Mike 'The Mortgage Man' Mitchell closed another deal Monday night in second week of harness racing action in the Great Lakes Amateur Drivers Association summer series at Hazel Park Raceway in suburban Detroit.
In the opening week, the trot was in the slop but this weeks action took place on a beautiful east Michigan night and when the mile of 2.02.3 was concluded, it was deja vu as Mitchell and his mare Likaty were once again victorious. As the starter said 'Go' Mitchell, starting from the rail post position scooted for the lead but Steven Oldford guided the old warhorse Bumblebsbullwinkle past then and assumed command, giving Likaty the perfect two hole trip.
At the start, driver Denny Walton at the reins of Dream It Anyway tried leaving hard but made a wild break as did MHHA President Brett Boyds steed, Easter Holiday D. Jim Ingersoll did as he did a week ago and rode the rail until late behind Caballo Diablo, Kelly Walker driving Keep Your Shirt On from the far outside steered clear of the breakers and Bob Miller handling favored Lindy's Maestro, a John Kina trainee were well positioned in mid-pack.
Passing the stands for the first time, Miller was out and rolling first over with Lindy's Maestro and despite grinding it out a long way they took the lead turning for home. It appeared chalk players were going to be rewarded as Oldford and his horse were tiring and Miller had dead aim on the finish line....but then it was Mitchell who unleashed a furious stretch charge along the pylons and they took the lead to win by a head at 7-2 odds.
Jim Ingersoll with his own Caballo Diablo saved ground all the way and were quick at the end to finish third, just 3/4 of a length back of the winner. The amateur race featured a great stretch drive and an exhilarating finish! Bumblebsbullwinkle ended up 4th with Kelly Walker and Keep Your Shirt on fifth. Boyd ended up 6th and Walton after his adventurous trip played the role of this weeks caboose.
Everybody has to finish somewhere! The field for week two action was made a bit more compact as there were two scratches in the race. The driving vet, Dr. Michael Caston's horse, a Don Harmon trainee was scratched and Dale Zahn's SA Eldorado was scratched sick.
Mitchell has clearly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the series that benefits the charities of Hazel Park's choosing thanks to the declaration fees paid by each driver. GLADA members will compete on the Hazel Park program each Monday evening throughout the meet and it promises to be exciting week after week as these drivers want their picture taken in the winner's circle.
Amateurs in the series are drivers that have not taken compensation for their driving in the past 10 years and they must have earned a 'A' or 'P' license. The re-birth of GLADA and Amateur Racing in Michigan offers a refreshing change of pace to the regular racing program and Association members are hopeful that the series will be picked up by the other two harness tracks in Michigan, Northville Downs and Sports Creek Raceway.
Dale P. Zahn - Member U.S. Harness Writers Association