Big Bad TJ was no factor early in Saturday’s feature at Scioto Downs, but he had the most pace in the homestretch and won by a length in 1:53.3, a new lifetime record.
Russell Swartz drove the son of Western Ideal to victory for owner-trainer Terry Tackett over What A Smile and favoured Docs Yankee. Big Bad TJ paid $45.60, $12.60, and $4.40.
Several pacers sprinted away from the start determined to get the lead and What A Smile was first at the quarter in :26.3, but he yielded quickly to Docs Yankee. Then driver Chris Page saw Cmon Blaze coming fast on the outside and let driver Ray Paver go to the front.
Cmon Blaze showed the way to the half in :55.1 and the three-quarters in 1:24 as Dicks Dandy mounted a brief challenge on the outside. Big Bad TJ was stuck back in sixth place, but full of pace and looking to advance.
When Dicks Dandy stalled, Chip Of Art loomed into contention on the outside and was pressuring Cmon Blaze as they entered the stretch. But Russell Swartz had Big Bad TJ pacing fast three-wide off the turn, and he had the momentum to surge to the front to win. What A Smile rallied to get second while Docs Yankee shook free to grab the show dough.
It was the fifth win in 23 starts for the winner, who was sold for $1,600 as a yearling by breeder Hanover Shoe Farms.
In the open II pace, the even-money favourite Hangon Cowboy went gate-to-wire for driver Jeff Nisonger, setting sizzling fractions and having just enough left in the tank to win by one and a quarter lengths in 1:53.3. Mike Medors trains the winner and owns him in partnership with Jerry Sommers. Big Als Delight finished second, but was placed fourth for interference. That moved Andys Z Tam second and Launch Angle third.