One-hundred and eleven Minnesota-sired horses were entered and have been drawn to contest a total of 14 races for Running Aces’ 2019 Night of Champions program, which will take place this Saturday (Sept. 14).
The number of horses entered and drawn is a testament to the continued growth of the Minnesota’s harness racing industry. The total purses for the Night of Champions card is $543,500, which is a record amount, by a large margin, and also indicates the success of Minnesota harness racing and the success of Running Aces as a growing, multi-faceted casino, racing and entertainment destination.
Heading up the Night of Champions program is MD Magic, who was the dominant two-year-old male trotter in Minnesota last season who set a record for single-season earnings in the statebred program ($70,300). MD Magic (Post 3 in his final) has a big chance to re-write that record again this year, as he heads into Saturday night’s program with 2019 earnings of $62,550 and will be the favourite to win his $40,000 championship race. MD Magic is owned by Set The Pace Racing, LLC and is trained and driven by Nick Roland. He has been posted as the 6-5 morning line favourite.
The $40,000 Minnesota-sired three-year-old colts and geldings pace will feature eight talented starters. The 2018 Minnesota Horse of The Year, Burning Blaze, headlines the race, and is scheduled to be driven by Steve Wiseman. Burning Blaze will be in search of his second consecutive championship title. Burning Blaze comes into this year’s event with 11 wins from 22 career starts and $97,220 in purse earnings. He is the 2-1 morning line favorite from Post 3. Also among the favourites in the eight-horse field will be SB Bodacious, who has been set at 5-2 on the morning line from Post 4 for trainer/driver Rick Magee. SB Bodacious leads the division in seasonal earnings ($46,311) and is coming in fresh off of a recent 1:55.1 win. He also has the fastest winning mile of the year in the group (1:52.2).
The $40,000 three-year-old filly pace will feature nine starters and is headlined by last year’s two-year-old champion filly, Windmeupnwatchmego (PP3, Dean Magee). Windmeupnwatchmego sports six wins from nine outings this year, and 12 career wins from just 17 starts. She is the 5-2 favourite on the morning line. Her chief rival in the group is Sweet Vivian (PP1, Mooney Svendsen). Sweet Vivian has won three races this year and has hit the board in 12 of her 17 seasonal races. She has been listed at 3-1.
The $50,000 two-year-old filly trot will feature a field of nine, which will include the current track record holders in the category (Susies Sister and SB Madam Secretary). Susies Sister (to be driven by Don Harmon) has been installed as the 8-5 early favourite from Post 1, and co-record holder SB Madam Secretary (Darrell Wright) has been billed as the 3-1 second choice from Post 8.
The $50,000 two-year-old colts and geldings pace is headlined by the very sharp freshman Bunkerhill Phil. He has dominated the division for most of the year and has recorded nine wins from 12 starts at Running Aces to claim the title of the winningest horse of the season. Bunkerhill Phil is driven by Don Harmon, and has been installed as the 6-5 favourite from Post 3 in the nine-horse field.
The $40,000 four-year-olds & up pace promises to be an exciting contest. Last year’s champion Stuckey Dote (PP7, Rick Magee) is back at Running Aces and in top form to defend his title. Whatchyastarinat (PP1, Don Harmon) is poised for battle after a huge effort in the Open Pace on Sunday night, where he finished a close second in the fastest mile ever at Running Aces (1:50.1). Stuckey Dote is the 9-5 favourite on the morning line, while Whatchyastarinat has been installed as second choice at 5-2.
The other championship events promise to be exciting contests, as well. The overall card of races is by far the best and most competitive group of horses Running Aces has ever seen on finals night, and the track is excited to see the races unfold.
The 20-cent Pick-5 wager will comprise the last five races of the night and will feature full competitive fields and a $20,000 guaranteed pool (including a carryover of $8,139.20). Last year’s Night of Champions Pick-5 pool exceeded $50,000. There will be mandatory payouts in all pools on Saturday night.
The entire Night of Champions card will be broadcast live from the track apron; with track announcer Darin Gagne and special guests Rod Allums Jr, Mike Pribozie, and Ray Cotolo of NAHUpicks.com, as well as Ken Terpenning from Harness Racing Replays 2.0. In addition to traditional race analysis and handicapping, the team will provide additional content such as interviews and biographical information.
Fans will have many chances to win prizes during the program, with losing ticket drawings being held between races from the broadcast table. Prizes will range from hats to Running Aces gifts and promotional items, to dining certificates and betting vouchers.
Post time for the 12-race betting card will be at 6 p.m. (Central). Two undercard (non-wagering) races will get underway at 5:10 p.m.
(With files from Running Aces)