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Victoria’s Maverick takes Plainridge opening feature

July 13, 2020
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Harness racing took center stage in the Bay State for the first time since last November as Plainridge Park kicked off their 2020 live racing season on Monday. With fans watching trackside, the horses put on a solid show despite the long layoff for many entered on the day's card. 
 
The first feature of the meet was a $12,000 conditioned pacing event that was won by Victoria’s Maverick, who closed with a strong brush down the lane. 
 
Victoria’s Maverick (Mike Stevenson) got away second behind a headstrong Van Helsing (Matty Athearn), who took the field to the half in :56.2. It was there that Besidetheseaside A (Ron Cushing) came calling and hooked up in a duel with the leader that lasted to the head of the stretch. After taking full advantage of the pace and cover, Stevenson steered Victoria’s Maverick inside the tiring Van Helsing and skirted the pylons to the wire where he won by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:55.
 
The win came in the first seasonal start for Victoria’s Maverick ($6.80) and the purse pushed his lifetime earnings to over $250,000 in only 29 tries. The 4-year-old Massachusetts-bred gelding is owned by Don Gauthier and Ralph Anderson, who also trains the winner. 
 
There were also two $10,000 divisions of the Freedom Trail series for Plainridge-based horses that both provided strong payouts. 
 
The first elimination went to Bet On Joe (Mike Stevenson) who sat the pocket behind American Rock (Jim Hardy) until the stretch where he tipped, cleared and cruised home in 1:56. Bet On Joe ($17.80) is owned by Sharon Goding and trained by Bobby Marston. 
 
The second split was won by Cherokee Hiflyzane (Drew Monti) who made a move past the five-eighths and overpowered the leading Tixnstones (Jim Hardy) around the last turn. He then held off a fast closing Mansome (Pat Curtain) at the wire to win in 1:53.4. Cherokee Hiflyzane ($10.20) is owned by Barrie Farrar and the winner’s trainer, Roger Farrar. 
 
Nick Graffam was the hot driver on Monday, winning three races on the card. He blew up the tote board with Pembroke Hat Trick ($38.40) and King Royalty ($21) before guiding home the strongly backed Rockin Cougar ($5.60). (Standardbred Owners of Mass.)
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