Favourite Ride Away Shark ($3.10) made the winning move on the way to the half-mile mark and held clear to earn her first win of the year in the $10,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 2 Handicap Pace on Wednesday (January 11) night at The Raceway at Western Fair District.
Travis Henry drove Ride Away Shark to victory for trainer Scott McNiven and owners Kimberley McNiven of Putnam, Ont., and Thomas Brodhurst of London, Ont.
In her first start since mid-November, 2-1 Woodbine invader Stonebridge Quest (Bob McClure) worked to the lead from post five ahead of insider Insincerity (Paul MacKenzie) through a :28.2 first quarter before 1-2 favourite Ride Away Shark went on the attack from her early four-hole coming into the front stretch. She rushed to command on the way to the half in :59.2 and proceeded to three-quarters in 1:28 while Stonebridge Quest backed through the field. Meanwhile, longshot Honor Roll (J Harris) had followed Ride Away Shark's cover and moved into second-place. That mare tipped out for the stretch drive, but was ultimately second-best as Ride Away Shark scored a sharp victory in 1:57.1 over the 'good' track. Top Royal (Robert Shepherd) rounded out the top three finishers.
Scoring her 11th career win, Ride Away Shark is now just shy of the $200,000 earnings mark. The five-year-old Classic Card Shark mare earned $68,990 last year with a 4-7-5 seasonal summary from 37 starts.
The favourite, Pinky Tuscadero ($3.80), also prevailed in the $7,500 Preferred 3 as she rebuffed first-over challenger Nadia Can Go (Robert Shepherd) then held off the pylon-skimming Katherine B (Ryan Holliday) by a neck in 1:59 for Team Horner. Following up a runner-up effort in the same class last Wednesday, Mike Horner drove the five-year-old Artistic Fella mare to victory for brother Mark and Stephanie Horner of St Marys, Ont.
In other action, Dwayne Graham celebrated his first career training win as Burn Em Up Burr ($13.70) front-stepped his way to a 2:00.2 score in a $12,500 claiming-conditioned pace. The Caledonia, Ont. horseman has trained the six-year-old Whosurboy gelding to five top-three finishes from 12 starts. Bob McClure catch-drove the pacer as part of a four-win night.