Every time Walpole, Mass., native George Ducharme brings Wings Of Royalty to Plainridge Park, it seems these native sons get the job done. On Thursday (Aug. 23), the 6-year-old son of RC Royalty entered the track's record book for the second time in his career when he won the $16,000 Winners-Over Handicap in a handy fashion.
Wings Of Royalty (Shawn Gray) left three-deep from post seven and took command before the quarter. With the field seated behind him, he led the group to the half in :56.3 with Gray sitting chilly in the bike. Only Passing Thru (Greg Merton) had been tracking from second the whole way and appeared to be the only horse with a legitimate shot to challenge the sharp-trotting leader.
Up the backstretch and around the final bend, positions remained unchanged and Gray looked to have two hands full of leather. By the top of the stretch, Wings Of Royalty and Only Passing Thru had separated themselves from the pack by five when Merton tipped out to take his best shot off the solid trip. But Wings Of Royalty was not to be denied today, as he trotted away from the challenge and to the wire under no urging whatsoever from Gray to win in 1:53.2.
The time was a new track record for older trotting horses, lowering the mark of Kodak Lindy who went the trip in 1:53.4 in 2016. Wings Of Royalty is also the track record holder for 4-year-old trotting horses at Plainridge Park with a time of 1:53.2, also registered in 2016.
Wings Of Royalty ($3.20), who was the 3-year-old Massachusetts Sire Stakes champion in an undefeated 2015 series, was bred and is owned by Ray Campbell Jr. of Belchertown, Mass.
Several horsemen had multiple win days at Plainridge, including driver Mitchell Cushing, who topped them all with three consecutive trips to the winner's enclosure. Aaron Hall and Nick Graffam also had a good day, each notching two wins on the card. Mike Eaton and Michael Girouard led all trainers with two wins as well.
There was no Wicked Hi-5 Pentafecta winner again on Thursday, so the carryover pool has grown to $4,671 and will be available in the sixth race on Monday (Aug. 27), when the next live card of racing at Plainridge Park is held. Post time is 4 p.m.--By Tim Bojarski/Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts