Scarborough Downs played host to the largest crowd of the 2011 racing season on Saturday as an enthusiastic throng flocked to the seaside oval on Kentucky Derby Day. They were also treated to an historic performance as Western Outfitter sped to a brand new track record for aged geldings, stopping the teletimer in a sizzling 1:53.2. That clocking surpassed the former standard of 1:54, established by Rodeo Du Ruisseau on Back to the Track day last season.
Shawn Gray, driving for owner David MacDonald of Halifax, Nova Scotia, sat the pocket trip behind the pace-setting Johnny Z (James Hardy), who led the pack to the half timed in a pedestrian :57.1. The paced picked up, then, in dramatic fashion with Johnny Z zooming to the three-quarters, timed in 1:25.1.
What started out as a rumble from the jam-packed apron turned into cheers as Western Outfitter pounced from the pocked to engage Johnny Z at the head of the stretch. Nose to nose, Western Outfitter and Johnny Z battled to the wire, with Western Outfitter, persevering in the tightest of photos as the teletimer proclaimed the record-setting accomplishment. Most impressive, though, was the manner in which Western Outfitter established the new standard, pacing his back-half in :56.1 in what might well be the fastest final half ever recorded at Scarborough Downs.
Western Outfitter’s performance represents the third-fastest mile ever recorded in the 61-year history of Scarborough Downs, bested only by Hotrod Falcon’s (Walter Case, Jr.) overall track record of 1:52.4 in 1993, and Shady Sabrina’s (Kevin Switzer) Distaff record of 1:53.1 in 2010.