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Mister Big Stands Tallest in Haughton

Published: July 12, 2008 4:00 pm ET

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It was a battle to the wire in a contest of titans with Mister Big edging out Artistic Fella in the $600,000 William R. Haughton Final, the eighth race on Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

Mister Big [$3.60, $2.20, $2.10] was first up and at the neck of the pacesetting Artistic Fella [3.20, $2.40] as the field hit the top of the stretch. The pair dueled down the stretch with Mister Big, driven by Brian Sears, getting up at the wire to win by a head.

The mile was clocked in 1:49 flat off of fractions of 26.3, 53.2 and 1:21.2.

Silent Swing and Paul MacDonell [$5.40] rallied for third, finishing a half-length back.

Mister Big - Haughton Final

Mister Big, last year's Older Pacer of the Year in 2007, also won the Haughton Final in 2007.

"It was a battle," conceded winning driver Brian Sears. "I know he likes to close. I had a few scenarios about the race, but him crossing right over was not the best plan that I had in my mind of what I thought of happening."

In a field chock full of millionaires and stakes winners, the race turned into a rematch between rivals Artistic Fella and Mister Big. Artistic Fella prevailed in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Final at Chester on June 15 while Mister Big took their Haughton elim last week.

The battle in the stretch did not surprise Sears.

"I'm thinking it was me and Artistic Fella," he said. "I knew he was the horse I had to fear and that's what it came down to. They're going to be hooking up a lot this year, and it should be interesting."

The victory pushed Mister Big's lifetime earnings to $2,289,213 with a record of 22 wins, 16 seconds and six thirds from 60 starts.

The five-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear - Worlds Sweetheart, racing for Joseph Muscara of Huntingdon Valley, PA, has four wins and two seconds in six starts this year.

"I was a little scared," said trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. "That was probably the worst-case scenario I had in my mind -- having Special Report cross over that quick and Artistic Fella make the front. I was hoping there was some other speed that would be in there if we elected to race from off the pace.

"He gets a few weeks off, and we might race him once prior to [defending his title in the US Pacing Championship on August 2]," Morgan added. "We'll see how he comes out of this. He'll definitely get a week off. We might wait until the US Pacing Championship to race him."

To view the lines from the Meadowlands' Saturday card, click here.


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