Royal Heart not only won the Open Pace for the first time at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Saturday night, but he did it in record fashion.
The Jose Godinez-trained four-year-old made his debut in the local Open and was dismissed at odds of 6-1 with leading driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. in the sulky.
The pace was set by the race’s favourite, JK Panache (Jim Devaux), who sizzled through lap one fractions of :26.3 and :54.2 and didn’t have the weapons to dismiss the challenge from Royal Heart. That one surged past the leader approaching the 1:22.2 three-quarter pole before drawing away to win in 1:50.
Not only was the win time a track record for a four-year-old pacer, but it served as the fastest mile of the year at Saratoga and third fastest in track history.
Burkentine Hanover (Stephane Bouchard) hit the board for the fifth straight time in the local feature as the runner-up to Royal Heart on Saturday night while JK Panache had to settle for third.
Royal Heart paid $15.20 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $78 and $277.50, respectively.
The Royal Art gelding is owned by Blindswitch Racing Stable and Dolne Farm Services LLC.
(With files from Saratoga Raceway)