The explosion heard at Buffalo Raceway was the toteboard in Saturday night's (June 14) featured $10,500 Open Pace as What The Sheik pulled the $51.50 upset over long shots Salazar (13-1) and Western Alumni (23-1). The 7-8 exacta paid $592.00 and the 7-8-all trifecta $909.50.
A big reason for the huge prices was the fact that the rail-sitting and heavily-favored Best Ears (4-5) broke stride around the opening turn. After dropping back to eighth, Best Ears did manage to climb into second place in the lane but stalled as the the break took its toll. What The Sheik (David McNeight III) was more than 10 lengths behind past the opening quarter, but a slow, steady trip just before the half got the 7-year-old horse in contention.
The closers made their mark the final panel as What The Sheik rolled to a two-length edge while Salazar (Ron Beback Jr.) took second and Western Alumni (Jim McNeight) rallied for third place. The final time was 1:56.2 over the fast track.
What The Sheik (Western Hanover-Radiant Heiress) is owned by Mike Torcello and is trained by Gerry Sarama. It was his second win in eight starts and moved What The Sheik's earnings to $15,169 in 2014 and $367,500 lifetime.
In the semi-finals of the Spring Break Claiming Series, the field of eight is set for next Saturday night's $24,000 finale.
In the first division, FB Seelster (Shawn McDonough) went in 1:56.0 to capture the victory while in the second division, Bob's Alibi (Ray Fisher Jr.) went the mile in 1:57.0. Others advancing onto the finals include The Awful Truth, Always An Optimist, Sturgeon Seelster, Classic Camelot, Puppetandmee N and Ms. Luck.(Buffalo)