Fresh off a scheduled one month break, Ben Franklin and Des Smith champion Betterthancheddar returned to action on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack and rallied home from off the pace to win the featured $50,000 Open Pace.
Bigtime Ball (Paul MacDonell) made a power move off the gate as he sprung to command from post 10 before the first turn and put up a :26.1 opening quarter. Down the backstretch, the parked out Bestinthebusiness (Luc Ouellette) was released to the front and hit the half in a speedy :53.3 while Alsace Hanover (Randy Waples) moved first over from fourth with Bettor Again (Mike Vanderkemp) and Betterthancheddar (Scott Zeron) following his cover.
Bestinthebusiness continued to lead past the 1:21.4 third quarter mark, but Alsace Hanover wore him down as they spun into the stretch. However, Scott Zeron showed Betterthancheddar open road and the millionaire pacer stormed home in :26.2 to win in 1:49.1 by one length.
Betterthancheddar paid $2.90 to win as the 2-5 favourite. Alsace Hanover stayed for second while Foreclosure N (Mario Baillargeon) closed well for third.
The four-year-old son of Bettors Delight is now seven-for-eight in his aged career with $470,750 banked in purses for trainer Casie Coleman and owners Steve Calhoun of Chatham, Ont. and the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Ont. The victory was his 17th lifetime and pushed his bankroll to $1,247,866.
Betterthancheddar is being pointed towards the Canadian Pacing Derby eliminations at Mohawk, which are scheduled for Saturday, August 25.
Two races later in the $42,000 Fillies & Mares Open, five-time Saturday night winning driver Doug McNair sentSwinging Beauty first over to earn her third consecutive victory.
When the wings of the gate folded, Voelz Hanover (Mario Baillargeon) established the lead from post three and carved out opening fractions of :27.3 and :56.1. At the halfway point, Swinging Beauty angled off the pylons from fourth and advanced up alongside the leader as they approached the third quarter station in 1:24. The 6-5 favourite laid on the pressure around the final turn and struck the front in the stretch before drawing off to win in 1:51 flat.
Swinging Beauty paid $4.60 to win. Western Silk (Scott Zeron) followed the winner's cover to finish second while Tea Party Princess (Rick Zeron) rallied home from the backfield to show.
Gregg McNair trains the four-year-old Art Major mare, who has banked $108,060 of her $558,455 bankroll this year, for owners William Switala and James Martin of Clarence Center, New York. The victory was her fourth in 15 starts this season and ninth lifetime.
The five-bagger was the first for McNair, who currently sits fifth on WEG's leaderboard with 112 wins. McNair also guided OK Commander (1:50.3) to triumph in race three for his father, Gregg, and then scored with the Isaac Waxman-trained Georgetown N (1:50) in race five. McNair then captured both races 11 and 12 with Red Bugler (1:51.1) for trainer Matt Dupuis followed up with Three Charms (1:51.3) for conditioner Eric Adams.