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Bigtown Hero Wins Ewart Memorial

Published: September 27, 2014 11:14 pm ET

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Bigtown Hero rallied wide around the final turn and kicked home to win the $200,000 Jim Ewart Memorial Invitational Pace on Ohio Super Night, the richest night of Standardbred racing in the state, Saturday at Scioto Downs Racino.

Driven by Dave Palone, Bigtown Hero equalled the track record for aged pacing geldings as he hit the wire in 1:48.2. The six-year-old American Ideal gelding is trained by Ron Steck and owned by Allard Racing Inc. of Saint-Esprit, Que. and Yves Sarrazin of La Presentation, Que.

There was a three-horse battle for the lead off the gate with Night Pro (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) overtaking Kanaris (Aaron Merriman) and the parked Bolt The Duer (Mike Wilder) eventually taking back into third position. Night Pro hit the opening panel in a sizzling :25.3.

As Bolt The Duer dropped into the three-hole, harness racing's richest pacer Foiled Again (Matt Kakaley) pulled out from fourth and went on the attack. He advanced up alongside Night Pro as they raced to the half in :53.1, but was unable to clear.

Night Pro shook off his challenger by the three-quarters mark in 1:20.4 with the backfield fanning wide. Sweet Lou (Ron Pierce) moved up and rallied around his stablemate with Bigtown Hero following that move. Meanwhile, Kanaris pulled the pocket and then went by the pacesetter in the stretch. However, the oncoming Bigtown Hero overtook him late in the mile and drew one length clear for his 10th win of the season.

Bigtown Hero paid $14.40 to win as the 6-1 third choice in the field. Kanaris finished second and Night Pro was third.

Picking up the catch-drive on Bigtown Hero, Palone knew his mount was on top of his game. He entered the race fresh off a 1:47.3 world record mile for aged pacing geldings on a five-eighth-mile oval at Pocono Downs.

"I did get to watch his last race where he went some ridiculous fractions and went a good mile in 1:47 and they informed me that he was hitting the bike that night so I thought if I could keep him quiet and maybe spare us one move, and it just worked out perfect, they just kept moving," said Palone. "...Anytime you get a chance to follow Sweet Lou you have to so it worked out great.

"Going into the last turn I had two handfuls and whenever I removed the plugs I just thought he was home from there."

Bigtown Hero earned his third win in a row and 25th lifetime while boosting his bankroll to $291,104.

In the $75,000 Sam "Chip" Noble III Memorial Open Trot, Verlin Yoder's Natural Herbie surged home late off stalled cover and defeated the favoured closer Creatine and Dan Noble by half a length in 1:53, equalling the track record for four-year-old trotting geldings. Pocket-sitter Major Athens (Ron Pierce) closed up the passing lane and edged by Uncle Peter (Dave Palone), who had led through fractions of :26.4, :56 and 1:24.2 before being overtaken in deep stretch.

Driven by Ron Pierce for trainer Ron Burke, favourite Easy Again rebuffed Santa Fe Beachboy (Josh Sutton) as he raced on top through fractions of :26.3, :54.3 and 1:22 en route to a 1:50.4 triumph in the $50,000 Ryder "Storm Boy" Steck Memorial Open Pace. Pocket-sitter Carols Comet (Aaron Merriman) finished second and Lucky Lime (Chris Page) rallied home for third.

Pierce also drove Rene Allard trainee Yagonnakissmeornot to victory lane for the Ewart winning connections and partner Kapildeo Singh in the $50,000 Eldorado Resorts Fillies & Mares Open. The favourite protected her rail position through a blazing :25.3 opening panel and then retook the lead after eventual runner-up Sectionline Yankee (Greg Grismore) cleared in front of the grandstand. Yagonnakissmeornot was back on top by the :53.2 half-mile mark and raced past three-quarters in 1:22. She opened up four and a half lengths down the stretch and reached the wire in a new track record for female pacers of 1:49.4. Igottafeelinfran (Dan Noble) finished third.

Earlier on the card, eight new Ohio champions were crowned in the $200,000 Sires Stakes Finals. Burke swept the three-year-old male divisions with trotting gelding Ladys Dude setting a track record of 1:53.4 winning by a neck over Rompaway Galaxy in rein to Josh Sutton and pacing gelding Dibs upsetting the favourites in a three-across finish at odds of 17-1 in 1:53.2 with Pierce aboard.

Driver Chris Page also doubled up in the championships as two-year-old trotting filly Sunrise Nibbles, owned in part by Synerco Ventures Inc. of Toronto, held on by a nose to win her final in 1:58.4 for trainer Chris Beaver and three-year-old pacing filly Crown Time Keeper prevailed in 1:55.2 for trainer Steve Carter.

Two-year-old trotting colt Neelys Messenger earned his seventh straight win, taking his final in 1:58.2 for trainer/driver Marty Wollam while two-year-old pacing filly Friskie Lil Devil, a bridesmaid in her last six starts, ended that streak edging by the previously unbeaten Bell Flower to win by a neck in 1:55 with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. driving for trainer Brian Brown.

The other divisional winners were two-year-old pacing gelding Western Coby and Wyatt Irvine in 1:53.3 for Ron Wagner, and three-year-old trotting filly Turbochargedroxie and Dan Noble in 1:55.3 for Danny Collins.

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