Tuesday Opener at Rosecroft

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Ted Black

March 9th, 2016

When Rosecroft Raceway kicked off its 2016 spring meet on Tuesday evening, much of the focus was on a pair of races on the latter one-third of the card and a quartet of older pacers raced superbly over the Maryland five-eighths mile oval.

A field of seven pacers went postward in the $12,000 Open 2 Handicap where recent New Zealand import Vapour N (Pat Berry) was made the 3-5 favorite based off a sharp, 1:55.3 score in a local qualifier in which he paced his back half in 55.2 seconds. Vapour N, a $54,000 purchase from down under, arrived with a stellar group that included recent Yonkers Raceway winners Bit Of A Legend N and Bettor Rock On N.

When the gate folded in the opening night feature, Hot Art (Jason Thompson), hero of the last edition of the Open in 2015, left very alertly as he is accustomed to doing to secure good early position, then yielded to Dover Downs invader Dinner At The Met (Jonathan Roberts), an Open 1 winner here last fall. Vapour N settled into fourth as Dinner At The Met rolled by the midway mark in 55.2 then looked to seal the verdict down the backside.

But as Dinner At The Met sped by three-quarters in 1:23, Vapour N gradually wore down the leader and actually surged to a short lead while first over on the far turn. At the top of the lane, Vapour N disposed of Dinner At The Met and looked poised to succeed in his U.S. debut, but Hot Art slipped through along the passing lane and just got up to score by a neck in 1:51.3. Concert Artist (Chris Offutt) closed willingly in the lane to grab the show spot.

Hot Art, a seven-year-old Art Major gelding owned, bred and trained by John Baxter, kicked off his 2016 campaign in sharp fashion and now sports 20 wins and earnings of over $135,000 from 76 career starts. Vapour N raced extremely well in defeat and looms a major player in this class as long as Berry keeps decides to race at Rosecroft. At some point this spring, Vapour N is likely o get lured away to Harrah's Philadelphia.

Then two races later on the card, Acardi (Berry) and Simon's Artist (Roberts) literally hit the finish line together and were declared dead-heat winners of a non-winners of $6000 last five starts class while stopping the timer in 1:52.2. Acardi has now won twice in eight starts this year for owner-trainer Arty Foster, Jr., while Simon's Artist notched his second win in seven outings this year for owner-trainer Richard Ringler, Jr. Coincidentally, it was also the 25th lifetime win for both pacers.