Columbus, OH — After a week of qualifiers, heavy rain, and anticipation Scioto Downs kicked off their 2020 live racing meet on Friday (May 22).
“Six days after qualifiers, we were able to start racing thanks to our amazing team,” said Joe Morris, the Senior Vice President of Racing at Eldorado Resorts.
Scioto started things off in a big way with just over $127,000 wagered in the first race. The guaranteed Pick-5 was a big hit with horseplayers, surpassing the guarantee with more than $22,000 wagered.
Total handle on the 12-race program was $1,054,294.15, the second highest handle in history at Scioto Downs, a number that hasn’t been seen at the five-eighths-mile oval in more than 20 years.
“I have to thank our team and the horsemen for helping put on the show,” said Morris. “The horsemen are rugged, it’s been a long week and I’m proud of everyone on a job well done.”
Scioto wasted no time getting back to racing on Friday, following the Ohio State Racing Commission in conjunction with Governor Mike DeWine’s office coming up with protocols to race without fans safely. The Commission passed a resolution allowing racing to return at their May 14 meeting.
“For three weeks in a row, I thought racing was going to get rolling,” said Morris. “We’re glad to have been given this opportunity by the Commission and Governor’s office to start racing.”
The road to the start of racing kicked off on Saturday (May 16), as 16 qualifiers went to the track, followed by four more days in preparation for the opening night card.
“Our Race Secretary, Jason Roth, had a great idea to write the condition sheet for qualifiers like he would a race card,” said Morris. “His great idea ensured that we would have the right horses to fill Friday’s card.”
“It’s been a busy week with all of the qualifiers,” said Roth. “Everyone has been very receptive to the protocols that have been put into place.”
The first program of the year featured a pair of Open races, one for Filly and Mare pacers (race six) and one for trotters (race eight).
A compact field of six went to the gate in the distaff Open and St Lads Gidget (Aaron Merriman) wasted no time leaving the gate, looking to control the fractions. After a strong first-quarter of :26.4, Merriman was able to ration out the speed with a :28.3 second panel, but he was forced to step on the gas dealing with pressure from Golden Paradise moving up the backstretch.
Rosemary Rose (Chris Page) was patient through the mile, riding second over cover to three-quarters before firing down the stretch. After putting away St Lads Gidget she dealt with a late charge from Sally Fletcher A (Brett Miller), but was able to hold on by a nose in 1:51.2.
For Rosemary Rose, it was her third victory of the year in 10 starts for owners Burke Racing Stable, Jason Melillo, and Weaver Bruscemi and trainer Ron Burke. The 6-year-old, who has shown no signs of slowing down, has bankrolled $567,207 in her career. Rosemary Rose was one of six victories on the card for driver Chris Page.
The photo finish camera couldn’t separate the Open Trot competitors as Peggy Sue (Brady Galliers) and Eye Ofa Tiger AS (Elliott Deaton) hit the wire together in a strong stretch battle.
There were fireworks early on as heavy favorite Workinitonbroadway (Page) made a costly miscue at the start allowing Wildfire Seelster (Tyler Smith) to get to the front through the first quarter in :28.1. Wildfire Seelster was able to get a breather in the second quarter (:58) before having to sprint up the backstretch.
Eye Ofa Tiger AS pulled first up heading to the three-quarter pole, forcing the hand of Peggy Sue and Galliers to make a first-over grind. After hitting three-quarters in 1:26.3, Wildfire Seelster fought gamely through the stretch, but was collared late by Peggy Sue and a hard charging Eye Ofa Tiger AS in 1:55.1.
Peggy Sue was able to lock up her third victory of the year, moving her earnings to $48,230 for owner Galliers Racing and trainer Brady Galliers. Eye Ofa Tiger AS scored his first victory of the season for trainer Anette Lorentzon and owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. His career earnings now stack up at $577,768.
Live racing at Scioto Downs returns on Saturday night (May 23) with a 6:30 p.m. first post. The card features a $10,000 guaranteed Pick-5 in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program. Past performances provided by TrackMaster can be found by visiting https://legacy.trackmaster.com/usta/scd0523x.pdf.