Illusion Seelster, Apple Juice grab headlines at Running Aces Thursday

Columbus, MN – The Thursday night (May 30) harness racing program at Running Aces was loaded with notable events, including the $15,500 Mares Open Handicap pace, three divisions of the $41,000 Minnesota-sired sophomore pace and two divisions of The Burning Blaze pacing series.

Illusion Seelster paced clear late to win the Mares Open Handicap in 1:52.3 Thursday at Running Aces. Nicole Tate photo.

Illusion Seelster (State Treasurer) was the talk of the tote board in the Mares Open, as she was sent off as the 4-5 public choice from post five in the nine-horse contest.

Driver Jacob Cutting floated her off the gate in sixth while Two Pistol Annie (James Kennedy) and Ain’t She Special (Luke Plano) both left from outside posts to take the front positions through early fractions of :27 and :56.2.

Cutting tipped out near the half to follow cover behind Better Double Flip (Todd Warren) and those two quickly advanced past the leaders as the field headed into the far turn, with Better Double Flip making the top near the third checkpoint in 1:24.3.

Illusion Seelster surged strongly as they rounded for the stretch drive and had forged past to take the lead at the top of the lane while Better Double Flip tried to respond and both Premier Delight and Graceful Horizon closed from the back of the field, to finish third and fourth, respectively.

Illusion Seelster ($3.80) remained strong in the final stages and paced clear to win by 2-3/4 lengths and stop the timer in 1:52.3 while Better Double Flip was a clear second best.

The winner is a 4-year-old and she now shows four wins from 10 starts this year, with seasonal earnings of $42,800 for owner Terrence Smith. She is trained by Williams Hernandez.

Reigning Minnesota Harness Racing Horse of the Year Apple Juice (Fancy Schmansy) was back in action on Thursday in the $17,000 sophomore filly ‘A’ pace and she did not disappoint her fans and pari-mutuel backers, turning in a sharp performance to post her first win of the year.

Cutting was the pilot behind Apple Juice and they wasted no time in asserting themselves to the lead while chief rival Deja Vu Babyboo (Nick Roland) was also fast off the car and secured the pocket. Those two dominated the affair and ultimately provided a great battle in the final sixteenth of a mile with Apple Juice holding her rival at bay by a half-length in 1:54.2 to equal her career best.

Apple Juice ($3) now shows nine wins from 16 career starts and earnings of $112,353 for owner/trainer/breeder Scott Banitt.

Rocklikeahurricane (Todd Warren, $5.20) held gamely to win by neck over both Bapa’s Double Knot and Lovely Normajean in the $8,500 sophomore ‘B’ pace in 1:58. The winner is owned by Alan and Cheryl Sandbulte and trained by Justin Anfinson.

Celebrity Status (Roland, $6.40) dominated the $17,000 sophomore male pace in a career best 1:56.2 over Flushing Art and Moon Kid Photo. The winner is owned by Set The Pace Racing and is trained by Roland.

The winners in the first leg action of The Burning Blaze pacing series were Stayinforthedance (Cutting, $4) in 1:55.1 for owner/trainer Elson Miller and Charmingsix (Dean Magee, $2.60) in 1:54.3 for owner/trainer Larry Feilbach and additional owners Claire Vanden Berg and Brent Feilbach.

Driver Jacob Cutting posted four wins on the Thursday night program for the first ‘grand slam’ of the Aces season.

Brady Jenson posted a driving and training double, and trainer Elson Miller also sent out two winners.

Live racing returns to Running Aces on Sunday night (June 2) with a 12-race program that will get underway at 6 p.m. (CDT).

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