For the second consecutive year, a three-year-old pacing colt trained by Keith Clark was an upset winner in Northlands Park's signature $75,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby.
Driven by Philip Giesbrecht, Bettor In The Bank pulled off a 17-1 upset in Saturday night's stakes race. Clark also won the 2012 edition with Gerry Hudon driving 18-1 longshot Sharkalucchi.
With the inside post advantage, elimination winner Big N Bad (Jim Marino) won an early duel with Tip Top Tap (Rod Hennessy), who eventually retreated to the two-hole during the :27.3 opening quarter.
Big N Bad then led the field to the half in :56.4 before facing a new challenge. Beren Hanover (Keith Clark), the favoured Clark starter after his elimination win, advanced first over from fourth with stablemates Bettor In TheBank and 26-1 longshot American Venture (Gerry Hudon) following his cover.
Beren Hanover matched strides with second choice Big N Bad as they passed three-quarters in 1:25.4, but Giesbrecht had Bettor In The Bank ready to roll three-wide in the final turn.
Bettor In The Bank charged by the duelling pair and opened up down the lane to win by two lengths in 1:55 over the frozen track. American Venture chased him home for second to complete a sweep of the top two spots for Clark. Big N Bad held on for third.
"When the gate sprung I knew Big N Bad would be leaving hard and Keith took back so I said that's my chance to follow him," said Giesbrecht in a post-race interview. "And I knew if I got a trip out there that little horse, he can pace very fast for an eighth of a mile. He's a very fast little horse.
Bettor In The Bank was a runner-up to Beren Hanover in their elimination after sprinting home for the back of the field. He paid $37.80 to win the final.
"Beren Hanover, Big N Bad and all those other horses, they're all good horses," noted Giesbrecht. "But that little horse, when I tipped him four-high last time, he really showed me he can go."
Bettor In The Bank wrapped up a stakes-winning weekend for Clark and co-owner Robert Jones of Slave Lake, Alta., who also celebrated an upset victory in Friday night's companion filly event, the $75,000 Northlands Filly Pace. Gerry Hudon drove Contesta Hanover to a 1:56.3 triumph at long odds of 29-1.
"When it rains it pours," laughed Jones in the winner's circle. "It was a fantastic weekend and I've got to congratulate Keith again for getting these ponies ready to go. And they were great drives by Gerry last night and Phil tonight. It's terrific!"
Clark and Jones share ownership of Bettor In The Bank with Calgary's Verne Rea. The Alberta-sired Bettor Tuwin colt, who went unraced as a freshman, now sports a career record reading 8-4-2 in 20 starts with earnings soaring to over $70,000.
In this week's $9,000 Open Pace, Smooth Criminal and trainer/driver Bill Tainsh Jr. rebuffed a challenge from Cowboy Caper (Kelly Hoerdt) en route to a 1:55.1 triumph. The four-year-old Blue Burner gelding was making his first start from the Tainsh barn for owners Willie Wychopen of St Paul, Alta. and Edmonton's Walter Moroz. The favoured pocket-sitter, Who Doesnt (Travis Cullen), finished second while Playbook (Keith Clark) came on for third.
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Northlands Park
Reprinted with permission from www.standardbredcanada.ca.