Columbus, MN – Nine Ways was back in harness racing action at Running Aces on Sunday (Aug 4) making his first appearance since becoming the first two time Dan Patch FFA champion on July 21. The Standardbred star of the Tim Maier barn was sent to post as the 3-5 favorite from his assigned nine post in the featured $16,000 Open Handicap Pace.
Nine Ways served notice right away that he was playing with his "A" game yet again, firing hard from the far outside and overtaking Firedrake (Nick Roland) for the early lead through a speedy first quarter (:26.2). Dean Magee kept his pacer rolling through the middle stages (:54.4 and 1:22.4) while turning away a strong challenge from Top Notch (Joe Casagranda), who ultimately slipped into the pocket in front of Firedrake.
Nine Ways continued to pace strong as they rounded for home and Firedrake was raging with pace and looking for room, and surging along the inside. Nine Ways ($3.40) easily kept Firedrake at bay to the wire, getting home 1-1/2 lengths ahead of his top rival in 1:51.3 for his seventh straight win, and remaining unbeaten in six local starts this summer. A strong battle for third between late closers Annihilator and Fox Valley Nemitz resulted in a dead heat for that spot.
Nine Ways is a 5 year old Delmarvelous prodigy, out of the Cam's Card Shark mare Nine of Hearts. He now shows 10 wins in 28 starts this year, with $125,860 in seasonal earnings. The winning owner is Antonia Storer.
The $14,000 Open Handicap Trot event went to Winning Lyric this week, who swept the 6 horse field from last to first from post six. Dean Magee was unhurried in the early stages with Winning Lyric, while My Uncle Cuz posted all of the fractions, and French Eclipse was in the pocket. The fractions were sensible (:28.1, :57.2 and 1:26.2).
My Uncle Cuz (Don Harmon) remained strong into the homestretch, but Winning Lyric and Pridecrest (Steve Wiseman) were both charging hard on the outside. Winning Lyric ($4.80) got his nose to the wire first in the 1:55 mile delivering as the race favorite for his third win in ten starts this season. The winning owner is Terrence Smith, and the winning trainer is Edward Hernandez.
Driver Dean Magee posted a Grand Slam of four wins on the card, and swept both feature races. Rick Magee picked up a driving double.
Live Racing returns to Running Aces on Tuesday (August 6) with local post time at 7 pm, and a carryover in the 20 cent Pick-5 Jackpot of $6,252.81.
By Darin Gagne for Running Aces
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