Canada's first race of 2014 was won by five-year-old pacer Art The Third and driver Brad Watt on Wednesday afternoon's New Year's Day harness racing card at Fraser Downs.
Art The Third sprinted home off a three-hole trip in the $3,000 claiming event to edge out the popular pacesetter Dontmakemebeg and Fraser's 2012 leading driver Jim Marino by half a length in 1:58.3 over the sloppy track. Pocket-sitter This American Life finished nearly four lengths behind in third for Carl Sibiga.
Sent postward as the slight 3-2 second choice, Art The Third paid $5.20 to win. Allan Molloy trains the Mach Three gelding for local owner Bryan Buchanan.
Watt swept the first two races after steering four-year-old pacer McBenz ($7.60) to his maiden-breaking victory in another close call for trainer and co-owner Ann Cooper.
Prairie Illusion ($3.50) later won the first Open event of the New Year with Marino in the sulky.
Prairie Illusion advanced first over from third en route to her 21st career win in the featured $10,500 Fillies & Mares Open. The 3-5 favourite prevailed by one length over a from-last Credit Card Junkie and Keith Clark in 1:55.3. Village Janus and Rod Therres came in third. Call Me Up, driven by four-time Wednesday winner Billy Davis Jr., finished fourth after leading through fractions of :28, :57.2 and 1:25.4.
Prairie Illusion won 11 of her 21 starts last year while banking over $70,000. The first win of her five-year-old campaign pushed her career bankroll over the $150,000 mark.
The Mach Three mare is owned and trained by William Young of Langley, B.C.
To view Wednesday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Wednesday Results - Fraser Downs.
Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca