Day At The Track

Plainridge opener to Keystone Dakota

12:24 PM 13 Apr 2021 NZST
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Keystone Dakota, harness racing Rock Diamonds N, harness racing
Keystone Dakota and driver Bruce Ranger
Tom Melanson Photo
Rock Diamonds N (#1) and driver Ron Cushing beat Sports Obsession
Tom Melanson Photo

Plainville, MA --- Plainridge Park's harness racing Trainer of the Year in 2020 wasted no time flexing her muscle on the opening day of the track's 2021 meet. Melissa Beckwith sent newly acquired Keystone Dakota to post in the $15,000 conditioned pacing feature for 5-year-olds and under and the son of Art Major - Keystone Dawn responded with a win and a new lifetime mark in his first start at Plainridge.

Despite drawing post eight in the full field of starters, driver Bruce Ranger sent Keystone Dakota right to the front and never looked back after clearing. With Wyatt J (Ron Cushing) sitting on his back, Keystone Dakota snapped off quarters of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:23.2 before rounding the last bend to head down the lane.

It was there Cushing pulled the right line on Wyatt J and got the big horse in gear, trying to chase down the leader. Although Wyatt J was able to make up some of the deficit in deep stretch, Keystone Dakota was just too much on this day and cruised home in :28.3 and stopped the timer in 1:52, which was a new lifetime mark.

KEYSTONE DAKOTA REPLAY

 

It was the second consecutive win for Keystone Dakota ($4.60) and owner/trainer Melissa Beckwith, who privately purchased the gelding on March 24 at Saratoga Raceway.

Beckwith and Ranger teamed up earlier in the day to win with Vodka On The Beach ($2.80), giving each a double on the card.

In the secondary featured $12,500 condition for male pacers, Rock Diamonds N (Ron Cushing) shipped in from Yonkers Raceway and scored his first win of the year after a gutsy effort from off the pace.

Rock Diamonds N got away third and watched as Sports Obsession (Drew Monti) led to the half in :55.3. Cushing pulled Rock Diamonds N at that station and quickly drew alongside the leader. Rock Diamonds N got a short lead on the outside but was not able to clear as Sports Obsession continued to fight. The two horses matched strides around the last turn and into the stretch and after pacing dead-even all the way to the wire, Rock Diamonds N finally wore down Sports Obsession and won by a head at the beam in 1:52.1.

Rock Diamonds N ($11.40) is owned by Kevin Sywyk and Ron Cushing and is trained by Heidi Gibbs.

Drivers Drew Monti, Greg Merton and Mike Stevenson all had three winners on the day as did trainer Scott Renz.

Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (April 15) at 4 p.m.

For full race results, click here.

By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

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