Betterlatethannever arrives late for victory
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Plainridge Park’s top driver and trainer combination of Shawn Gray and Jimmy Nickerson teamed up once again to score wins in the two featured races held at the Ridge on Monday afternoon.
In the $14,000 Winners-Over Handicap, Sir Pugsley tucked third from post seven off the gate while Opus Blue Chip (Drew Campbell) took the field to the quarter. But Gray rolled Sir Pugsley to the top past that station and would remain the pace-setter from there. After hitting the half in :55 flat, Mach Doro A (Ron Cushing) came calling first up and pushed Sir Pugsley to the three-quarters in 1:22.4 and continued to to be aggressive around the far turn and into the stretch. The pair continued to pace side by side all the way to the wire but Sir Pugsley held his advantage and won by three-quarters of a length in 1:51, which was a new seasonal mark.
It was the second win in a row, third of the year and 20th lifetime for the 5-year-old Sir Pugsley ($12.00) who has now earned $42,095 this season for owner Burke Racing Stable and Marc Reynolds.
Then in the $12,000 upper-level conditioned pace, the venerable campaigner Betterlatethannever got away eighth by almost 13 lengths and stayed there well past the half while Quick Shot (Drew Campbell) and Fernleigh Rebel A (Mitchell Cushing) battled relentlessly to the half in :53.3 and the three-quarters in 1:21.4. There Betterlatethannever started his outside trek around tiring horses, eventually tipping four deep heading into the lane where he barreled down the stretch to overtake the whole and win by a half-length in 1:51.1, which tied his seasonal best.
Betterlatethannever ($5.60) got his seventh win of the year and pushed his earnings to $63,772 for owners Nickerson Racing and David Glazer.
Those victories pushed Gray’s win total to 77 for the meet and Nickerson’s to 28, leaving them both ahead of their nearest categorical competitors by six wins.
With no unique winning ticket once again on Monday, the Wicked Hi-5 jackpot continues to grow. When live racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday, July 11, and they line up for the sixth race, the carryover pool for the Wicked Hi-5 will be another track record high of $32,332. Post time for the first race is 4 p.m. (Standardbred Owners of Mass.)