Rompaway Stacey drew the number two post in a field of six and she was sent off as the second favourite in a $10,400 Open at Northville Downs on Thursday night (February 12).
Rompaway Stacey captured the first Open Handicap Trot of 2004 at Northville Downs this past January 3.
It was a good start for the 7-Year-Old mare and gave the signal that she might be in for another solid year.
Last year she won over $60,000.
In her next three starts she got locked in, had broken equipment, and was caught in the stretch.
Reality had set in, but then last week she was back in the winner's circle.
The wagering honours went, surprisingly, to Mutual Funs, who started from the number three post.
He had finished second to “Stacey” in last week's Open, but he had a tougher trip.
As this one started, Mark Webster pushed Hollywood Joe aggressively around the first turn and did battle with Mutual Funs heading down the backstretch.
At the 28.2 second opening quarter, Hollywood Joe was on the front on the outside with Mutual Funs, driven by Eric Goodell, who was holding ground on the pylons in second position.
Don Harmon settled Rompaway Stacey into third.
Heading around the second turn, Webster placed Hollywood Joe behind Mutual Funs, who took the field to the half-mile in 1.00.
Rompaway Stacey continued along third and Kandy's LC, driven by Darrell Wright, started to move up from the back of the field.
Around the clubhouse turn, Kandy's LC continued to trot strongly and started to head for the front as the field went down the backstretch.
Mutual Funs has been racing off the pace in his recent starts, but this time Goodell was trying to win it on the front end.
Kandy's LC had won a non-winners event in mid-January but had not scored yet in Open competition this year.
Passing the 1.30.2 three-quarters, Kandy's LC flew past Mutual Funs and was two lengths to the good as they entered the final turn.
Mutual Funs had 20 in the money finishes in 31 starts last year and he is a 6-Year-Old who is now really learning how to trot.
He didn't give up the game and regained command as he moved around the final turn.
Down the backstretch, Buckeye Begonia and Wally McIlmurray Junior had come up from fourth and had been followed by Rompaway Stacey.
Entering the stretch, Buckeye Begonia was third, but just 1 ½ lengths off of Mutual Funs.
Kandy's LC was second, but she was starting to fade.
Rompaway Stacey was still fifth but she was swinging wide and was just a few lengths off of the front.
Down the stretch, Mutual Funs stayed tough and Buckeye Begonia and Rompaway Stacey came on strongly, but in the end, Rompaway Stacey, who has a lifetime mark of 1.54.2, had the most stuff and won it in a time of 2.02.2.
Buckeye Begonia finished a ½ length back and Mutual Funs was ¾ of a length off the winner.
Tom Smith's Rompaway Farms, Inc. of Battle Creek, Mich. is the breeder and owner of Rompaway Stacey, a lifetime winner $375,345 who is by NV Worthy and out of Rompaway Elaine.
Don Harmon trains.
Courtesy Of Dan Conway, United States Trotting Association Web Newsroom Correspondent