Poker Champ and KJ Hannah, divisional runners-ups in last week's first leg of the Emergency Squads of Virginia Pacing Series, stepped up a notch and scored wins in Wednesday's second leg at Colonial Downs.
Mark Gray's Poker Champ came from almost three lengths back at the top of the stretch and passed two front-steppers en route a duel with KJ Anita to the wire. Crossing in a lifetime best 1:52.1, the 5-year-old Cam's Card Shark gelding edged Manley Brown's KJ Anita by a head. The winner, who was driven by Gray in the first of two $4,000 divisions, is owned by Anne McDonald LLC of Alexandria, Va.
In the other division, Jason Green's KJ Hannah scored a wire-to-wire victory in 1:54.2 for owner Scott Woogen. Last week, the sophomore filly pacer lost by a neck to Hillbilly Desire in 1:52.3. Hillbilly opted to compete in a conditioned race Wednesday instead of the late closer, so KJ Hannah took comfort in beating Mobil Big John, the other first leg division winner. John Wagner, who had a trio of wins on the card, piloted the winner to her fourth triumph of the year.
Wagner also scored with Beammeupscottie and Talent On Broadway. The 55-year-old reinsman entered action Wednesday with eight wins from Colonial's first four race days and a UDRS of .491. He even collected a training victory when provisional driver Garrett Mosher guided his pacing mare Rocks N Bagels to victory in the seventh race.
After betting favorites swept the first three races, "chalks” took a back seat for next five. The highlight of the five race upset streak was a $114.00 place price on #1 Custer's Last Stand in the fourth race and $2 trifecta payout of $1,783.80 in the fifth race.
Racing action continues at Colonial Downs with a ten race card Thursday at 1 PM.