Columbus, MN — On Sunday evening (July 14) Running Aces hosted elimination races for the biggest harness racing event of the summer in Minnesota — The Dan Patch FFA Pace.
Fourteen contenders lined up in two fields of seven to battle it out and decide the finalists for next week’s $50,000 signature event.
Defending Dan Patch FFA champion Nine Ways (Dean Magee) was a headliner in the second $15,000 elimination on the card, along with last year’s runner-up and 2017 champion Firedrake (Nick Roland). They were the two fastest away from the gate, with Nine Ways sprinting to the lead and Firedrake securing the pocket through the opening quarter in :26.4.
SF Donttellonme (Rick Magee) paced away in third as Nine Ways maintained a solid tempo (:55 and 1:22.4). Bettor’s Promise launched a first-over bid near the half, and applied pressure to the leader down the backstretch and around the far turn, with Ideal Ace and To The Limit in the outer flow, but nobody was able to get past Nine Ways, who paced home strong through the lane with a :27.4 final panel and held off Firedrake who emerged from the pocket with pace. Nine Ways dug in for a 1-1/4 length tally to stop the timer in 1:50.3 and register the fastest mile in the history of Running Aces. SF Donttellonme held third over Bettor’s Promise, while To The Limit won a big battle for the final qualifying spot.
Nine Ways ($2.40) is a 5-year-old gelded son of Delmarvelous out of the Cam’s Card Shark mare Nine Of Hearts. The victory completed five wins in a row for Nine Ways for owner Antonia Storer and trainer Tim Maier, and pushed his career numbers to 23 wins and $244,906.
The first $15,000 elimination heat carried two of the most anticipated starters from the overall nomination field — Fox Valley Gemini (Steve Wiseman) the Hawthorne shipper who was looking to extend a six race win streak, and Rockin Speed (Travis Seekman) who shipped in from Indiana where he just posted a 1:49.1 career mark.
Local speedster Urgointohearmeroar (Lemoyne Svendsen) was also in the first grouping, along with the lone mare in the 2019 Dan Patch field, Juslikeaqueen (Dean Magee).
Rockin Speed blasted from the gate from post two to take a firm early command, forcing Fox Valley Gemini to settle for the pocket from the rail, while Urgointohearmeroar floated away in third as they completed the fast :26.3 opening stanza. Urgointohearmeroar got rolling on the outside near the half, and was first over with Juslikeaqueen in tow and Major Legacy third-over. Urgointohearmeroar continued to pressure Rockin Speed through the middle panels of :55.3 and 1:23.1 while keeping Fox Valley Gemini locked tight in the pocket.
A furious stretch battle ensued as they turned for home, with Urgointohearmeroar getting the upper hand late for a three-quarter length score over Rockin Speed in a 1:51 mile. Top Notch (Rick Magee) rallied from the back of the pack to secure third at 75-1, while Annihilator (Don Harmon) also closed well to pick up fourth at 72-1 and Fox Valley Gemini completed the top five.
Urgointohearmeroar completed a five race win streak with his elimination victory, adding to his impressive total of 13 wins in 15 starts this season, for earnings of $45,765. The impressive 4-year-old Mystery Chase gelding is owned and trained by Mark Anderson.
The $15,000 Open II Handicap Pace went to Holdingallthecards ($4.80, Dean Magee) in 1:51.4 for his fourth win in 16 starts this year, and the $16,000 Open Handicap Trot went to My Uncle Cuz ($20.60, Don Harmon) for his second win in nine season’s starts, and a seasonal best clocking of 1:55.4.
Heavy rains moved into the area at Running Aces after race ten, with race 11 going to post under sloppy conditions. After a delay, and further bands of heavy rain, race 12 was cancelled due to safety concerns.
Live racing returns to Running Aces on Tuesday (July 16) with a big 12-race program that offers two carryovers — the 20-cent Pick-5 Jackpot carryover is $5,310.11 and the 50-cent Hi-5 carryover is $1,655.11. Post time on Tuesday is 7 p.m. (CDT).