Smooth Criminal and trainer/driver Bill Tainsh Jr. took top honours in this week's $9,000 Open Pace at Northlands Park, holding off repeat winner Who Doesnt and keeping O'Brien Award nominee Travis Cullen's win count at five for the night.
Slight favourite Smooth Criminal ($4.40) tracked Gts Jake and Brandon Campbell through fractions of :28.2, :58.3 and 1:26.3 before wearing him down in the stretch over the 'good' surface. Who Doesnt unleashed a :28.3 closing kick off cover in search of his third win in a row, but came up half a length short and had to settle for runner-up honours this week. The winning time was 1:55.3. Timberline Court and Gerry Hudon finished third.
Smooth Criminal is owned by Willie Wychopen of St Paul, Alta. and Edmonton's Walter Moroz. The five-year-old Blue Burner gelding, who put together a record reading 5-4-4 from 22 starts last season, has been named an Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Award finalist in the Champion Aged Horse/Gelding division along with Trust The Artist and Flak Jacket.
As for the hot-handed Cullen, he ended the night with all of his starters earning cheques -- five wins, three seconds and one fifth-place finish -- leaving him with an impressive 0.547 training average two and a half weeks into the 2014 racing season.
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Northlands Park.
Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca