Racing Roundup: Longo sweeps pair of features at Running Aces

from harness publicists across North America

Saturday’s (Aug. 1) edition of Racing Roundup features stories from Running Aces, Tioga Downs, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Vernon Downs and Kawartha Downs.

Longo sweeps pair of features at Running Aces

Columbus, MN — Veteran horseman Gerry Longo seems to be getting better with age. Now 70 years old, but still going strong with a string of ten horses in his stable, driver Longo swept to victory in the last three races on the Saturday night card at Running Aces.

With the triple, Longo leaped back into fourth place in the current driver’s standings, sporting 30 wins in the first 29 nights of the 53-night meet. He also ranks fourth in the local trainer’s standings with 20 wins from 70 starts.

Longo won both feature races on the Saturday program, guiding his own Kiss On The Lips to a 1:54.3, half-length score in the $8,000 Fillies and Mares Open and steering trainer Gene Miller’s It’s Getting Hairy to a 1:54.2 tally in the $6,500 Open II for males.

Longo concluded his “turkey” by capturing the $3,000 conditioned race nightcap with longshot Barbosa, a 4-year-old gelding which he also owns.

Kiss On The Lips came first-up before the quarter and cleared to the front well before the half, then held off favored Party Hanover Two (Steve Wiseman), Keep The Dream (Travis Bowman) and De Valeria (Tim Maier) in a driving finish that resulted in all four mares being lapped on to one another at the wire.

The win was the 16th in 59 career tries for Kiss On The Lips, a 5-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway who inched closer to the $100,000 earnings plateau — currently at $97,264.

It’s Getting Hairy is owned by Wolfswinkel Pacers Inc. and now sports 22 victories and a bankroll of $109,003. The Minnesota-sired 6-year-old son of Relentless Yankee topped stablemate Bunkerhill Bill (Tony Succarotte), the runner-up who was uncoupled in the wagering, Major Hottie (Kim Pluta) and Greybeard (Brian Detgen).

Barbosa kicked back $22.40 to his $2 supporters, upsetting fellow longshot Kablooie (Kim Pluta) and favorite Goody Two Socks (Rick Magee) in a very tight three-way photo finish. Unraced at two, it was Barbosa’s ninth win over the last two seasons.

If Longo can maintain his present 30 percent win percentage with starters from his current hard-hitting stable, this will be his finest and most productive season at Running Aces. One of just a handful of trainers who have called Running Aces their summer home since the track’s inception eight years ago, Gerry shows no signs of letting up any time soon.

“I’ve been training horses my whole life,” Longo exclaims, “and I want to race as long as I’m able and competitive.”

There seems to be no reason to start planning a retirement party anytime soon!

— Running Aces

Tioga Downs
Taking advantage of a pocket trip and room on the far turn left by a fading Bourbon Bay, Skates N Plates ($29.60) pounced late to just collar Six Bax in Saturday evening’s $14,000 Open Trot at Tioga Downs.
Aaron Byron secured the pocket with the 4-year-old Revenue entire, drafting behind Grey Ice (Corey Braden) through a :27.2 first quarter. As soon as Byron vacated the pocket and brushed Skates N Plates to the lead, though, Six Bax (Jim Taggart Jr.) circled three-deep out of third, clearing just upon passing the winning post on the first occasion. After taking charge through a :55.2 half-mile, Six Bax faced mild pressure on the backstretch from the first-over Bourbon Bay (John Cummings Jr.), maintaining his 1-1/2 length lead through three-quarters in 1:24.3. As Bourbon Bay faded on the far turn, Skates N Plates found room to vacate the pegs, driven to a narrow 1:53.4 victory in the final yards. Six Bax held second, while Tirade Hanover (Tyler Raymer) kicked cover off the far turn to take third. Paul Kelley trains Skates N Plates for owner-breeder Robert Key. Byron scored a hat trick on the 12-race card, as did Jim Taggart Jr. Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Sunday (Aug. 2) afternoon, with the first of 11 races due to begin at 1:30 p.m. (EDT).

Saratoga Casino and Raceway
JK Panache (Art Major) matched the track record set just last week for older pacing geldings in Saturday night’s Open Pace. The Dave Dewhurst-trained pacer matched the all-age track record at Vernon Downs two weeks ago in a 1:47.3 romp and prevailed in last Saturday’s Open at the Spa in 1:51.2. In this week’s $18,000 feature, JK Panache took advantage of an early speed duel to swoop the group in dazzling fashion. Billy Dobson piloted the 6-year-old New York-bred pacer and sat well off the pace while the fractions in the first half were put up in :26.3 and :54.4. Dobson unleashed the race’s 9-5 second choice in the wagering heading towards the half and he surged past his rivals heading towards the three-quarter pole before opening up an insurmountable lead. JK Panache paced quickly to the wire and stopped the timer in 1:50.1, matching the track record for older geldings set last week in the $260,000 Gerrity Memorial Pace by P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett). Yonkers invader Stevensville (Ray Schnittker) closed from last to finish second in Saturday’s Open while Titus Seelster (Frank Coppola Jr.) came on to finish third. JK Panache is owned by Philip Hale and trainer Dave Dewhurst. Live racing resumes on Tuesday night at Saratoga with a first post time set for 7:05 p.m.

Vernon Downs
Sustaining a first-over bid through the far turn, Wings Of Royalty ($2.40) wore down the pacesetting Count Speed for a 1:54.3 triumph in the $8,000 Open II Trot at Vernon Downs on Saturday evening.
Count Speed (John MacDonald) crossed and cleared from the extreme outside to dictate the terms, rating a :56.4 half-mile before facing the first-over Wings Of Royalty on the far turn. The two dueled through a :28.1 third quarter, continuing their battle off the corner while leaving the pocket-sitting A Lister (Fern Paquet Jr.) five lengths in arrears. Wings Of Royalty ultimately prevailed by three-quarters of a length, wearing down Count Speed in the final yards. Fleetwood Hall (Roman Lopez) charged off cover to take third, just missing by a length. George Ducharme trains Wings Of Royalty for owner-breeder Raymond Campbell Jr. Truman Gale led all drivers with four wins on the 11-race program. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Sunday (Aug. 2) afternoon, with the first of 10 races scheduled for 1:15 p.m. (EDT).

Kawartha Downs
The largest crowd of the 2015 season to date, more than 3,200 people, turned out to Kawartha Downs to enjoy Family Fun Night. The kids enjoyed face painting, balloon animals, a bouncy castle and slide along with free stress horses, popcorn, sno cones, drinks and candy. Those 16 and under were also eligible to win several prizes awarded throughout the evening, one of which was the winner’s circle photo from the Family Night Pace. The winner of that prize was Carson Broadstock who attended the evening with his dad Bob, the president of QROOI — “it’s the Quarter Horse equivalent to OHHA (the Ontario Harness Horse Association),” he explained. OHHA was also at Kawartha as they presented their very popular Hands On Horses program where four people won the opportunity to ride around the track between races behind Standardbreds being driven by Steacy Reinsma and Justin Herrod. Broadstock was so impressed with the program he is going to attempt to introduce it to the Quarter Horse fans at Ajax Downs which he believes would be a great way for them to learn about Standardbreds with a very enjoyable experience.

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