Minnesota champions crowned at Running Aces

Columbus, MN — Running Aces closed out it’s 2019 season with a bang on Saturday night (Sept. 14), hosting the track’s annual Night of Champions program which featured some strong numbers. There were record purses of $543,500, the richest harness racing card in state history, and 111 Minnesota-sired horses participated establishing a new standard. The strong closing night numbers were icing on the cake for another successful season at the Minnesota track, for the fifth consecutive year, a new record was set for total wagering on the tracks live racing product.

Burning Blaze wins back-to-back Minnesota championships with driver Steve Wiseman. Dee Leftwich photo.

The large and enthusiastic on-track crowd was treated to some great racing throughout the night, dominated by many impressive favorites delivering as expected, but the night was not without some upset winners.

Burning Blaze turned in another ultra-impressive performance in the $40,000 3-year-old colts & gelding pace, with a gate-to-wire win in 1:55.2. Steve Wiseman was in the sulky and they easily dominated some very strong competition. This was back-to-back titles for the 2018 Minnesota Horse of the Year, who struggled somewhat during the early stages of his sophomore campaign, but returned to his best form over the past two months.

Burning Blaze was favored at 3-5 in the wagering and returned $3.40 for every $2.00 ticket. The winning margin was 2-3/4 lengths over Trump Train (Don Harmon) and SB Bodacious (Rick Magee). The winning owners are Alan & Cheryl Sandbulte and Edward Gutin, and the winning trainer is Justin Anfinson.

Bunkerhill Phil turned an impressive win of his own in the $50,000 2-year-old colts & gelding pace, to pick up his 10th win of the season and a new lifetime mark of 1:56.1. Driver Don Harmon was in the bike and the pair did it the hard way with a tough first-over trip for more than five-eighths of the mile. Get My Good Side (Steve Wiseman) rallied for second money, while Dubberyoo (Dean Magee) home in third.

Bunkerhill Phil was the heavy favorite and returned $2.80 on top. The impressive gelding is owned and trained by Gene Miller.

Susie’s Sister ($2.80) and driver Don Harmon dominated the $50,000 2-year-old filly trot as expected, turning in a 1:59.1 track record performance with her ninth career win in 13 outings. The impressive filly by Claudius Augustus is owned by Lynchris, LLC and is trained by Don Harmon. Teachmehowtotory (Nick Roland) was by far the best of the rest in the record mile, while Double My Decker (Rick Magee) got home third.

Watchmeneighneigh provided the longshot players with a late-card delight in the penultimate race of the season, scoring a sharp closing win in a career best mile of 1:53 at no less than 57-1 on the board, in the $40,000 3-year-old colt & gelding pace. Driver Dean Magee worked out a perfect second-over trip and tipped wide into the lane with plenty of pace to get up right on the wire and upset heavily favored Stuckey Dote in a thrilling finish, with Deweydiddonegood (Mooney Svendsen) an impressive third.

The winning tickets on Watchmeneighneigh picked up $117.00 for every $2.00 bet.

That victory was career win number eight for the gelded son of Voracious Hanover, and boosted his career bankroll to $89,045 for owner/breeder Richard Davelaar. The winning trainer is Gordon Graham.

Other repeat winners were: Twilight Tinker (2:01.1), Al Mar Reba Babe (1:56.4), Windmeupnwatchmego (1:55.3), French Eclipse (1:57.2), and Place N First (1:55).

The first time winners were: Ice Storm (1:59.1), Hearduwhispermynam (2:01.2), and Huftalookatdatfany (1:58.4)

Trainer Gordon Graham had four winners on the Night of Champions program.

Owner/Trainer Jenni King sent out three winners on the historic night.

Dean Magee was recognized as leading driver of the meet, picking up three victories on Saturday for a grand total of 87 wins for the meet and his third title at Running Aces. T

Trainer Kathleen Plested was honored for her 2019 season with 40 wins to post her third consecutive title in a row at Running Aces.

Drivers Nick Roland, Don Harmon, Rick Magee and Steve Wiseman all had two wins on the Night of Champions card.

Running Aces offers year round action with Simulcast Racing 11 a.m. to midnight daily and casino action 24/7. Live Racing will return in May of next year.

Visit RunAces.com for information about upcoming events.

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