Day At The Track

Cushing wins five, including Plainridge feature

05:42 AM 17 Sep 2019 NZST
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Starznheaven, harness racing
Starznheaven with Mitchell Cushing in the sulky, one of Cushing's five winners on the afternoon
Tom Melanson photo

Plainville, MA --- Plainridge Park's leading driver Mitchell Cushing exhibited why he's at the top of the harness racing charts this year after winning five races on the 11-race card at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Sept. 16).

The highlight of the afternoon was a sharp come-from-behind score with Starznheaven in the $14,000 Winners-Over pace that was the feature race of the day.

Starznheaven tucked fourth off the gate while Captain Deo (Nick Graffam) and Opus Blue Chip (Kevin Switzer Jr.) slugged it out to the quarter in :25.4 before Switzer relented and took a seat. Everyone used the next eighth of a mile to take a breath and catch up, but before the :54 half Fernleigh Rebel N (Shawn Gray) and Starznheaven started up again and moved in the outer flow.

About halfway up the backstretch Fernleigh Rebel N stalled, forcing Starznheaven to go three-wide to not loose touch with the leader. Starznheaven got around the fader but Opus Blue Chip pulled out under him before he could slide back down and kept him wide right into the stretch. Heading down the lane they were three across the track; Captain Deo, Opus Blue Chip and Starznheaven. All three were game and driving but Starznheaven had more at the end and grabbed a one-length victory in 1:50.3.

The time was a new seasonal mark for the winner.

Starznheaven ($4.00) got his seventh win of the year and increased his cash flow to $70,221. Lifetime he now has 44 wins and $397,763 banked.

Marc Reynolds, Scott Dillon and Bradford Veilleux own the 7-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven-Dancinwiththestarz that is trained by Jimmy Nickerson.

Cushing rounded out his piloting pentafecta with Ramblin Art (1:54.1, $3.40), I Am Golden (1:54, $4.00), Stone Fire Hanover (1:53.3, $5.40) and Cruizing Hill (1:53, $3.40). Today's victories give Cushing 125 wins for the year and a commanding 21-win lead over Drew Campbell (104) and Shawn Gray (102) for year-end driving honors.

In the third leg of the $10,000 Wood End Light series for 2-year-old trotters, George Ducharme's Massachusetts-bred Life Is A Feast (Royalty For Life-Luau Hanover) scored a major upset when he pulled from third at the half, went to the front and proceeded to annihilate the field with a 14-length romp in 1:56.4. It was the first career win and a lifetime mark for him, but was also just one-fifth of a second off the 1:56.3 track record set by another Mass-bred, Hashtagmadeyalook (Chapter Seven-Royalty Free) in 2017.

Life Is A Feast ($22.40) who was driven by Howard Parker, is owned by Al Ross and Paul Fontaine, and was bred by Karen Carroll. He is also eligible to the $1.8 million (est.) Massachusetts Sire Stakes that get underway at Plainridge Park on Sunday (Sept. 29).  

Live racing at Plainridge Park resumes on Thursday afternoon (Sept. 19) at 2 p.m. and there will be a $34,944 carryover pool for the Wicked Hi-5 wager in the sixth race.

By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts
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