Scioto Downs and Mohawk offers stakes

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Ted Black

September 10th, 2017

Saturday evening many of harness racing's best three-year-olds of both gaits and genders were on display at Scioto Downs in Ohio and Mohawk Raceway in Canada preparing to invade another small town in Ohio later this month while older horses at Scioto Downs and Yonkers Raceway tuned up for a trip to Harrington Raceway in Delaware.

While the sport's top rated horse of any age or either gait or gender, Fear The Dragon, had the week off, the second rated horse in the latest Hambletonian Society National Top 10 poll, Ariana G (Yannick Gingras), delivered another emphatic score when she grinded her way to command just by the three-quarter mark and romped home five lengths clear in 1:53.2 in the first of two eliminations for the Elegant Image for three-year-old filly trotters.

Ariana G, a sophomore daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter, has won two straight and eight of 10 starts overall this year and pushed her earnings past $640,000. She seems unlikely to overhaul idle Fear The Dragon for the top spot in the poll, but Ariana G appears to be a cinch to win another division title and she will be among the serious contenders for trotter of the year and potentially horse of the year.

Two races later on the card, Art Scene (Scott Zeron) delivered a powerful performance when he crushed his rivals in the $160,00 Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. A sophomore son of American Ideal who had been a close second to Downbytheseaside in the $500,000 Messenger Stakes one week earlier at Yonkers, Art Scene recorded his third win in 13 starts this year and pushed his seasonal earnings past $250,000 while lowering his lifetime mark to 1:49.4 in the process.

Then one race later on the card, Dream Together (Daniel Dube) benefited from patient handling and an ideal trip to overhaul Feed Your Head (Gingras) to capture the second $35,000 Elegant Image elimination for three-year-old filly trotters. A daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Luc Blais, Dream Together notched her second win from eight starts and banked $130,000 by overhauling the lesser Takter trainee. Her task in the Elegant Image final will be considerably tougher next weekend when she faces Ariana G.

In Saturday's feature at Scioto Downs was the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial for aged pacers, McWicked (Brian Sears) benefited from a third over journey and wore down Rockin Ron (Matt Kakaley) along the inside to prevail by a neck in 1:49.3. Unlucky in each of his last two outings at Mohawk in the Canadian Pacing Derby final and elim, McWicked got into the flow before the half and avoided any serious traffic trouble to notch his seventh win from 21 starts this year and push his career earnings past $2.1 million.

Two races earlier on the card, Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears) lived up to his role as the 1-9 favorite in the $125,000 Jug Preview when he quarter moved to command and led throughout to score by two lengths in 1:51. A sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Brain Brown, who also conditions Fear The Dragon, Downbytheseaside notched his fourth straight win and now owns a 9-1-2 slate and just over $1 million from 13 starts this year.

One race earlier on the card, K Ryan Bluechip (Simon Allard) delivered a sharp performance to score by two lengths in 1:50.3 in the $25,000 Open I for aged pacers. A five-year-old Art Major gelding trained by Virgil Morgan, Jr., K Ryan Bluechip had finished third behind Lady Shadow in the Open I Hcp the week before following a long, first over journey. But Saturday night he rebounded with a sharp score and now boasts a 9-6-2 slate and $125,000 banked from 26 starts this year.

That same evening at Yonkers Raceway, Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) lived up to his billing as the 4-5 favorite in the $50,000 Open Handicap when he easily gained command from post six, forced Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett) to find a seat in the pocket before a 26.4 opener, got a breather to the half in 56.4, kept Polak A (George Brennan) at bay down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:25.1 then edged clear in the lane to a two-length score in 1:52.3.

An eight-ear-old Bettor's Delight stallion trained by Peter Tritton for the late Harry Von Knoblauch, Bit Of A Legend N now sports a 6-4-3 slate and $410,000 banked from 20 starts this year and recorded his 39th win from 111 starts and pushed his lifetime earnings toward $1.8 million. He already boasts wins in the Molson Pace and Gerrity Memorial and will likely be looking to enhance his resume and bankroll next week in the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington.

One race earlier on the card, Always At My Place (George Brennan) delivered a sharp performance to prevail by two lengths in 1:51.3 in the winners over last five starts class. A six-year-old Always A Virgin gelding trained by Burke, Always At My Place notched his second straight score and fourth win in his last six tries and sports a 7-3-2 slate and $115,000 banked from 19 seasonal outings. Always At My Place now owns a 34-18-11, $690,000 banked and 1:47.2 mark from 96 career tries and at times looks like the best of the Burke brigade.