Day At The Track
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Veteran pacer Betterlatethnnever (Western Terror) has been a winning machine over the course of the last several years. The Jimmy Nickerson-trained pacer got his career off to a late start but once he started, he has never stopped. On Saturday night at Saratoga Raceway, the ten year old was the longest shot on the board in the evening's $15,000 Open Pace with reinsman Mitch Cushing in the sulky. After the race's favorite traveled unopposed on the lead in a first half in 56 seconds, he faltered heading to three quarters and a host of closers swallowed up the favorite around the final turn. Betterlatethnnever closed with a power surge on the far outside and emerged victorious after a scramble in the stretch, stopping the timer in 1:53.1 to record the upset at odds of 9-1. The win was the tenth of the season for the Nickerson trainee and though it was the first in the local Open in 2019 for Betterlatethnnever, it wasn't his first career victory in a Saratoga Open. Back in the '17 season at the age of eight, Betterlatethnnever won an Open in a career-best 1:50.1, a mark that still stands as a lifetime mark for the classy pacer. Century Endeavor (Gerry Mattison) finished second in the Saturday feature while Lord Willoughby A (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. Betterlatethnnever paid $21.20 to win and led an exacta and triple in the six-horse feature that returned $110 and $307.50, respectively. The Open win was the first at Saratoga in the young career of driver Mitch Cushing. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at the Spa with a matinee beginning at 12 Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Plainville, MA --- Plainridge Park's top harness racing driver and trainer combination of Shawn Gray and Jimmy Nickerson teamed up once again to score wins in the two featured races held at the Ridge on Monday Afternoon (July 8). In the $14,000 Winners-Over Handicap, Sir Pugsley tucked third from post seven off the gate while Opus Blue Chip (Drew Campbell) took the field to the quarter. But Gray rolled Sir Pugsley to the top past that station and would remain the pace-setter from there. After hitting the half in :55 flat, Mach Doro A (Ron Cushing) came calling first up and pushed Sir Pugsley to the three-quarters in 1:22.4 and continued to to be aggressive around the far turn and into the stretch. The pair continued to pace side by side all the way to the wire but Sir Pugsley held his advantage and won by three-quarters of a length in 1:51, which was a new seasonal mark. It was the second win in a row, third of the year and 20th lifetime for the 5-year-old Sir Pugsley ($12.00) who has now earned $42,095 this season for owner Burke Racing Stable and Marc Reynolds. Then in the $12,000 upper-level conditioned pace, the venerable campaigner Betterlatethannever got away eighth by almost 13 lengths and stayed there well past the half while Quick Shot (Drew Campbell) and Fernleigh Rebel A (Mitchell Cushing) battled relentlessly to the half in :53.3 and the three-quarters in 1:21.4. There Betterlatethannever started his outside trek around tiring horses, eventually tipping four deep heading into the lane where he barreled down the stretch to overtake the whole and win by a half-length in 1:51.1, which tied his seasonal best. Betterlatethannever ($5.60) got his seventh win of the year and pushed his earnings to $63,772 for owners Nickerson Racing and David Glazer. Betterlatethannever Those victories pushed Gray's win total to 77 for the meet and Nickerson's to 28, leaving them both ahead of their nearest categorical competitors by six wins. With no unique winning ticket once again on Monday, the Wicked Hi-5 jackpot continues to grow. When live racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (July 11) and they line up for the sixth race, the carryover pool for the Wicked Hi-5 will be another track record high of $32,332. Post time for the first race is 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts      

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