Driver Jim Marino returned to the winner's circle on Sunday afternoon at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino for the first time since being involved in a racing accident early this year.
In the afternoon's fourth race, Marino settled away sixth with the 3-2 favourite Pit Ranch Brew through the first half before tipping into the outer flow and rallying home to score the victory in 2:02. Meadowlark Mr Bert closed late from the back of the pack to finish second over Abernacky Hanover.
The race wasn't a stakes event or the afternoon's feature, but winning the $4,000 maiden claiming race with sophomore colt Pit Ranch Brew was a special moment for the horseman, who was sidelined for five months with injuries from a racing accident. Marino had sustained ligament injuries in his left knee, a broken femur bone and broken bones in his left wrist in the January 23 accident at Fraser Downs.
"Pit Rand Brew's win today felt great especially because of the connections behind the horse," Marino told Trot Insider. "Both co-owner Randy Rutledge and trainer Justin Currie helped out with my barn while I was hurt."
In addition to assistance with his own stable, Marino received support from the harness racing industry as family, friends and colleagues came together to organize numerous fundraising activities while he could not drive.
"I'd also like to thank everyone who helped me along the way to getting back in the bike," said Marino.
The Surrey, B.C. horseman made his return to the sulky on June 23 at the new Century Downs oval and has been slowly getting back to his regular routine. He says he is now ready to take on full-time driving duties again.
"At first I took it slow with only a drive or two per race day, but now I'm ready to get back driving as many as I get listed on," said the career winner of 1,884 races.
Sunday's feature race was the $11,500 Open Handicap Pace with Who Doesnt back in action after a two week break and circling the five-horse field in the final half-mile to win in 1:54.2 for trainer/driver Travis Cullen. Recent Open winners Ghost Pine and Sotally Tober rounded out the top three finishers. The win was the second on the card for the Cullen stable, following his training triple on Saturday afternoon.
To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Century Downs.