Day At The Track

18th Progress Pace - Dover Downs top event

01:56 AM 27 Nov 2013 NZDT
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Heston Blue Chip, harness racing
Heston Blue Chip won the 2012 Progress Pace

DOVER, Del. --- The 18th renewal of the $400,000 (est) Progress Pace at Dover Downs is the highlight of the first full month of the track's 45th season. The Progress Pace is the signature event of the 2013 Dover Downs' "Novemberfest of Racing."

The Progress Pace features the sport's leading three-year-olds in training in a two-week event. First, a $35,000 elimination division on Nov. 10 with the top eight finishers return for a $284,160 final on Nov. 17. Vegas Vacation, driven by Brian Sears, scored a 1:48.3 victory in this year's Matron Final. The gelding was favorite for the Progress Pace elim., but did not come out of the Matron, "100 percent," thus was scratched. Twilight Bonfire, a 20-1 longshot from post 8 with Tim Tetrick driving, pulled a major surprise in the $35,000 elim by nipping Sunshine Beach by half a neck.

The Progress Pace Final on Dec. 1 is the richest race in Delaware harness racing this year.

Progress Pace history
The Progress Pace was created by Dover Downs' CEO Denis McGlynn in the fashion of a former state of Delaware sports' tradition - The Battle of the Brandywine - formerly the showcase event of ill-fated Brandywine Raceway.

Over the years, Most of the sports leading drivers, owners and stables have participated in the Progress Pace. Hall of Fame drivers include three-time winners John Campbell and Ron Pierce, Mike Lachance, Cat Manzi, Dave Palone and David Miller. Luc Ouellette also drove three winners while Bret Pelling trained three Progress Pace champions.

Sampson Street Stable has shared in three Progress Pace champions, Newman Racing is the only other with more than one winner.

The first Progress Pace was carded in 1996 with a $100,000 final. The winner was Armbro Operative, owned by Tom Walsh, Jr. and Dave McDuffy, driven by Mike Lachance. It was the first of three Progress Pace winners conditioned by Brett Pelling. Pelling also trained the winners of the next two winners of the event, when Dream Away, owned by Canadian horsemen Marvin Katz, Sam Goldband and Al Libfeld won the 1997 edition and Crown Jewel Stable's Browning Blue Chip took 1998 laurels. Both winners were driven by John Campbell.

Luc Ouellette drove Jeff Snyder's Royalflush Hanover to his first Progress Pace titles. The gelding overtook Grinfromeartoear on the backstretch and pulled off to win the 1999 title.

The following season, Ouellette came back to drive 2000 winner Powerful Toy, owned by Newman Racing Stable, Sampson Street and Dodge A Bullet stables.

Ron Pierce made the winner's circle in the 2001 event driving Peruvian Hanover for owners Sidney Korn and Alvin Jacobson.

Art Major beat stablemate McArdle to win the 2002 edition. Owned by Deena Frost, Jerry Silva, Sampson Street and TLP stables, Art Major was the third Progress Pace champion driven by John Campbell,

In 2003, for the second straight year and third time in Progress Pace history, Radar Sign, a colt owned in part by Sampson Street Stable and Newman Racing Stable, driven by Ouellette, won the final.

The 2004 winner was longshot Holborn Hanover, with George Brennan driving for trainer Mark Harder and owners John Fielding and Canamerica Capital Corp. Holborn Hanover became the first sub-150 Progress Pace winner posting a come-from-behind 1:49.3f victory.

In 2005, Gryffindor, became the first Delaware-owned and trained winner. After being purchased by Three Point Acres in time to win the Messenger Stake at Harrington Raceway, the sophomore won the 10th Progress Pace wire-to-wire in 1:50 with David Miller in the sulky. The purse was the event's all-time highest, $394,120.

Another Delaware owned and conditioned colt, Total Truth, was the 2006 Progress Pace champion. The colt owned by Only Money and Teague Inc., the first of two straight for Hall of Fame driver Ron Pierce.

Pierce returned to take 2007 Progress Pace in upset fashion. Trained by Robby Siegelman for The Cheyenne Gang, Ghee House rolled down the lane for a 1:50.4 upset victory to take the 12th edition.

In November 2008, overlooked at 32-1, Cat Manzi drove Bettor Sweet to a surprise 1:52.1f victory, the second richest Progress Pace boasting a $390,000 purse. Two locally owned horses Rudy Rednose and Badlands Nitro, both trained by George Teague, finished second and third respectively.

Vertical Horizon and Jim Morrill Jr. were the winning 1:50.4 team, for the 2009 edition.

In 2010, Yannick Gingras guided Rockin Image to an impressive 1:50.3 victory.

The 2011 winner was Westwardho Hanover, a 1:49.1 performance piloted by Dave Palone.

Heston Blue Chip completed an outstanding Fall campaign to win the 2012 Progress Pace with Tim Tetrick in the bike, in event winning time of 1:49.

Progress Pace Champions
Year Purse Winner (Driver) Win Time
1996 $100,000 Armbro Operative (Mike Lachance) 1:53f
1997 $100,000 Dream Away (John Campbell) 1:54f
1998 $225,000 Browning Blue Chip (John Campbell)1:51.2f
1999 $225,000 Royalflush Hanover (Luc Ouellette) 1:51.2f
2000 $228,000 Powerful Toy (Luc Ouellette) 1:52.1f
2001 $337,100 Peruvian Hanover (Ron Pierce) 1:52.3f
2002 $335,000 Art Major (John Campbell) 1:51f
2003 $350,060 Radar Sign (Luc Ouellette) 1:51.4f
2004 $345,900 Holborn Hanover (George Brennan) 1:49.3f
2005 $394,120 Gryffindor (David Miller) 1:50f
2006 $348,900 Total Truth (Ron Pierce) 1:52.2f
2007 $350,900 Ghee House (Ron Pierce) 1:50.4f
2008 $390,000 Bettor Sweet (Cat Manzi) 1:51.2f
2009 $350,000 Vertical Horizon (Jim Morrill Jr.) 1:50.4f
2010 $320,000 Rockin Image (Yannick Gingras) 1:50.3f
2011 $330,000 Westwardho Hanover (Dave Palone) 1:49.1f
2012 $270,000 Heston Blue Chip (Tim Tetrick) 1:49f

- event record

by Marv Bachrad for Dover Downs
 

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