Ocean Downs Meet Wrap

Published: August 27, 2008 11:58 am EDT

The 60th Anniversary live racing meet concluded Sunday, August 24 at Ocean Downs.

"We had some nice races," Ocean Downs general manager Peter Szymanski said. "We had the Maryland Fund races where we saw some fine two and three year-olds. Then we had the Chesapeake Bay Series where we had four year-olds and up. We had a '52' mile (1:52.3, Armbro David). Then we saw the late closers through the end of the meet, which filled pretty well. We saw some nice action including horses like Concertino, Hard Head and Mr Love Joy."

Three year-old colt Concertino was named Trotter of the Meet for his four-for-four sweep of the Alan Myer Memorial late closer trotting series, which concluded August 21. Ten-year-old Mr Love Joy and four-year-old Hard Head each had six wins during the forty-day meet and the geldings were honoured as Co-Pacers of the Meet.

Mr Love Joy, a son of Life Sign, is owned by Christopher Devine of Hanover, Maryland and trained by Mike Hall. The veteran pacer came to the ocean following a productive meet at Freehold Raceway in New Jersey. His first win this summer was June 21 with George Napolitano in the bike. John Wagner had the reigns for his August 6 victory when he matched his previous fastest winning time this summer with a 1:57.2 mile. Eric Ledford, the meet's leading driver, was the pilot for the gelding's other four wins. In 28 starts this year, Mr Love Joy has finished first 15 times.

Hard Head, by Nuclear High from Bess Bet by Happy Affair, is owned by Scott Collier from Crofton, Maryland and was trained and driven by Mark Gray. Hard Head had not won this year before starting at the ocean June 21 after moving from Rosecroft. "He's really come on during this meet," Gray, who was the meet's second leading driver with 39 wins said. In addition, Gray tied with William Long and Manley Brown, Jr. as the second leading trainer with 13 wins.

The three-year-old trotting colt Concertino, by Tejano, moved to Ocean Downs from Rosecroft Raceway. It was at the Fort Washington, Maryland track that trainer William Long drove the colt to a first-place finish in the $40,000 final of the Md. Sire Stakes June 28. Long, who broke his hip in a December, 2006 fall through a barn roof, has come back and also driven Concertino to wins in each of the four legs of the Alan Myer Memorial Series, which began July 31 at the ocean. "He's a real pleasure to drive. He's a smart colt and he's real easy to handle," Long, the Ocean Downs driving champion from 1988 through 1997 (984 wins), said. Concertino has won 7 of his 13 starts in 2008 for owner Howard Hammond of Salisbury, Maryland.

The leading driver for the summer was Eric Ledford with 59 wins. Ledford was the driver of the 2002 Hambletonian winner Chip Chip Hooray and came to Ocean Downs in late June with nearly 3,800 career wins. He drove on 30 of the meet's 40 night cards and had a number of impressive nights. Ledford posted five wins July 16, four wins July 2 and 5 and August 2. Ledford also posted driving doubles July 3, August 10 and 17. "I enjoyed driving here this summer," Ledford said.

Earning his second Trainer of the Meet honour was Michael Hall, whose trainees won 17 of only 32 (53.1%) starts at the ocean. Hall, who resides in Frankford, Delaware was the 2006 leading trainer with 19 wins. "I've been really lucky. I've got really good owners and they bought really good horses," Hall said.

In addition to Mr Love Joy, Hall also trained Boots Place who swept the Micelob Light Pace stakes series with three consecutive wins. Alice's Restaurant, a three-year-old filly trained by Hall, was two-for-two in the Austin Thomas Memorial late closer series. Eric Ledford drove 13 of Hall's 17 winners.

Ocean Downs continued to draw well in 2008, averaging 1,811 per night during the 40-day summer meet.

(With files from Ocean Downs)

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