Cougar Bait completed his 2-year-old campaign in impressive style, winning four of his last five starts. But too many inconsistent outings and only one win this year led to him become catalog number 1575 in the Black Book at Harrisburg earlier this month. That is where Joel Wheeler cast the winning bid and brought the altered son of Western Terror home to Plainridge Park.
In his first start in his new barn, Cougar Bait certainly turned some heads as he went from dead-last to victory in a quarter mile in the $12,000 conditioned pace at The Ridge on Monday afternoon, setting a new seasonal mark for himself in the process.
Horses left four-deep off the gate and remained three-deep to the quarter before Beachchip Hanover (Chris Long) finally found the pylons. But as soon as he cleared, Forever Worth It (DT Sumner) was right at him and the two battled to the half in :56. As they motored up the backside, Forever Worth It packed it in and the outer flow that had formed behind him went three deep around. Third-over and still ninth in that grouping was Cougar Bait (Wally Watson).
In the far turn Beachchip Hanover was starting to tire, so everyone behind his had tipped out around him and Cougar Bait was widest of all; five deep and near the I-495 ramp. With horses coming from everywhere in the stretch, Cougar Bait was in the middle of the track pacing like a machine and simply blew by everyone to win by a half-length in 1:53.3 with a sharp :28.2 last quarter into a stiff wind. Six of the nine horses hit the wire within two lengths of each other.
Looking much like he did at the end of last year, Cougar Bait ($12.20) scored his second win of this year for new owner Wheeler and trainer Lisa Watson.
With the heavily favored Treasure Mach (Greg Merton) finishing fourth, Cougar Bait’s mild upset triggered a 9-2-7-6 Superfecta that paid an instant jackpot of $22,090.20.
In the co-featured $10,000 conditioned pace, Grand Galop Semalu (Shawn Gray) got a perfect two-hole trip behind BP Diet Food (Mike Stevenson) before shaking loose in the lane and outpacing Rooster Rabbit (Mike Eaton) to the wire to win by a half-length in 1:53.1.
William Mc Elvain Jr.’s Grand Galop Semalu ($9.80) scored his tenth win of the year for trainer James Dunn and has benefited the amount of $44,266 earned as a result of those outings.
Shawn Gray led all drivers on Monday with three wins on the card.