The Minnesota Night of Champions program was conducted at Running Aces on Saturday night (Sept. 15) with eleven championship races going for a record $362,500 in purses and an additional $15,200 in overnights for a total of $377,700 - the richest harness racing card in state history.
Among the Championship victors was Boom Boom Shaboom, a seven-year-old pacing mare by General Aidid who was making her final career start before retiring to become a broodmare. She had become a fan favourite over the last few years, campaigning in races all the way up to the top level at Running Aces with many appearances in the Mares Open Pace during the past two seasons.
Boomboom Shaboom drew post six for the $20,000 Aged Pacing Mares Championship, coming in fresh off a sharp 1:54.2 effort in a mares conditioned pace last out. Trainer-driver Brady Jenson seized the opportunity to grab the lead right off the gate - surging to command in the first few strides. Jenson controlled the affair through fractions of :28.2 :58.1 and 1:27 while saving enough in the tank to sprint home and seal the victory by a half length over fast-closing rivals Swinging Again and Placen First. The 1:55 Championship win was the 36th career for Boom Boom Shaboom and rounded her final purse tally up to $132,520 for owners Brian and Kim Larson of Canton, South Dakota. Timothy Lems was the winning breeder. She paid $24.60 to win.
Burning Blaze turned in a gate-to-wire performance in the $40,000 Two-Year-Old Colts & Geldings Championship Pace from post three with driver Steve Wiseman in the sulky.
Burning Blaze was well in hand through a moderate early pace of :28.1 and :58.3 but turned on the turbo charge to three-quarters, timed in 1:27, and accelerated home to best Stay Humble N Kind and Sb Bodacious by three-and-a-half lengths. Winning his seventh race in nine starts, Burning Blaze, a son of Wind Me Up, is owned by his breeders Alan and Cheryl Sandbulte along with Edward Gutin and trained by Justin Anfinson. He paid $2.10 to win.
Dream Chasin became a back-to-back Champion by capturing the $35,000 Three-Year-Old Colts & Geldings Pace in 1:55 with driver Nick Roland.
Roland sent Dream Chasin quickly off the gate from post nine and swept to the lead, controlled the pace and was never in doubt with a one-length victory over deep-closer Watchmeneighneigh and Ridonkuloso was home in third. Dream Chasin, paying $33.00 to win, was the two-year-old champion pacer last season also with Roland in the bike. The big win tonight was No. six on the season and ninth career tally for the son of Fancy Schmancy who has now bankrolled $81,415 for Owners and Breeders Michelle and Gregory Budach who also trains.
Full-Sisters Al Mar Reba Babe (Dean Magee) and Al Mar Bon Bon finished one-two and were separated by just a whisker at the line in the $25,000 Aged Trot Championship. The two daughters of Sos Lunar Eclipse out of Golden Victory by Valley Victor hit the line in a 1:56.3 photo. Al Mar Reba Babe ($6.40) got the victory by the slimmest of margins for her third win in 18 starts this year and 11th career tally, pushing her lifetime bankroll to $105,619 for owner-trainer Richard Davis. Al Mar Bon Bon is owned by Cara Hauser and trained by Alexia Kehl.
The other Championship winners were as follows:
$27,500 3 Year Old Filly Trot, Twilight Tinker (Rick Magee) for owner Cathy Dessert, trainer Nick Roland, time 2:04.1
$35,000 3 Year Old Colt Trot, Bekkums Royal Duty (Dean Magee) for owner Sarah Bekkum, trainer David Ginter, time 1:59
$40,000 2 Year Old Colt Trot, MD Magic (Dean Magee) for owner Set The Pace Racing, trainer Nick Roland, time 2:00
$40,000 2 Year Old Filly Pace, Windmeupnwatchmego (Dean Magee) for owner Richard Davelaar, trainer Gordon Graham, time 1:57.2
$35,000 2 Year Old Filly Trot, Mimi Marguerite (James Yoder) Jeanne Marquis and Jesse De Long, trainer Justin Anfinson, time 1:58.3
$35,000 3 Year Old Filly Pace, Im On A Terror (James Yoder) Brian Anfinson and Jesse De Long, trainer Justin Anfinson, time 1:55
$20,000 Aged Horses & Geldings Pace, Stuckey Dote (Rick Magee) for owner Merlin Van Oterloo, trainer Brett Ballinger, time 1:53.2
Driver Dean Magee had four Championship wins on the program, with James (J.D.) Yoder picking up two Championships and three wins overall.
Trainer Justin Anfinson had three Championship wins with Nick Roland picking up two Championships on the night.
Driver Steve Wiseman and his wife Trainer Kathleen Plested-Wiseman were crowned as the 2018 Leading Driver and Leading Trainer at Running Aces. Steve picked up two wins on the closing night program to bring his final win tally to 105, his best Running Aces season to date.
Steve had a final advantage of 16 wins over Dean Magee who was very impressive in the last six weeks of the meet pulling to within seven or eight wins of the lead with about three weeks to go. Magee landed at 89 wins for the season.
Kathleen was well ahead of all trainers throughout the season and pulled away from the field in the final month of racing, picking up one win on closing night for an impressive total of 68 wins for the meet, 33 wins ahead of both Gerald Longo and Justin Anfinson. For both husband Steve and wife Kathleen, it was back-to-back Championships at Running Aces. Daughter Tyler Wiseman was also in the winner's circle to help celebrate the fantastic season for the Wiseman stable.
The $100,000-guaranteed 20-cent Pick-5 wager on closing night marked a record for the largest guarantee in track history and produced the largest gross pool in the history of the Running Aces' Pick-5. It also contributed to the best Saturday handle in the history of the track.
Running Aces wishes to thank all of its loyal fans, staff and horsemen for another successful and record-setting season. Special thanks go out to Xpressbet for the Night of Champions promotional sponsorship as well as NAHUpicks.com and Harness Racing Replays for season long partnerships as well. Simulcast Racing is offered year-round at Running Aces as well as Casino action 365 days a year. Check www.RunAces.com for news and upcoming events. Information about the next/upcoming season of live racing is typically posted around February or March of each year.