Columbus, MN — The harness racing season at Running Aces got underway on Sunday night (May 15) with a strong crowd and some very exciting finishes. In fact, five of the eight races on the opening night card were decided by a half-length or less, and bettors were rewarded with some nice payouts throughout the night, as only two favorites were able to find the winner’s circle.
Driver Mooney Svendsen orchestrated the first upset winner of the meet in race one, steering 5-1 shot Sweet Young Thing ($13.80) to an impressive gate-to-wire score by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:56 while heavy favorite City By The Bay (Nick Roland) failed to clear from a first-over trip and was off the board. The winner is owned by Sal Wenceslao and is trained by Bob Johnson.
The $16,500 Open Handicap Trot was decided by just one length at the wire, as Hearduwhispermynam delivered a sharp closing effort in his seasonal debut to capture the feature in 1:56.4.
Driver Rick Magee eased the 5-year-old son of Braggart away from the gate in sixth position in the eight-horse affair and they sat patiently through the early fractions of :28.2 and :57.3 and then picked up second-over cover as they raced down the backstretch.
Mandeville (Luke Plano) was under heavy pressure on the lead near the three-quarter pole from Mind Yown Business (Dean Magee) who then forged to the lead as they straightened for home. Hearduwhispermynam ($20.60) tipped wide in the lane and had plenty of late trot to sweep by the leaders and pick up his 14th career win for owner/trainer Jenni King who is also the winning breeder.
The $13,000 Open II Handicap Trot went to Spice-It-Up (Plano), who got the decision by a neck in a thrilling stretch battle with stablemate Bordogna (Rick Magee).
Major Al-Mar was fast off the gate and posted quick fractions of :27.4, :56.4 and 1:26.1 before Bordogna launched an attack from the pocket as they rounded for the stretch. Spice-It-Up shook free from third and Romantic Warrior (Gary Rath) closed up the inside as those three charged down the lane. Spice-It-Up ($26.20) hit the wire first in 1:57.4 for her fourth win of the season, while Bordogna was right there in second and Romantic Warrior was a close third.
The top two finishers are trained by Justin Anfinson and both are owned by Ken Stauffer, while Cathy Dessert also owns the runner-up.
Nick Roland led the Sunday program with three driving wins, while Dean Magee posted a driving double and Justin Anfinson posted a training double.
Live racing returns to Running Aces on Tuesday (May 17) with first post at 7 p.m. (CDT) and will feature two carryovers: $1,123.74 in the Hi-5 wager and $884.19 in the Pick-5 Jackpot.