Up Front Kellie Jo and Sean Bier used a soft early half to help win Friday night’s $16,500 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace at Tioga Downs.
Leaving from post position number three, Bier eased Up Front Kellie Jo out of the gate and then took control of the field past the opening quarter in :27.2. Runaway Tray and Jim Taggart Jr. settled in second as Up Front Kellie Jo caught a :30-second breather to reach the half in :57.2.
As the field headed down the backside towards three-quarters, Taggart pulled Runaway Tray from the two-hole trying to catch Bier off guard, but the duo fought back and stayed in the lead at the three-quarter mile mark of the race in 1:24.4. Around the final turn, the pressure from Runaway Tray continued and the duo was joined by Smoke Pan Mirrors (Fern Paquet Jr.), but at the wire it was a gritty Up Front Kellie Jo in 1:53.3. Runaway Tray held tough for second, while Smoke Pan Mirrors was third.
The win sent Up Front Kellie Jo over the $100,000 earnings mark on the year in her sixth seasonal victory for trainer Mark Ford, who co-owns with C. Ed Mullinax.
(With files from Tioga Downs)