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COLUMBUS, MN. - The curtain fell on the 2014 season at Running Aces Harness Park on Saturday night, but not before eleven Minnesota State Champions were crowned. Leading driver and trainer awards were also presented before the capacity crowd on closing night.   Jason Ryan, a 26-year-old Prince Edward Island native, captured his first Minnesota driving title in just his second summer at Running Aces. The talented reinsman, headed to New York in the coming days, won the dash title with 90 wins during the 53-night meet to outdistance reigning champion Nick Roland, who finished second with 81 victories.   Tim Maier garnered his second straight training title at Running Aces, defending his 2013 championship with 35 winners. Five trainers still had an opportunity to win the hotly-contested title going into the final two nights. Steve Wiseman and Nick Roland deadlocked for second with 33 triumphs from their respective stables, while Dave Flinn and Jesse DeLong notched 32 winner's circle trips each.   Becky Badger Baby (Nick Roland) won the $20,000 Minnesota State Championship for two-year-old trotting fillies, despite a break in stride behind the gate. It was the fifth win in a dozen freshman starts for the tiny filly, owned by Dale Hein and Royal and Barbara Roland, who beat Al Mar Reba Babe (Gerry Longo) and Sweet Nola Kate (Brett Ballinger).   Moonshinenmonkeys (Rick Magee) upset stablemate Queen Of Denial (Nick Roland) and Dancin Debby (Jason Ryan) to earn the lion's share of the $20,000 two-year-old filly pace division. Mark King bred, broke and owns the champion filly who more than doubled her rookie season earnings with her second career win in 1:57.   Go See Lo Go (Nick Roland) continued his domination of the two-year-old trotting colts ranks with an easy 2:02.1 front-end score over Al Mar Skip Bo (Rick Magee) and Lunar Trouble (Dave Flinn). It was the ninth win in twelve starts and eighth in a row for the pride of the Lorenzo Gooch stable.   Toatsmygoats (Jason Ryan) was tons the best in the freshman pacing event, sailing to a 1:56 victory over Gooch's Hot Rod (Gerry Longo) and Holla At Ur Boy (Rick Magee). Now seven out of eight, all at Running Aces, the winner's share of the $20,000 purse pushed Toatsmygoats earnings to $47,000 for the Van Otterloo Stable.   Al Mar Pizzazz (Tim Maier) produced the only serious longshot win on the evening, shocking the three-year-old filly trotters at odds of 17-1. Trainer Ulf Holm-Johansen and partner Vern Devine was ecstatic with the 1:59.1 score, her fifth of the season but first against the best sophomore distaff trotters in the state. She's A Foxie Lady (John DeLong) was second with another longshot, Country Cheerio (Jason Ryan) getting up for third.   Delco Voracious (John DeLong) duplicated her 2013 Minnesota State Championship with a 1:54.3 clocking to capture the 2014 title. It was the tenth win in just 17 starts for Jesse DeLong's top filly who now has over $75,000 in earnings as she topped slightly-favored Flick A Fly (Rick Magee) by a nose with Dakota Law (Nick Roland) awarded the show dough.   Driver John DeLong was back in the winner's circle with his brother Ben's three-year-old trotting colt, Chewy Dunkerton, in the very next race. With 14 wins over two years of racing at Running Aces, the colt is rapidly approaching $100,000 in earnings. His 2:00.1 final time was just over a length better than T-U-R-B (Nick Roland) and Lo Rail Crossing (Gerry Longo).   Favored Bunkerhill Bill (Gerry Longo) did not disappoint in the $20,000 final for sophomore pacing colts. Gene Miller's homebred won for the third time in his most recent four starts, topping V Mack (Kim Pluta) and Black Hammer (Tim Maier) in 1:54.3.   Out of the former claiming mare River Bend Raider, who toiled at Running Aces for several years before heading to the breeding shed, Bunkerhill Bill has earned $45,285 thus far in his first season of racing. The final three races on the closing program were $10,000 events for aged Minnesota-sired horses.   Blazing Fury (Rick Magee) bested the pacing mares with a 1:54.4 success over stablemate Cheese Plumper (Tim Maier) and Place At The Beach (Kim Pluta). The Van Otterloo Stable owns the first two finishers and trainer Dave Flinn conditions all three of the top finishers.   Skeet Thunder (Kim Pluta) proved best in the division for older trotters, beating RA's Shakinthtbacon (Rick Magee) and No Recess (Brandon Jenson) in 1:59.3. Andrew Anfinson owns the winner.   The final race of the season went to Headsup Yankee (Nick Roland), who has enjoyed a very good season with a dozen top three finishes in 15 starts against top condition and open horses. Owned by the Trot-Away Stables, the five-year-old gelding paced away from I'm Blue Too (John DeLong) and Peanuts (Lemoyne Svendsen) to bring down the curtain on the 2014 Running Aces season.   From the Running Aces press box  

