Natameri scorches Plainridge Open in 1:49

Plainville, MA — They were flying at The Ridge on Monday afternoon (June 3) and Natameri led the way after registering a 1:49 flat victory in the $20,000 Open Handicap pacing feature, which was the fastest pacing mile of the year so far at Plainridge Park.

Natameri scorched the Plainridge Park strip today with the fastest pacing mile of the year in 1:49. Tom Melanson photo.

It was a speed duel off the gate as Natameri (Drew Campbell) and My Pal Joe (Shawn Gray) waged a tooth, fang and claw battle to the quarter in :25.3 as neither wanted to give way. Gray finally grabbed up and ducked into the pocket with My Pal Joe behind the footloose Natameri. With the field seated, Natameri continued his expeditious ways, hitting the half in :53 and three-quarters in 1:20.2 as Fourever Boy (Brett Beckwith) tried to gain ground on the outside during the middle half.

As the race spun out of the final turn, the field began to bunch and several horses looked like they had a shot. Natameri was still in command, but The Wild Card (Nick Graffam), My Pal Joe, Fourever Boy and Always A Miki (Matty Athearn) were four across the track and closing. The quartet continued to inch closer to the leader, but Natameri stayed strong and closed out the mile with a one length win in 1:49, as only one-half length separated positions two through five behind him.

It was the first win of the year for Natameri ($6.40) who is owned by the Purple Haze Stable and trained by Jessica Okusko.

It was the first of two wins for Drew Campbell on Monday.

Skyway Victor posted a season best 1:50.2 in the $17K Open III pace today at The Ridge. Tom Melanson photo.

Earlier in the $17,000 Open III pace, Skyway Victor (Bruce Ranger) led through quarters of :26.3, :55.2 and 1:22.4 with Torrid Saint A (Matty Athearn) stalking him every step of the way. Skyway Victor turned for home with a one length advantage, but Torrid Saint A made a late rush and closed quickly. But he came up just one-quarter length short as Skyway Victor claimed his third win of the year, timed in a season’s best 1:50.2.

Skyway Victor ($4.60) is owned by his trainer, Mark Eaton, in partnership with Robert Griffin.

Bruce Ranger scored a driving hat trick during the afternoon.

There was another sub-1:50 mile on the card Monday and that was recorded by Justa Little Bit A (Matty Athearn) in the $13,000 Trackmaster 84 event. Justa Little Bit A sat second behind Major Betts (Bruce Ranger) to the half, but then made a brush and crush move passing the five-eighths where he took the lead and never looked back. Justa Little Bit A opened up a two length lead at three-quarters, extended it to four at the top of the stretch and then bolted home on top by 5-½ lengths in a new lifetime mark of 1:49.4.

Justa Little Bit A ($5.00) is owned and trained by Gretchen Athearn.

Justa Little Bit A was the third win of Matty Athearn’s driving grand slam. Matty Ice also won with Paternity Suit A (1:51.1, $4.00) and Manferno (1:52.1, $7.40), both of which were trained by Jimmy Nickerson who was the day’s leading trainer, and Varney (1:52, $22.80).

Plainridge Park’s leading driver, Brett Beckwith, hit a career milestone while driving at the Meadowlands this past Friday (May 31) when he surpassed the $10 million mark in earnings. At 21-years of age, Beckwith is one of the youngest drivers in the sport to reach this plateau and many of the races that he won that added to his earnings total came right here at Plainridge Park and everyone at the track wishes to extend their congratulations. Beckwith is currently the second leading dash driver in North America and is on pace to have a career year for wins and earnings in 2024.

Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday (June 4) with post time at 4 p.m. and the card will feature a $3,578 carryover in the Wicked Hi-5 in race six.

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