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Field Set For J.A. Ferguson Final

Published: July 11, 2020 5:44 pm ET

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The final of the 2020 J.A. Ferguson Memorial Series is setting up to be an excellent race with eight of the top older pacers in Nova Scotia set to compete after Saturday's pair of eliminations at Northside Downs.

Intended Royalty was expected to be the horse to beat in the first $1,500 elimination but that expectation changed as the even-money choice rolled offstride before the start of the race. Driver Ryan Campbell was able to get Intended Royalty back on the pace but the pair spotted the field more than six lengths when the wings of the gate folded.

Wildcat Jet (Mark Pezzarello) cleared to the lead and fronted the field through the :29.1 opening panel. Intended Royalty caught the field by the first quarter but was fifth and last turning for home for the first time. Sensing a slowing tempo, the back four horses in the field all tipped to the outer flow through the :59.2 half, with Campbell angling Intended Royalty back to the rail as first-over Southwind Ricardo (Harold Leblanc) pushed a neck in front of Wildcat Jet. Those two would battle through the third quarter, with Intended Royalty skimming up the rail as the third station was reached in 1:29.1 with Buttons (Gerard Kennedy) three-wide and Indywheelbarrow (Shawn Lynk) following that cover. As the outer flow couldn't gain, Intended Royalty and Campbell found room up the rail turning for home and outkicked Wildcat Jet home to win by a nose in 1:59. Southwind Ricardo and Indywheelbarrow also advance to next week's Ferguson Final.

Randy Copley trains and co-owns Intended Royalty (No Pan Intended - Renees Queen) along with Edward Copley of Inverness, N.S. Now nine, Intended Royalty sports 37 lifetime wins with more than $116,000 in career earnings.

Unlike the first elimination, the second elimination was much less in doubt as Harold Leblanc guided the red-hot Runaway Mystery to a wire-to-wire win in 2:00 over Accelerator (Greg Sparling), Makes Me Stupid (Kennedy) and Eastview Dexter (Pezzarello). Last year's Ferguson winner Nikes Cowgirl made a break at the start of the race was never in contention.

Leblanc trains and co-owns six-year-old Runaway Mystery (Mister Big - Phoenix Arcane) along with Gus Burns of New Waterford, N.S. With four wins in five seasonal starts, Runaway Mystery has positioned himself as one of the favourites in next Saturday's $3,000 J.A. Ferguson Memorial Final.

Kevin Bailey held the hot hands on the Saturday card, sending out three winners from his stable -- Im A Sumbunnie in the sixth, The Good Wife in the seventh and Logans Wish in the ninth. On the day, his five starters amassed a solid 3-1-1 summary.

To view the results from Northside's Saturday card, click the following link: Saturday Results - Northside Downs.

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