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More Merton Mastery At Plainridge Park

Published: August 17, 2017 8:07 pm ET

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Although there were two Open Handicap trots on the Thursday afternoon card at Plainridge Park, the best performance of the day came from a mid-level conditioned contest. And the one constant no matter what race was run; Greg Merton remains on fire.

In the first $15,000 Open trot, Seeking Steven moved up in class for the third week in a row yet extended his winning streak, all while being let go at 11-1 by the bettors.

Guiltywithanexcuse (Jim Hardy) was cutting the mile with little resistance until Black Broadway (Greg Merton) pulled at the half, bringing Seeking Steven (Chris Long) and Bloodstockshalltab (Jim Whittemore) with him. After the two tiers tripped the three-quarters in 1:26.1, Seeking Steven tipped three-wide at the top of the far turn and with Long bouncing up and down like he was sitting on a spring, Seeking Steven flew down the lane and held off a fast-closing Bloodstockshalltab to win by a neck in 1:56.1.

It was the third straight win for Seeking Steven ($22.20), two of which were at Plainridge Park. The five-year-old son of Muscle Mass is owned by Arthur Mergenhagen and is trained by Dan Hennessey.

In the co-featured $14,000 Open trot, Buff executed a personal best effort while easily putting away his six competitors.

Buff (Greg Merton) got away second behind Dial A Chic (Joe DiStephano) and their positions remained stagnant through quarters timed in :26.4, :56.2 and 1:25.2. At that point Buff pulled and trotted alongside the fading leader through the turn. By the time they hit the head of the stretch, Buff had opened up a three-length advantage and with no serious bids behind him, trotted home a winner in 1:54.4.

Buff ($4.20) scored his eighth win of the season and the 1:54.4 time also gave him a new lifetime mark. He has now earned $54,901 in 2017 for his owners Bill Reepmeyer, the Jackie Rousse Stable LLC, Frank Witz and Jill Witz. The winner is trained by Jackie Greene.

But the fastest trot of the day came in the first race where early-season Plainridge Open winner Tag Up And Go dropped in class and toyed with the field, getting him closer to his third $100,000+ earnings year.

Tag Up And Go (Greg Merton) sat a loose third while Tuscanelle (Jim Hardy) took the race to the half in a speedy :55.4. Merton sat and waited until the five-eighths pole when he yanked the right line and put his horse in gear. Tag Up And Go trotted around Maximus Deo (Pat Curtain) and then drew alongside Tuscanelle and those two drew off around the last turn. But when they hit the straight, Tag Up And Go got up and went; down the lane with Merton sitting stoic, to a very impressive five-length win in 1:53.4.

It was the sixth win of the year for Tag Up And Go ($2.40) and a new seasonal mark. The win pushed his bank for the year to $79,660 for owners Lester Gelardi, Jr. and Anthony Passafaro. Monique Cohen trains Tag Up And Go.

Driver Greg Merton keeps rolling merrily along at The Ridge as he chalked-up another six-win afternoon. There were smiles all around as the following horses had their pictures taken with “Mass-Merton”: Tag Up And Go (1:53.4, $2.40), Olivias Z Tam (1:53.3, $3.20), Fire N Diamonds (1:55, $7.00), Well Wishers (1:54.2, $5.60), Buff (1:54.4, $4.20) and Paparazzi Prince (1:54, $8.80)

Merton now has 140 wins for the meet, more than double the number of his nearest competitor. He also continues to perform at an extremely high level in every driving category including a .450 UDR, 31% win and 61% in the money percentages.

Not to be overlooked in the day’s proceedings, Chris Long had a driving double while conditioners Monique Cohen and Jackie Greene each sent two students to the winner’s enclosure.

Live racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday afternoon with post time set for 4 p.m.

(Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts)

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