placed second over as they passed the three-quarter clocking in 1:25.4.
Montenegro exploded from the pocket seat and looked to be home free as the field neared the finish line. Montenegro put a nose in front, but Betterluvnexttime dug in gamely and found a :28.2 final panel to finish a neck in front, stopping the clock in 1:54.1. Montenegro finished second as Gran Gabriel rallied from well off the pace to finish third.
As the heavy betting favourite, Betterluvnexttime returned $3.40 to her backers.
“She raced tough,” Wrenn noted. “We had to work a little to get out of there, but once I had her on the front, she relaxed and did everything I asked of her. She raced well last time out and was just nosed out at the wire, but tonight she was not letting that mare get by her. She fought that all the way to the wire.”
Trained by Al Tomlinson, Betterluvnexttime notched her eighth win of the season in 10 starts. The victory sent her career bankroll over the $240,000 mark for owner Daniel Mitchell of Nova, Michigan. Sired by American Ideal, the five-year-old mare has banked over $50,000 this season.