Blazing temperatures matched the competition on Monday evening as eight eager harness racing amateurs faced the starter at Hazel Park Raceway.
But it was all go, go, go for eventual winner Richard Roach, driving Mylittlej, a 7-year-old mare by, for trainer Jeff Pickvet. Roach shot away from the gate to lead the pack at the quarter mark of :28.3. The eight hole didn't stop Y F Crasher, with Zaim Cunmulaj aboard, from driving second at the quarter, and Forest Heights, in rein to Christina Kennedy, raced along in third.
Y F Crasher led the way at the half in :58.4 with Roach and Kennedy trying to stay with him. But by the three-quarter pole Kelly Walker drove his own Howmuchubench three-wide, sweeping around the turn and trying for the top as the trotters turned for home.
The evenly rated race became a charge for the money as the trotters surged to thrust noses or necks in front at the finish line. Positions shifted back and forth as the drivers urged their horses toward home, and the camera flash caught Roach and Mylittlej back in front for the win. Kelly Walker got up for the place dough, and Y F Crasher was right there for third.
Following race five, a solemn group of amateur and professional drivers, friends and associates of the late assistant race secretary Dennis Walton gathered in the winner's circle to honor the contributions Walton made to Hazel Park, to youth development and his large role in establishing the amateur racing program at Hazel Park.
The Great Lake Amateur Drivers' Association will race on without his support, but he will be greatly missed.
by Patricia Miller, for the Great Lakes Amateur Drivers' Association