COLUMBUS, MN. - With the 2014 season rapidly winding down, R Gauwitz Hanover won the final weekly $8000 Open Pace at Running Aces on Sunday night.   There are just two overnight race programs left on Tuesday and Wednesday nights of the coming week, both at 7 p.m. (CST), then the curtain comes down on the successful 53-night summer session next Saturday night with the annual Minnesota State Championships card worth a total of $190,000 in purses. Post time for the special final 11-race program is 5:00 p.m. (CST).   Driver Rick Magee sat R Gauwitz Hanover fourth along the pylons until the head of the stretch, then found a seam of racing room and clocked a :27 final panel to just edge Headsup Yankee (Nick Roland) and Silver Spir (Jason Ryan) in 1:51.4. It was the fifth win at Running Aces for the five-year-old gelded son of Modern Art, three coming in open company. Laurie Patistas owns the classy gelding who will be returning to New York to race very shortly.   A handful of the leading drivers at Running Aces have agreed to join the groundswell of support the harness industry is showing for A.L.S. through the "Ice Bucket Challenge." Jason Ryan, Nick Roland, Steve Wiseman, Tim Maier, Kim Pluta, Gerry Longo and Lemoyne Svendsen have all agreed to make an ALS donation and get doused with a water bucket full of ice and water at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday night, just prior to the races.   From the press box at Running Aces

COLUMBUS, MN. - Running Aces Harness Park, now in its seventh season, established a new handle record on Sunday night when $270,252 was bet on the 11-race program which featured fuller-than-normal fields and highly competitive races.   Over one-half of the races were decided by a half-length or less and only one winner had more than a two length advantage at the wire.   Only two favorites prevailed on the night with win prices ranging from a low of $5.80 to a high of $21.80.   The weekly Sunday feature, a $10,000 Open Pace, was captured by Headsup Yankee in 1:52.3.   The five-year-old Minnesota-sired gelding has made steady progress since joining the open ranks three weeks ago, finishing third and then second before Sunday's victory.   The son of Relentless Yankee is owned by Ken Stauffer's Trot-Away Stable and was trained and driven by Nick Roland.   He beat Silver Spir (Jason Ryan) and Del Rio Seelster (Lemoyne Svendsen).   The win was one of four on the night for Roland, who also scored with Justthewayitis, Split Ticket and Gift Of Honor.   A Running Aces newcomer, Native's Revenge, shocked a group of conditioned horses and optional $5000 claimers with a nine-length dominating performance clocked in 1:51.4 for new trainer-driver Steve Wiseman.   A recent arrival from Hoosier Park, where the four-year-old Allamerican Native gelding was no better than fourth in his last six outings, Native's Revenge went directly to the lead in his initial Minnesota appearance and never looked back throwing an impressive :54 final half.   The winner, who beat Peanuts (Rick Magee) and Peyton's Troubador (Kim Pluta) is owned by Harold Actkinson.   Leading driver Jason Ryan visited the winner's circle three times on Sunday, guiding She's A Foxie Lady, Terror Time and R Gauwitz Hanover to narrow victories.   Only four weeks remain in the Running Aces season with live racing presented each Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday through August 30.   Gregg Keidel - Running Aces

COLUMBUS, MN. - Smarter Yet won for the third time in five tries in the weekly Running Aces' Open pace on Sunday night.   Kim Pluta guided the seven-year-old gelding for trainer Ron Merritt and owner Kevin St. Charles. It was the 37th lifetime win and raised Smarter Yet's career bankroll to $236,925. The noted closer used his usual strong stretch drive to catch Headsup Yankee (Nick Roland) and Silver Spir (Jason Ryan) in the final strides of the 1:53 mile.   Pluta also won a $7000 conditioned pace on the undercard with Restless Yankee, one of the best Minnesota-bred horses ever. Following the 1:53.4 victory, the Bob and Ryan Lems-owned son of Relentless Yankee now has 46 triumphs and $278,531 in earnings. He bested Dont Tell Rusty (Jason Ryan) and Mister Virgin (Nick Roland).   A $7000 trot mixing top condition horses with $10,000 claimers was captured by Axle (Kody Massey) with a narrow decision over Forceful Gale (Brian Detgen) and Flameon (Lemoyne Svendsen). The winner was claimed from owner-trainer George Reider by Daniel Maier.   For the third consecutive racing night, veteran Gerry Longo scored a driving triple on Sunday. Handle for the 11-race program was $201,791.   Gregg Keidel    

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