Mariah Wright, 25, wins 1st race in 1st drive
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Mariah Wright's first-ever drive became a memorable one as the 25-year-old Michigan native directed Star Chaser to a 2:03.4 victory in the Ohio Ladies Pace on Wednesday night at the Paulding County Fair.
"It was good. Nerve wracking for a bit but once I got to the gate the nerves went away," Wright told harnessracing.com on Thursday morning.
Wright sent Star Chaser to the lead from the outside post in the field of five. After relinquishing control past the half, she rallied her charge back for the half-length victory. At odds of 33-1, the 9-year-old son of Dontgetinmyway was the longest shot on the toteboard, returning $68 for a $2 win ticket.
"Actually, I had no intention of going to the front as the horse isn't very good on the front," said Wright. "The rail horse showed a couple of breaks so I wanted to get around him, but I really didn't want to be on the front. I floated out of there and I looked over and nobody was leaving so I ended up heading toward the front. Emily (Hay, with Royal Delta) came at the half and I let her go and that was really the perfect trip."
Wright claimed Star Chaser for $4,000 on March 1, 2015, at Balmoral Park. While her father, Michigan Hall of Famer Darrell Wright, had been training and driving, and she had been the caretaker, she took over the training duties prior to the Paulding race. It was Star Chaser's first win in 11 starts this year.
"When I came back to the winner's circle my dad asked me if I knew what my horse needed," she said with a laugh. "He said, ‘You know why he's finally good? He needed a good groom.'"
The celebration continued when Wright returned to the Indiana home she shares with fellow Michigander Jessica Otten. Actually, it only sort of continued as Otten was asleep when Wright got home shortly after midnight.
"When I got home Jessica had the living room decorated with balloons and streamers and a big board and that was pretty cool," she said. "But she was sleeping because we got home so late."
Star Chaser has now won 19 times in 160 career starts, with $129,350 in earnings. Star Chaser has six wins since being claimed by Wright, including a 1:54.2 effort in 2016 at Hoosier Park and a 1:56.3 score in 2017 at Red Mile, with $39,537 in earnings. His career best of 1:52.4 was set in 2013 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and equaled the following year at the Meadowlands.
"I waited three years to get him," remembered Wright. "I was stabled next to Ron Burke at Hoosier Park and I was looking for a horse at the time. I tried to buy him off Burke when he was four but he ended up sending him to the Meadowlands. When he came back he got claimed and went to a few other barns. I found him in the middle of winter when I was in Florida so I flew up and claimed him at Balmoral.
"He is a gorgeous horse and became the one I wanted. And he's a Dontgetinmyway out of a Keystone Raider mare so he has the Michigan connection."
Wright noted that while she now has one career victory, her dad has 5,013 trips to the winner's circle.
"I've got a long ways to go," laughed Wright, who is also on the verge of completing studies at Columbus State University with a double major in biology and business. "Dad told me to retire now so I could retired undefeated."