COLUMBUS, MN. - The curtain fell on the 2014 season at Running Aces Harness Park on Saturday night, but not before eleven Minnesota State Champions were crowned. Leading driver and trainer awards were also presented before the capacity crowd on closing night.
, a 26-year-old Prince Edward Island native, captured his first Minnesota driving title in just his second summer at Running Aces. The talented reinsman, headed to New York in the coming days, won the dash title with 90 wins during the 53-night meet to outdistance reigning champion , who finished second with 81 victories.
garnered his second straight training title at Running Aces, defending his 2013 championship with 35 winners. Five trainers still had an opportunity to win the hotly-contested title going into the final two nights. and deadlocked for second with 33 triumphs from their respective stables, while Dave Flinn and Jesse DeLong notched 32 winner's circle trips each.
Becky Badger Baby () won the $20,000 Minnesota State Championship for two-year-old trotting fillies, despite a break in stride behind the gate. It was the fifth win in a dozen freshman starts for the tiny filly, owned by Dale Hein and Royal and Barbara Roland, who beat Al Mar Reba Babe ( ) and Sweet Nola Kate ( ).
Moonshinenmonkeys () upset stablemate Queen Of Denial ( ) and Dancin Debby ( ) to earn the lion's share of the $20,000 two-year-old filly pace division. Mark King bred, broke and owns the champion filly who more than doubled her rookie season earnings with her second career win in 1:57.
Go See Lo Go () continued his domination of the two-year-old trotting colts ranks with an easy 2:02.1 front-end score over Al Mar Skip Bo ( ) and Lunar Trouble (Dave Flinn). It was the ninth win in twelve starts and eighth in a row for the pride of the Lorenzo Gooch stable.
Toatsmygoats () was tons the best in the freshman pacing event, sailing to a 1:56 victory over Gooch's Hot Rod ( ) and Holla At Ur Boy ( ). Now seven out of eight, all at Running Aces, the winner's share of the $20,000 purse pushed Toatsmygoats earnings to $47,000 for the Van Otterloo Stable.
Al Mar Pizzazz () produced the only serious longshot win on the evening, shocking the three-year-old filly trotters at odds of 17-1. Trainer Ulf Holm-Johansen and partner Vern Devine was ecstatic with the 1:59.1 score, her fifth of the season but first against the best sophomore distaff trotters in the state. She's A Foxie Lady (John DeLong) was second with another longshot, Country Cheerio ( ) getting up for third.
Delco Voracious (John DeLong) duplicated her 2013 Minnesota State Championship with a 1:54.3 clocking to capture the 2014 title. It was the tenth win in just 17 starts for Jesse DeLong's top filly who now has over $75,000 in earnings as she topped slightly-favored Flick A Fly () by a nose with Dakota Law ( ) awarded the show dough.
Driver John DeLong was back in the winner's circle with his brother Ben's three-year-old trotting colt, Chewy Dunkerton, in the very next race. With 14 wins over two years of racing at Running Aces, the colt is rapidly approaching $100,000 in earnings. His 2:00.1 final time was just over a length better than T-U-R-B () and Lo Rail Crossing ( ).
Favored Bunkerhill Bill () did not disappoint in the $20,000 final for sophomore pacing colts. 's homebred won for the third time in his most recent four starts, topping V Mack ( ) and Black Hammer ( ) in 1:54.3.
Out of the former claiming mare River Bend Raider, who toiled at Running Aces for several years before heading to the breeding shed, Bunkerhill Bill has earned $45,285 thus far in his first season of racing.
The final three races on the closing program were $10,000 events for aged Minnesota-sired horses.
Blazing Fury () bested the pacing mares with a 1:54.4 success over stablemate Cheese Plumper ( ) and Place At The Beach ( ). The Van Otterloo Stable owns the first two finishers and trainer Dave Flinn conditions all three of the top finishers.
Skeet Thunder () proved best in the division for older trotters, beating RA's Shakinthtbacon ( ) and No Recess (Brandon Jenson) in 1:59.3. Andrew Anfinson owns the winner.
The final race of the season went to Headsup Yankee (), who has enjoyed a very good season with a dozen top three finishes in 15 starts against top condition and open horses. Owned by the Trot-Away Stables, the five-year-old gelding paced away from I'm Blue Too (John DeLong) and Peanuts ( ) to bring down the curtain on the 2014 Running Aces season.
From the Running Aces press box