Saddle Up rides high in Aces feature pace

Columbus, MN — Top-level male pacers were in the spotlight at Running Aces on Tuesday (June 21) with two talented fields assembled for the Open I and Open II Handicap events, which drew seven starters in each split.

Saddle Up forged to the lead in the shadow of the wire. Dee Leftwich photo.

The top group went for $16,500 and when the gate sped away from the field there was an immediate three-wide battle for the lead, with Pancetta (James Lackey) and SB Bodacious (Rick Magee) both leaving sharply from the two inside positions and Caliber blasting out from post seven. Driver Dean Magee made the top quickly with Caliber and SB Bodacious settled for the pocket while Pancetta yielded in third and the opening quarter was registered in :27.

Caliber settled down for a second quarter breather of :29 and then braced for the challenge of Saddle Up and Luke Plano, who pulled first-up from fourth as they headed down the backstretch. Caliber turned in a :27 third panel and remained in control until mid-stretch but Saddle Up had more to give and forged to the lead in the shadow of the wire as SB Bodacious closed in the passing lane to also edge past Caliber. The winning margin was three-quarters of a length and the final time of 1:51.1 was a seasonal best for Saddle Up ($9.20), as well as the fastest mile of the Running Aces meet so far.

The winner is a 4-year-old son of JK Endofanera and is owned by Jeff Fought Racing and trained by Justin Anfinson. He is now unbeaten in three local starts.

The $13,000 Open II event went to EL’s Disco Johnny who delivered from post six as the 3-5 favorite for his second local win.

Major Offense (Brady Jenson) was first to the front from post four but driver Nick Roland was quick to pull the trigger on the favorite and they swept to the lead just past the quarter. Once at the head of affairs, EL’s Disco Johnny ($3.20) was always comfortable and paced strong all the way to the finish for a two length tally in 1:52.4 while Major Offense was clearly second best and Whatchyastarinat (Tony Kerwood) closed from fifth with a solid first-over journey to pick up third money.

The winner is a 4-year-old stallion by Always A Virgin and is owned by Jose Cervantes and trained by Maria Alvarez. He now shows five wins in 19 starts this season.

Live racing returns to Running Aces on Thursday (June 23) and will feature a pair of carryovers, including $2,678.84 for the 20-cent Pick-5 Jackpot and $967.44 for the 50-cent Hi-5. The Late Pick-4 wager features a $5,000 guaranteed pool. First post is at 7 p.m. (CDT).

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