CHF Elias proved that a straight line isn't always the path to glory Tuesday at The Meadows as he zigged and zagged his way to a 20-1 upset victory in the Walter Russell Memorial Pace.
The opening leg of the series for 3- and 4-year-old colts and geldings was conducted over three divisions, with Incredible Dragon and Really Lucky taking the other $11,250 splits. The series honors the memory of the late Walter S. Russell Jr., who was inducted into the Harness Hall of Fame in 2011 for his years of service as a judge.
CHF Elias' odyssey began down the backside, when he rushed up inside for Dick Stillings, only to find his way blocked. The 3-year-old Sharky Spur-Summer Smoke gelding found clearance in the two path but was stymied again in the final turn. Stillings guided him between horses in the stretch, and he broke his maiden in 1:56.2. Elusive Rainbow was second by a length, with Whyamigray third. Richard Perfido trains CHF Elias for Feetdontfailmenow Stable.
In the $18,000 Preferred Handicap Trot, Hava Kadabra made it three straight by converting a pocket trip to victory in 1:54.3 for Dave Palone, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Yannick Gingras. Austin's Jon Jon rallied for place, a half-length back, while early leader TSM Photo Bugger saved show. The 6-year-old Kadabra-Armbro Vixen gelding now boasts $410,920 in career earnings.
Palone drove four winners — including three for Burke — on the 15-race card, while Mike Wilder enjoyed a driving triple. (The Meadows)