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So Nice part of driving hat trick for Merton

August 20, 2016
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Saratoga invader So Nice ($7.30) led a driving hat trick for Mike Merton on Friday (August 19) evening's 11-race card at Tioga Downs, holding off all comers in the co-featured $13,000 Mares Open 1 Pace.
 
The 6-year-old Ponder mare sprinted clear authoritatively from post 6 before reaching the first turn before controlling terms through early splits of :28 and :56.3. Up the far side, So Nice was forced to accelerate by 1-2 favorite Stacia Hanover (Mike Simons), whose first-over pressure prompted a :26.4 third quarter. So Nice withstood the challenge in kind, edging away at head-stretch and holding off a late bid from Heart Major (Jim Meittinis), who lunged from the pocket to just miss. So Nice prevailed by a neck over Heart Major in 1:51.3, while Shutthefrontdoor (Scott Coulter) rallied off stalling cover to save third.

Amber Buter trains 22-time winner So Nice for the Gene Oldford Farms, LLC, Steve Oldford, and Tyler Buter.

Merton also prevailed with Brandos Muscle Man ($4.30, 1:56.2) and Lisa On Top ($17.80, 2:00.1).

The $13,000 Open 1 Trot saw Prairie Fortune ($6.60) rally off cover to capture his fifth win in seven tries, drafting behind Its Payday Friday before vaulting three-wide at head-stretch and lifting to collar Swishnflick in 1:55. Jim Meittinis drove the 4-year-old Arapa Victory gelding for Mike Deters--who trains the 22-time winner--and Laurie Poulin.

A pair of Italian American Friendship Series events for amateur drivers were contested early on the card, and Otello Zorzetto swept them both. Zorzetto posted a gate-to-wire win with Gary Messenger trainee Superiorcourt ($5.30) in 1:58.2, and used more patient tactics to prevail with Surge Seelster ($5.60) in 1:55.3 for trainer Stacey McLenaghan.

Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (August 20) evening, with post time slated for 6:30 p.m. Eastern. (Tioga)
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