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Atlanta, McWicked capture Hill, Ewart at Scioto

September 07, 2019
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Scioto Downs’ two signature races, named after track founder Charlie Hill and race secretary Jim Ewart, produced totally different outcomes. The Hill went to the favorite Atlanta while seven horses finished within a half-length on the wire in the Ewart, with the lukewarm choice McWicked getting the edge over Donttellmeagain and Western Fame, who finished in a dead heat for second.
 
Driver Yannick Gingras gave Atlanta a chance to recoup her owners’ $10,000 investment as a supplement to the $220,000 Charles Hill Memorial Trot at Scioto Downs Saturday night, and the 4-year-old mare delivered a track record 1:51.4 victory.
 
Ake Svanstedt was quick off the wings of the gate with Plunge Blue Chip, but Gingras directed Atlanta to the front, although she didn’t clear until the field passed in front of the stands the first time. After the :27 opening panel, Gingras was able to slow the tempo, reaching the half in just :56 (:29.4 second quarter). The leaders picked up the pace down the backstretch, with the first-over Guardian Angel As, fresh off his victory in the Maple Leaf Trotting Classic, stalking first-over after starting from post 8.
 
Atlanta broke the beam at the three-quarter mark in 1:24 and continued on with her work. Mission Accepted, driven by Chris Page, had been sitting right behind her in the two hole, but in the stretch drive the former Ohio champion drifted out, which allowed Plunge Blue Chip to use the passing lane. With her quick step, she made the finish close, but Atlanta prevailed in 1:51.4.
 
The time is a new Scioto Downs track record for 4-year-old trotting mares, lowering the old standard by more than a second.

Both Atlanta and Mission Accepted are trained by Ron Burke, who is pointing Atlanta to the October Yonkers International Trot.
 
When top star Lather Up was scratched sick from the Ewart, others suddenly thought they had a chance and drove accordingly. Gingras fired off the gate with the Burke-trained This Is The Plan, but so did Page with Filibuster Hanover, a 37-1 shot trained by Burke. Gingras yielded to Filibuster but quickly retook command.
 
After a :25.3 opening quarter, Scioto driving ace Dan Noble tipped Western Fame first-over and didn’t dally, pushing the pace to the half in :52.4. This Is The Plan and Western Fame matched strides down the Scioto backstretch, with neither giving an inch. That put the duo at the three-quarter mark in a 1:20.
 
The stretch drive reflected the sizzling pace as This Is The Plan began to struggle and horses were advancing from behind, among them McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year. With regular driver Brian Sears in the bike, McWicked kept digging and won the photo finish battle. The final time was 1:49, with the last quarter :29, a bit pedestrian for this group.
 
McWicked paid $6.20 to win. The horse's trainer, Casie Coleman, posted on Facebook after the race that he was almost scratched because of a recurring foot problem.
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