Drew Campbell, a perennial power house at Scarborough Downs, secured career driving victory number 3,500 at the seaside oval on Sunday (June 29). Heading into the day, Campbell needed two wins to reach his latest milestone and quickly got on the winning stride, grabbing one of the victories in the second race with a gate-to-wire performance behind the pacing mare, Saturday Night Dancer. Campbell then had to fret the afternoon away, waiting until the 12th and final dash before tasting victory once again.
"When I looked at today's card, I had thought I had a pretty good shot in the last race to hit it,” said Campbell, who was met in the winner's circle by a crowd of cheering fans and horsemen. "But, honestly, I really have to tip my hat to the guys who get 4,000 or 5,000 wins. Man, it's a lot of hard work.”
Campbell's benchmark win came with the Adrian Wisher-trainee It Hurts Me, who won in typical front-running fashion, Campbell's trademark tactic. This strategy is so familiar to the local fans that his license plate on his truck proclaims, ISENDEM.
At Running Aces in Minnesota on Sunday, driver Nick Roland reached the 1,000-win plateau when he guided 11-year-old Mac T's Diamond to a 1:55 score in the third race. The 31-year-old reinsman is a third generation horseman, honing his talents on the Iowa county fair circuit before moving to Running Aces when it opened just over six years ago. A perennial leading driver, he finally broke through in 2013 and is the reigning dash champion at the Minnesota five-eighths mile oval.
The milestone win was Roland's 24th of 2014 and first of three on the Sunday program. He also triumphed with Chewy Dunkerton in a $13,000 event for Minnesota-sired three-year-old trotters; and with Headsup Yankee in a $6,500 conditioned pace.
Smarter Yet, making his Running Aces debut, captured the $9,500 Open Pace for owner Kevin St. Charles, trainer Ron Merritt and driver Kim Pluta. The seven-year-old Western Maverick gelding now has 35 lifetime wins and career earnings of $223,225. Pluta had the winner positioned next-to-last in the early going, but began a second-over journey in the outer flow approaching the halfway point. Moving up steadily through fractions of :27, :55.4 and 1:24.2 Smarter Yet closed with a final panel of :27.4 to win in 1:52.4. Overlooked at odds of 25-1, Smarter Yet paid $53.40 for a $2 win ticket. Second and third place finishers R Gauwitz Hanover (Rick Magee) and Restless Yankee (Nick Roland) completed exacta and trifecta tickets worth $539.20 and $2,839.80 respectively.
The Open pace has been highly competitive at Running Aces through the first five weeks of the 14-week schedule with five different horses winning the weekly feature thus far. Handle on the ten-race card was $189,848.
In other news from Scarborough Downs, the Maine Sire Stakes 3-year-old colt division made its second appearance of the year on Sunday. Pembroke Newt (Heath Campbell) grabbed victory in the first of three divisions, scooting up the inside path to secure the win and grab the lion's share of the $10,089 purse. The son of Neutralize is owned by William Varney of Bangor, Maine and trained by Valerie Grondin.
Alittlebitcountry (David Ingraham) was second, while David the Saint (Mark Athearn) was third, beaten just half a length.
Drama King (Dan Deslandes) remained undefeated on the season, grabbing his second consecutive stakes victory in convincing fashion. The son of B Dramattic, owned by James Smallwood of Windsor, Maine, paid a generous $15.40 to win in the $10,316 split. Zip It (Kevin Switzer) was second; Dansan Clyde (Kevin Switzer, Jr.) was third.
Fast Del (Gary Mosher) last season's freshman champion, regained the winning stride in the $10,314 third flight. Sent to the gate as the bettor's choice, the son of Fast Company is owned by Ben Bill & Will Stable of Carmel, Maine. Blackmalin (Greg Bowden) recovered from last week's disastrous trip to score runner up honors, while Whip Chaser (John Nason) was third.
(Scarborough Downs & Running Aces press releases)