There are horses for courses and Hyway Marcus took advantage of this axiom by winning the first leg of the RUS MidAtlantic Monte Series in front of an appreciative audience at Ocean Downs Sunday.
Winning his seasonal debut under saddle, the 6 year old has a record of 3-2-1-0 at the resort track. The time of the mile was 2:02.1 over a fast track with Sasha Moczulski riding the Josh Green trainee to victory for winning owner Keith Pippi in the $5,000 tilt.
The six-horse field was reduced by one with the defection of Pine Tab who was scratched sick, leaving a field of five to contest the open leg.
When the gate opened, One True Friend (Hillary Hartnett) used the rail position to get away with Hyway Marcus challenging early while Admirable Hanover (Vanessa Karlewicz) took to the pocket for third. The riders of Keenan (Maria Buchanan) and Catalyst (Stephanie Jacobs) decided to race off the pace sensing a quick tempo developing.
By the time the horses hit the first station in :29.4, Hyway Marcus was racing on the outside with a one length lead. There was no change in position as the field hit the second station in :59.4 with Hyway Marcus extending his lead to three lengths.
While Hyway Marcus was holding strong, it was a question of when the trailing horses would make their moves and if they could catch the leader. Past the half-mile point of the race, One True Friend continued to race in second as Keenan kicked it into gear to take the third spot while Admirable Hanover dropped back to fourth and Catalyst remained in last but making up ground. The time at the third marker was 1:30.4.
At the top of the stretch it was clear Hyway Marcus was not to be denied; it was a race for second between Keenan and Catalyst as they worked their way down the stretch. Hyway Marcus maintained his 4 1/2-length lead to the wire while Keenan finished second, maintaining his 1 1/2-length lead over third place finisher Catalyst. One True Friend and Admirable Hanover finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
The fans were treated to a Meet and Greet before and after the race, with the riders just as excited as the fans, as they had a chance to talk to fans. Riders were happy to offer autographs to the fans in attendance. After the seventh race the riders joined in the t-shirt toss.
The second leg of the RUS MidAtlantic series will be contested at the Meadowlands on Saturday, Sept. 9, as additional horses are expected to join the chase to qualify for the final at Rosecroft Raceway on Sunday, Oct. 8. The final will be limited to the top nine horses point-wise who enter. Standings for the series are available on the RUS MidAtlantic website. (RUS MidAtlantic)