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Five For Gray At Plainridge

Published: July 1, 2019 8:51 pm ET

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Plainridge top driver Shawn Gray has been on a roll of late after Mitchell Cushing tied him for the dash driving lead over a week ago. Since then he's opened up a six-win gap and on Monday afternoon he put an exclamation mark on it with five more wins, including victories in the day’s top two classes at Plainridge Park.

In the $14,000 Winners-Over Handicap pace, Gray and Sir Pugsley got their revenge over Mach Doro A who got up to beat him in late strides last week in the feature race at The Ridge. This week he was able to hold off a similar rush at the wire to claim the victory.

Sir Pugsley grabbed the lead past the eighth pole and settled down to the pylons with a two-length advantage at the quarter in :27. Pacing smartly passed the stands, Sir Pugsley’s first challenge courtesy off Tisadream N (Drew Monti) who came first up to engage the leader at the half in :55.3.

Maintaining a constant three-quarter-length lead, Sir Pugsley held Tisadream N on the rim to the three-quarters in 1:23.3 and then into the final turn. There Opus Blue Chip (Drew Campbell), who had been drafting second-over, tipped three-deep and was followed by Mach Doro A (Ron Cushing) who had been last most of the race. When the group straightened out for home, Mach Doro A looked the fleetest of foot and was barrelling down the center of the track. But Sir Pugsley had the jump and was able to hang on by a nose at the wire and win in 1:51.4 which tied his season’s best effort.

It was the second win in 14 starts this year for Sir Pugsley ($17.20) who has now earned $35,095 for owners Burke Racing Stable and Marc Reynolds.

Earlier in the card Gray scored with Betterlatethannever in the $12,000 upper-level conditioned pace in his first start back in his old barn off a claim.

Betterlatethannever got away fifth from the gate while Lindy Beach (Drew Monti) barked out the fractions on the front. With the race in two rows in a :54.4 half, Warrawee Nonsuch (Mitchell Cushing) was advancing first over up the backside with Betterlatethannever on his back. Positions remained unchanged from there to the top of the stretch where Betterlatethannever tipped three-wide around Warrawee Nonsuch and flew down the stretch under a subtle line drive from Gray to win by two-lengths in 1:51.1, which was a new seasonal mark.

It was the 36th win in only 88 lifetime starts for Betterlatethannever ($4.40) who is owned by Nickerson Racing and David Glazer.

Jimmy Nickerson trains both Sir Puglsey and Betterlatethannever.

Gray rounded out his driving Pentafecta with Lone Survivor (1:53.2, $3.80), Superbowl Party (1:53.3, $14.20) and Hide Me Away (1:54.3, $6.80).

Gray is not only the current leading dash driver at Plainridge Park, he is also the fourth leading percentage driver in North America with a Universal Driver Rating (UDR) of .363.

After Mitchell Cushing added two wins to his total for the meet on Monday as well, Gray remains the meet leader by a nine-win margin of 73 to 64.

Speaking of Pentafectas, Plainridge Park started out the day with a record Pentafecta carryover pool of $21,026 in the sixth race Wicked Hi-5 wager. After there were no winners there, and no winners again in the ninth, the day ended with another record carryover pool of $24,921 which will be available for the Wicked Hi-5 wager in the sixth race on Thursday (July 4) when live racing resumes. Post time for the first race Thursday is 4 p.m.

(Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts)

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