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Speed N The Tunnel, Biletnikoff win at Hoosier

April 08, 2009

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Speed N The Tunnel got revenge on the field of trotters in the $24,000 Hoosier Park Invitational on Tuesday. The win marked her second victory in her last three starts for driver Sam Widger. Speed N The Tunnel led wire to wire with a comfortable tempo in the race.

Starting in the number three post, Speed N The Tunnel got out to a quick first quarter with a time of :27.1. Widger was then able to coast her into a comfortable speed during the next splits, reaching the halfway mark in :59.2 and 1:30 at the three-quarter pole.

Universal Star, driven by Jason Dillander, was drafting off of Speed N The Tunnel the entire way. However, when the horses turned for home, Speed N The Tunnel still had too much left and won by a neck with a time of 1:58.2. Rounding out the top three was S F Aceinthehole, driven by Peter Wrenn, who had six wins on the card.

“I don’t like to worry during the race because it transfers through the lines,” said Widger. “I need to give her (Speed N The Tunnel) all the confidence I can to reach the wire first. She is just an honest and gutsy mare and easy to drive once you get her away from the gate.”

Speed N The Tunnel is owned by Brett and Lynn Wilfong. The 6-year-old Armbro Tunnel mare is also trained by Brett and has been through her ups and downs through the past year. This past fall, she lost her right eye when she was in her stall after hitting a nail. The decision was made to remove her eye and after missing one race, she was back in the winner’s circle. The latest win for Speed N The Tunnel brings her career earnings up to nearly $330,000.

“I don’t know she has an eye missing during a race, and I don’t think she knows that either,” said Widger. “She races well every way I have driven her, and never shows any signs of limited vision.”

Biletnikoff and Wrenn scored the top spot in the $25,000 Invitational Pace. The duo followed along on the inside as Roxies Big Guy and Elliott Deaton led the way through fractions of :26.2, :56.1, and 1:25. In the stretch, Wrenn was able to move to the center of the track and let Biletnikoff pace home strong toward the leaders.
The race favorite was 1 1/4 lengths back from Rocket Fuel and Dan Shetler at the wire, but were placed up for the win after a disqualification. Benns Superman and Brad Hanners moved up for second while Royalton Star and Andy Shetler, last week’s Invitational winners, finished third after a first-over journey. Time for the mile was 1:52.3.

“This is a really nice horse,” said Wrenn of Biletnikoff. “He’s a legitimate Invitational pacer, and raced really well tonight even off a month layoff. He didn’t have the smoothest of trips tonight, but it was no total surprise he raced well. I used to train him and we sold him last fall. He’s raced well for every trainer that has ever had him.”

Biletnikoff, owned by Max Ernst, increased his career bankroll to more than $357,000 and earned his 24th career win. It was the third win in six 2009 starts for the 5-year-old Keystone Raider gelding trained by Paul Kennedy Jr. (Hoosier Park)

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