Day At The Track

So Nice! Tioga hat trick for Merton

03:36 PM 20 Aug 2016 NZST
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Superiorcourt So Nice
Superiorcourt gave Italian driver Otello Zorzetto one of his two wins in the Italian American Friendship Series events at Tioga Downs.
Fred Brown Photo
So Nice (inside, obscured Mike Merton up) prevails in Friday's co-featured $13,000 Mares Open 1 Pace.
Fred Brown Photo
Nichols, N.Y. -- Saratoga invader So Nice ($7.30) led a driving hat trick for Mike Merton on Friday (August 19) evening's 11-race harness racing card at Tioga Downs, holding off all comers in the co-featured $13,000 Mares Open 1 Pace.
 
The 6-year-old Ponder mare sprinted clear authoritatively from post 6 before reaching the first turn before controlling terms through early splits of :28 and :56.3. Up the far side, So Nice was forced to accelerate by 1-2 favorite Stacia Hanover (Mike Simons), whose first-over pressure prompted a :26.4 third quarter. So Nice withstood the challenge in kind, edging away at head-stretch and holding off a late bid from Heart Major (Jim Meittinis), who lunged from the pocket to just miss. So Nice prevailed by a neck over Heart Major in 1:51.3, while Shutthefrontdoor (Scott Coulter) rallied off stalling cover to save third.
 
Amber Buter trains 22-time winner So Nice for the Gene Oldford Farms, LLC, Steve Oldford, and Tyler Buter.
 
Merton also prevailed with Brandos Muscle Man ($4.30, 1:56.2) and Lisa On Top ($17.80, 2:00.1).
 
The $13,000 Open 1 Trot saw Prairie Fortune ($6.60) rally off cover to capture his fifth win in seven tries, drafting behind Its Payday Friday before vaulting three-wide at head-stretch and lifting to collar Swishnflick in 1:55. Jim Meittinis drove the 4-year-old Arapa Victory gelding for Mike Deters--who trains the 22-time winner--and Laurie Poulin.
 
A pair of Italian American Friendship Series events for amateur drivers were contested early on the card, and Otello Zorzetto swept them both. Zorzetto posted a gate-to-wire win with Gary Messenger trainee Superiorcourt ($5.30) in 1:58.2, and used more patient tactics to prevail with Surge Seelster ($5.60) in 1:55.3 for trainer Stacey McLenaghan.
 
Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (August 20) evening, with post time slated for 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
 
by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
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