Columbus, MN — So many things have been significantly different about the 2020 harness racing season, not only at Running Aces in Minnesota, but at so many venues across North America and likely across the world as well.
One difference this year at Running Aces that has been fun to see develop over the summer season is the leaderboard for our top 10 trainers. On this year’s list there are many rising stars, joining stalwart top trainers like Kathie Plested-Wiseman, Justin Anfinson, Gene Miller and Tim Maier.
Today we want to shine the spotlight on those rising stars and highlight some of their impressive accomplishments over the current racing season.
Jessica Johnson jumped out to a big early lead in the standings by posting lots of early success in both June and July. Johnson is in her first year as head trainer for Roland racing stable; she has been a key figure in the operation for many years but this is the first season that she has been listed as the trainer of record. After her very fast start she has been able to maintain her lead in the standings all the way into the final week of the season, and currently holds a five win lead at the top with 36 wins, and is sporting an overall win percentage of 20.4 and a UTR rating of .354. Headliners in the Johnson barn this summer have included sophomore trotting filly Teachmehowtotory and sophomore pacing colt It’s A Marcs World. Both are the current seasonal leaders in their respective divisions of the Minnesota-Sired program.
Richard Bertrand is in the midst of his best season ever both at Running Aces and overall. The Michigan native has been a regular at both Cal-Expo and Aces for many years and credits improved stock and loyal owners as key factors in helping him become one of the top trainers in Minnesota this season. Heading into the final six days of the meet he is sitting second in the standings with 31 wins and has a win percentage of 13 and a rating of .238. Top performers for Bertrand include upper condition level pacer Mystery Dragon, 4-year-old pacer Haulin’ Oats, and veteran 14-year-old pacer Best Dream Seeker to name a few.
Edwin Quevedo is a trainer that came onto the scene at both Cal-Expo and Running Aces about five years ago and has proven to be a solid horseman. He has steadily advanced up the rankings over the past three seasons, hitting the top five for the first time at Aces last year, followed by a close second place finish at Cal-Expo last winter and is currently a close third in the Aces standings with 29 wins and a solid winning percentage of 21.3 and a solid rating of .326. Quevedo is on pace to record his highest career seasonal win total to date. The star of the Quevedo barn this season is the standout Open pacer Heza Real Diamond, who has won 10 of 19 starts this year.
Williams Hernandez has followed the same Cal-Expo and Aces circuit since becoming a full-time trainer in 2016 and has also ventured to New York and New Jersey in the past couple of years. He has proven himself as a solid horseman as well and is currently among the top 10 trainers in Minnesota with 19 wins and a strike percentage of 16.2 with a .299 rating. He is also on pace to post career best totals this year across the board. Top horses for Hernandez include Open trotter Muscle Ave and Open level pacers Paklane Jet and Prologue.
Edward Hernandez, (brother to Williams) is a relatively new trainer in just his second year as a full time trainer, and ranks among the top trainers this summer with very impressive numbers. He leads all trainers at Running Aces in win percentage at a stunning 33.3 and UTR rating with a phenomenal .511 and he has 15 wins to his credit so far at the meet. He has posted standout performances with sophomore pacer So So De Vie and 8-year-old pacer PH Kenny.
Chris Scicluna made his Aces debut this season and has also posted solid numbers to rank among the top 10. The Australian native has racked up 19 wins in Minnesota so far and shows an impressive win percentage of 27.5 and a very strong rating of .420. He is also on pace to post his career best seasonal win total and UTR rating. Scicluna’s top performers at Running Aces have included Open-level pacers Keep On Rocking A, Hoo Nien A and top pacing mare My Kiwi Lady N.
Ariel Alvarez is one of the newest trainers at Running Aces. The 25-year-old secured his full trainers license this July and has posted very impressive early numbers. Alvarez has picked up nine wins from his first 43 starts, with 24 top-three finishes. His win percentage so far is an impressive 20.9 and he sports a current UTR rating of .388. The star of the Alvarez barn has been 6-year-old pacing mare Lakota Law, who recently won four consecutive races.
The Minnesota harness racing season is beginning to wind down, with just six racing days to go before the curtain call on Oct. 4. Live racing is conducted every Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. (CDT).