It was a tale of two races and the Jekyll/Hyde appearance was quite evident. The short field left the gate and settled in post-position order. Jacksons Image (Jim Hardy) was content to set the pace and did his best to put his competitors to sleep while waltzing to the half in :57.3. It wasn’t until the five-eighths that Wheelaway (Steve Nason) finally decided to push the issue and came with a rush as Quick Shot (Kevin Switzer, Jr.) agreed and joined the fray second-over. This left Escape The News (Ron Cushing) with a perfect pocket trip, where he tracked the action contently.
As the pace stiffened with a :28.1 third panel Jackson’s Image was feeling the pressure, yet still standing his ground. But as the group rounded the last turn and hit the head of the stretch, the five horses were now five wide as Cherokee Hiflyzane (Chris Long) had joined the fray on the grandstand side.
In what could only be described as an all-out cavalry charge, the five pacers barrelled down the lane side by side and within a head of each other. It was anyone’s guess who would get the advantage as the group approached the wire until Escape The News, who had gotten a covered trip the entire mile, snuck between the pylons and Jackson’s Image to take the win by a long nose in 1:54.1. The entire field was within a length of each other at the finish.
It was the second win of the year for Escape The News ($6.80) and his 33rd in 150 lifetime starts. The eight-year-old gelded son of Artiscape that has now earned over $800,000, is owned by Kevin Sywyk and Ron Cushing. The winner is trained by Heidi Gibbs.
Plainridge Park value players have benefited from a continuing stream of long-shots this meet and Monday was no different.
In the second race, Steve Nason disregarded post eight and left hard for position en route to a length victory with Allen Cay at 80-1. The $164.80 winner triggered an 8-6 exacta that paid $2,533 and an 8-5-6 Trifecta that returned $19,876.60. The 8-6-all-all Superfecta also paid a healthy $8,442.40.
Then in the ninth race, Feel My Pain and Jim Hardy got up late to win by a head at 32-1 and returned $66.40. That winner also prompted a 5-1-7-all Superfecta that paid $24,225.20.
Ron Cushing and Eddie Davis, Jr. each scored a driving double while trainer Elisha Lafreniere watched two stable members win.
Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday with post time at 4 p.m.