Day At The Track

Trainer confident going into Molson Pace

05:02 AM 28 May 2015 NZST
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Night Pro
Night Pro and Peter Wrenn a decisive winner

London, May 27, 2015 -- Michigan-based harness racing trainer Dale Decker has never been to The Raceway at The Western Fair District, but he’ll have a not-so-secret weapon on his side when his star five-year-old Night Pro goes to the gate Friday night from post four in the $150,000 Molson Pace. Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. will be in Night Pro’s sulky.

“He’s the leading dash driver in the country the last two years,” said Decker.

Make that the leading dash-winning driver in North America. Wrenn, Jr., 28, won the 2014 continental title with 847 wins and the 2013 crown with 714 victories. This year, Wrenn, Jr. currently sits a close second behind Aaron Merriman in North America with 330 wins. In just eight years in the bike, Wrenn, Jr. has already surpassed 2,500 career victories, most of that over the last four seasons.

The Ohio-based driver has made just one career start at The Raceway at The Western Fair District — a fourth-place finish driving Rock Bottom in an overnight in January of 2011.

Decker said he had to do a little convincing to get Wrenn, Jr. to give up his full slate of drives Friday at Scioto Downs in Columbus, OH to come to London, but thinks racing in the Molson Pace could be a good stepping stone to bigger races for the driver.

“He’s kind of got to make a decision if he wants to try to venture into the Grand Circuit ranks or just stay local,” Decker said.

Night Pro has proven to be a horse worth following on the stakes trail. In three years of racing, the son of former Ontario-based star Pro Bono Best out of Midnight Jewel has amassed over $500,000 in earnings and sports a startling record of consistency with 29 wins in 49 starts. The pacer has finished no worse than third in 84 per cent of his starts.

“He’s a true racehorse,” Decker said. “He’s the best one I’ve had, by far.”

Decker also owns and raised Night Pro, the 5-1 fourth choice in the Molson Pace, behind Confederation Cup winner All Bets Off (post 1, 8-5), two-time defending Molson Pace champ State Treasurer (post 8, 2-1) and Duc Dorleans (post 6, 9-2). The Molson Pace is race 12 in a promotion-packed night of racing at Western Fair. The first race post time is 7:15 p.m.

Last year, Night Pro regularly held his own racing against such star older pacers as Foiled Again, Sweet Lou, Clear Vision and Bettors Edge. He posted a record of 12-3-3 in 24 starts and earned over $230,000 racing in stakes in the Midwestern United States, close to Decker’s base close to Toledo, OH.

“I try to stay more local to where I’m at, within about a four-hour ship. Horse racing, even though I wish it was my full-time occupation, it’s not. So, time is limited,” said Decker, a residential home builder by trade. “Besides, (Night Pro’s) not the best shipper in the world, either. He’ll be sweating when I get (to Western Fair).”

Decker was the one that was sweating when he took Night Pro to the Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale in 2010 to be sold on behalf of breeder Linda Marckel. Night Pro is the second foal out of Midnight Jewel. Her first foal, Starzzz Of Jewel, sold for $40,000. When it came time for Night Pro to sell, there was little interest.

“I was in a state of shock at the sale,” Decker said. “I had no idea what I was doing. I’m not kidding you. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. The bidding stalled at $4,500. That’s when I jumped in… I did have the money to buy him. So, it wasn’t an issue. But I had plenty of horses and I was just trying to make (his breeder) some money. I ended up with him.”

The cost was $14,000.

“I had no idea I was going to end up with him because I didn’t want another horse. I already had a barn full. I didn’t want to spend $14,000 either, because I’d have to go home and explain that to my wife,” Decker said. “She wouldn’t let me sell him now.”

Though Night Pro is a bigger horse, Decker said The Raceway’s tight half-mile oval doesn’t concern him because his farm track is smaller than a half and Night Pro, “gets around here just fine… He’s pretty universal. That’s what’s nice about him. He can race any way and he can race on any size track.”

Fans will be able to enjoy all 12 races on the Friday card on a large infield video tote board that will feature an enhanced broadcasting coverage all night.

The Molson Pace card will offer betting patrons a cornucopia of wagering options. There’s a $7,500 guarantee on the early Pick 4 and the Super Hi-5, a $10,000 guarantee on the late Pick 4 and Super Hi-5 and a $2,500 guarantee on the Pick 3 offered in races one through three.

Other promotions include scratch and win programs giving patrons a one-in-six chance to win a prize, a guest horse outside the main entrance to greet fans, a raft of prizes and giveaways courtesy of Molson and the OLG and, throughout the night, fans can even take a spin around the track in a double-seated jog cart with the Wanna Ride team.

For more information, please visit: www.molsonpace.com.

Greg Blanchard

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