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>Coming off the pace and missing by only a head last week, Escape The News executed the same strategy successfully on Monday in winning the $10,000 ‘Old Ironsides’ featured pace at Plainridge Park.

Kevin Switzer, Jr. sent A Sweet Ride to the front and opened up a three-length lead before anyone knew what happened. He maintained that advantage for three quarters of the mile and cut swift fractions of :26.4, :55 and 1:22.2 in doing so.

At that third station, Escape The News (Ron Cushing) tipped three-wide from fifth around American Island (Greg Merton) who had stalled after leading the outer charge. A Sweet Ride was four-lengths in front at this point and it looked like Escape The News had place locked up at best. But the speedy quarters took a toll on the leader and Escape The News blew by A Sweet Ride like he was tied to a pole to win by two-lengths in 1:51.

It was the third win of the year for Escape The News ($4.40) and the time of 1:51 was a seasonal best. The winner’s share of the purse pushed the eight-year-old Artiscape gelding’s 2017 earnings to $30,720 for owners Kevin Sywyk and Ron Cushing. Cushing also trains the winner.

There were two other $10,000 conditioned paces on the card and both provided gate to wire winners.

In the first race, Biggie (Greg Merton) put the field to sleep with a :30.1 second quarter before pacing home in a brisk :56.2 to win by two lengths in 1:53.3, which was his season’s best. It was the third win in seven starts for Biggie ($5.40) and owner Michael Huff. Scott Rollins trains the winner.

And in the fifth race Memory Game (Greg Merton) was the easiest kind of winner, seemingly wrapped up every step of the mile. He paced unchallenged on the front-end and won by over a length in 1:52.3. The time was also seasonal mark for Memory Game ($4.20) who is owned by Bill Reepmeyer and trained by Jackie Greene.

Driver Greg Merton extended his meet-leading win total by four with victories by the aforementioned Biggie and Memory Game along with Imtoofastforyou ($4.20, 1:53.3) and Weekend Fling ($2.80, 1:54.3). Merton now has 40 wins at the current Plainridge session.

Kevin Switzer Jr. also scored a driving double.

Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Tuesday at 4 p.m.