After making a break over an off-track in his last start at Yonkers Raceway 23 days ago, Starznheaven shipped into Massachusetts and regained his winning ways in taking the $14,000 Winners-over pacing feature at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon.
Starznheaven (Greg Merton) got away sixth in the field of seven as Pretty Boy Hill (Ron Cushing) seated One To Draw To (Shawn Gray) and took the group to the quarter in :26.4. At that station Electric Western (Mitchell Cushing) came with a rush and an outer flow in tow that consisted of Quick Shot (Drew Campbell) and Starznheaven.
Now with four in and three out stacked up on the backside, Pretty Boy Hill gave way at the three-quarters and the outside horses took turns taking the lead. First Electric Western cleared and then Quick Shot drew alongside and went by him at the top of the lane.
But Starznheaven was next to challenge for the lead, coming three deep on the outside to do it. Campbell and Merton were rocking and knocking Quick Shot and Starznheaven all the way down the stretch before Starznheaven got a slight advantage and won by a neck in 1:51.2.
It was the sixth win of the year and fourth in the last seven starts for Starznheaven ($5.20) who now has bankrolled $63,375 in 2018 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Donald Emond and Lawrence Karr. Jim Nickerson trained the winner.
In the co-featured $12,000 conditioned pace, Mysharona Bluechip (Greg Merton) left like a rocket off the gate and led at every station after that to win again easily by two lengths in 1:51.3. It was the fourth win in the last five starts for Mysharona Bluechip ($5.00) who is owned by A Piece of the Action and trained by Eric Beach.
Greg Merton, Shawn Gray and Nick Graffam each had a driving hat trick on Monday afternoon. Whereas Merton’s winners were not unexpected by the betting public, Gray and Graffam opened some eyes by posting big payouts in two separate races.
In the second race, Gray urged Sounder Hanover from worst at the half to first at the wire in 1:55.1 at 39-1. Owner/trainer Don Billingsley Jr. saw his Sounder Hanover set a new lifetime mark, return $80.00 for the win and top the 7-8-3-2 superfecta that paid $18,911.20 for a two-dollar bet.
And not to be outdone, in the fourth race Graffam steered Mic Woodrow in the exact same fashion to win in 1:55 at 67-1. Mic Woodrow, who is trained by Mike Graffam who co-owns with TFD Shadewood, took a new lifetime mark while returning $137.80 in the upset. The win also triggered a 9-3-5-8 superfecta payoff of $20,650.80 for a two-dollar wager.
The dash driving leaderboard looks like this after Monday’s card of racing: Drew Campbell-47 wins, Greg Merton-44 wins, Shawn Gray-42 wins and Nick Graffam-23 wins. (Plainridge)