Day At The Track

$363,825 Virginia harness "champions" card

07:17 PM 16 Oct 2015 NZDT
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Oak Ridge Estate
Oak Ridge Estate

(ARRINGRON, VA --- 10/15/2015) ---- Blueridge Pushy and Riggy, respective two year old Virginia-bred champions last year in the harness racing filly and colt pacing divisions, return as favorites to repeat in 2015 as they headline Sunday's $363,825 "Champions Day" Extravaganza at the Oak Ridge Estate in Nelson County. The pair most recently captured their three year old prep races at Oak Ridge last weekend.

Top Virginia-bred pacers and trotters of both sexes will compete in eight championship races on Sunday, presented by the Virginia Equine Alliance. Three will be contested as non-betting events while the other five will be included as part of a ten race pari-mutuel program starting at 1:00 PM. Harness racing returned to Oak Ridge last weekend for the first time since 2001 and this will be the first time "Champions Day" has ever been held there. The past 17 editions have been contested at Colonial Downs in New Kent.

Herman Hagerman's Blueridge Pushy beat four other fillies in her prep and is favored in the $45,600 finale. J D. Wengerd directed the 3 1/4 length victory in 2:02 2/5, and in similar style to 2014's championship race, beat the same runner-up and third place finishers in identical order again. Freddy Darby's Loves You Baby was second and Scott Warnick's Here Comes Lucy ended up third. Blueridge Pushy is a Badlands Hanover filly out of Cam's Pushy Woman by Cambest.  
 
Brian Burton's Riggy held off  four foes to reach the winner's circle in the male counterpart and is early choice to repeat in the $46,200 final. The Riggins gelding covered the mile in 2:00.0 and beat Majestos by two lengths. Riggy came to Virginia on a roll, fresh off a pair of runner-up finishes and a dominant victory in Maryland. Leonard Hubbard of Cambridge, Maryland owns the pacer, who is out of Sesame Bagel, by The Panderosa.
  
In the two Virginia-bred sophomore trotting preps, a pair of long time conditioners scored wins in very different fashion. Renfrow Hauser's Max Santorini went wire-to-wire in the colt/gelding trot but held on to win by just a nose over a pesky Flaming Caviar. Charlie Dunavant's Ah Me didn't rely on a close call, rolling to a 20 length triumph over stablemate Kiss My Cart in the filly division. Max Santorini, a Gregory Pecs colt out of Luring Maxine, by Luring, crossed in 2:11 1/5 while Ah Me, a Mr. Commando filly out of Koala Kosmos, by SJ's Photo, connected in 2:07 1/5. Both are favored in their respective $43,000 and $45,600 divisions Sunday, which will be held as non-betting races at 11:45 AM and 12:15 PM.

Trainer Charlie Dunavant's stable swept both Virginia-bred two year trotting prep races last Sunday as Cicada's Song captured the filly division warm-up in 2:14 1/5 and Elton J won the male audition in 2:06 2/5. Driver Carlo Poliseno was the common factor in both, though like the three year old trotting preps, they came very differently. The first was a blowout win against two other foes who both broke stride while the latter one capped off a thrilling stretch duel with Speedy Taxi, winning by a neck.
 
Cicada's Song, who is now 3-for-3, got her first two wins at Harrington in identical 2:01 1/5 times, the most recent of which came in a $20,000 Delaware state-bred event. She headlines the $43,075 final, which is a another non-bettor slated for a 12:00 Noon departure. Elton J, a Dusty Winner gelding, came to the Commonwealth fresh off a runner-up in the same series at Delaware. He is favored to repeat in the $46,150 championship. Jane Dunavant of Kenbridge, Virginia, owns the pair.   

John's Dream took advantage of an extended early pocket trip in the freshmen colt/gelding pace on prep weekend, cruised past front stepping Patrick's Day in deep stretch and earned a one length triumph in2:04 4/5. The Dream Away colt, who only faced a pair of competitors, is owned and trained by Chuck Perry, who also drove. John's Dream is early choice in the $44,700 finale.

Perry also guided Hot Jenna to victory in the two year old prep for filly pacers, which saw trainer Mark Gray's stable sweep the top three spots. That trio, which included runner-up Motel Molly and third place finisher Flying Pirate, provided the most exciting finish of the weekend and all return to compete for a $49,500 purse in Sunday's championship. Starting among a field of seven, just a nose separated Gray's group at the wire. Only two of the entrants, including runner-up Motel Molly, had made a start prior to Sunday. 

Gates open at 11 AM Sunday. Admission is $5 and included a program and tip sheet. Kids 12 and under are free. 

Darrell Wood
  

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