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The Minnesota Harness Racing Night of Champions program was conducted at Running Aces on Saturday night (Sept. 15), with eleven championship races going for a record $362,500 in purses, with an additional $15,200 in overnights for a total of $377,700 and the richest harness racing card in state history.   Among the Championship contenders was Boom Boom Shaboom, a 7 year old pacing mare by General Aidid who was making her final career start before retirement to become a broodmare. Boom Boom Shaboom had become a fan favorite over the last few years, campaigning in races all the way up to the top level at Running Aces with many appearances in the Mares Open Pace during the past two seasons.   She drew post six for the $20,000 Aged Pacing Mares Championship, coming in fresh off a sharp winning effort (1:54.2) in a mares conditioned pace last out. Trainer/Driver Brady Jenson seized the opportunity to grab the lead right off the gate- surging to command in the first few strides.   Jenson was able to control the affair with moderate and well-rated fractions (:28.2, :58.1 and 1:27) while saving enough in the tank to sprint home in :28 and seal the victory over fast-closing rivals Swinging Again (James Yoder) and Place'n First (Steve Wiseman) with a half-length margin of victory.   The 1:55 Championship win was career tally number 36 for Boom Boom Shaboom ($24.60) and rounded her final career purse tally up to $132,520 for owners Brian and Kim Larson of Canton, South Dakota. Timothy Lems was the winning breeder.   Burning Blaze turned in a dazzling gate-to-wire performance in the $40,000 2 Year Old Colts & Geldings Championship Pace from post three with driver Steve Wiseman in the sulky. Burning Blaze was never in doubt and was well in hand through a moderate early pace of :28.1 and :58.3, but turned on the turbo charge for a third panel in :28.2 and a blazing final quarter in :27.1, giving his rivals little chance to catch him.   His :55.3 final half was the fastest of the night, and secured the victory by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:54.1 for his seventh win in nine career trips to the gate and a new lifetime mark. He also established a new track record for 2 year old gelding pacers, eclipsing the previous mark of 1:54.3.    The impressive son of Wind Me Up is owned by his breeders Alan and Cheryl Sandbulte along with Edward Gutin. The winning trainer is Justin Anfinson. Rounding out the top three were Stay Humble N Kind (Gerald Longo) and SB Bodacious (Rick Magee) Burning Blaze ($2.10) was a heavy 1-9 favorite.   Dream Chasin became a back-to-back Champion by capturing the $35,000 3 Year Old Colts & Geldings Pace in 1:55 flat with Driver Nick Roland in the sulky. Roland sent Dream Chasin quickly off the gate from the outside nine post and swept right to the lead, controlled the pace and was never in doubt with a one length victory over deep-closer Watchmeneighneigh (James Yoder) and Ridonkuloso (Steve Wiseman) was home in third.   Dream Chasin ($33.00) was the 2 year old champion pacer last season, also with Roland in the bike. The big win tonight was number six on the season and ninth career tally for the son of Fancy Schmancy who has now bankrolled $81,415 for Owners and Breeders Michelle and Gregory Budach. The winning trainer is also Greg Budach.   Full-Sisters Al Mar Reba Babe (Dean Magee) and Al Mar Bon Bon (James Yoder) finished one-two and were separated by just a whisker at the line in the $25,000 Aged Trot Championship. The two daughters of Sos Lunar Eclipse out of Golden Victory by Valley Victor hit the line together in 1:56.3 and the photo finish camera was barely able to split the pair.   Al Mar Reba Babe ($6.40) got the victory by the slimmest of margins for her third win in eighteen starts this year and eleventh career tally, pushing her lifetime bankroll to $105,619 for owner/trainer Richard Davis. Al Mar Bon Bon is owned by Cara Hauser and trained by Alexia Kehl.   The other Championship winners were as follows:   $27,500 2 Year Old Filly Trot, Twilight Tinker (Rick Magee) for owner Cathy Dessert, trainer Nick Roland, time 2:04.1 $35,000 3 Year Old Colt Trot, Bekkums Royal Duty (Dean Magee) for owner Sarah Bekkum, trainer David Ginter, time 1:59 $40,000 2 Year Old Colt Trot, MD Magic (Dean Magee) for owner Set The Pace Racing, trainer Nick Roland, time 2:00 $40,000 2 Year Old Filly Pace, Windmeupnwatchmego (Dean Magee) for owner Richard Davelaar, trainer Gordon Graham, time 1:57.2 $35,000 2 Year Old Filly Trot, Mimi Marguerite (James Yoder) Jeanne Marquis and Jesse De Long, trainer Justin Anfinson, time 1:58.3 $35,000 3 Year Old Filly Pace, I'm On A Terror (James Yoder) Brian Anfinson and Jesse De Long, trainer Justin Anfinson, time 1:55 $20,000 Aged Horses & Geldings Pace, Stuckey Dote (Rick Magee) for owner Merlin Van Oterloo, trainer Brett Ballinger, time 1:53.2   Driver Dean Magee had four Championship wins on the program, with James (J.D.) Yoder picking up two Championships and three wins overall.   Trainer Justin Anfinson had three Championship wins, with Nick Roland picking up two Championships on the night. Driver Steve Wiseman and his wife Trainer Kathleen Plested-Wiseman were crowned as the 2018 Leading Driver and Leading Trainer at Running Aces.   Wiseman picked up two wins on the closing night program to bring his final win tally to an impressive 105, his best Running Aces season to date. He had a final advantage of 16 wins over Dean Magee who was very impressive in the last six weeks of the meet pulling to within 7 or 8 wins of the lead with about three weeks to go.   Magee landed at an impressive 89 wins for the season. Kathleen was well ahead of all trainers throughout the season and pulled away from the field in the final month of racing, picking up one win on closing night for an impressive total of 68 wins for the meet, 33 wins ahead of both Gerald Longo and Justin Anfinson.   For both husband Steve, and wife Kathleen it was back-to-back Championships at Running Aces. Daughter Tyler Wiseman was also in the Winner's Circle to help celebrate the fantastic season for the Wiseman stable.   The $100,000 Guaranteed 20-cent Pick-5 wager on closing night marked a record for the largest guarantee in track history, and produced the largest gross pool in the history of our Pick-5, and also contributed to the best Saturday handle in the history of the track.   Running Aces management wishes to thank all of it's loyal fans, staff, and horsemen for another successful and record setting season. Special thanks go out to Xpressbet for the Night of Champions promotional sponsorship, as well as NAHUpicks.com and Harness Racing Replays for season long partnerships as well.   Simulcast Racing is offered year round at Running Aces as well as Casino action 365 days a year. Check our website RunAces.com for news and upcoming events. Information about the next/upcoming season of Live Racing is typically posted around February or March of each year.   By Darin Gagne, for Running Aces  

Columbus, MN - The Tuesday night (Aug. 28) harness racing program at Running Aces played host to the $14,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 Year Old Trot event, and it would feature another impressive performance from MD Magic, who posted his fifth consecutive win in this division. The gelded son of Braggart has now won six of his seven career starts while bankrolling $42,300 for is owners Set The Pace Racing and trainer Nick Roland. This week, MD Magic ($2.40) floated away from the gate in fifth from post five, as a host of others fired out for the front. Driver Dean Magee got MD Magic out and moving near the half mile pole, and he continued to advance, dropping into the pocket behind Dewey's Machine (Steve Wiseman) around the final turn and powering by the leader in the stretch to draw clear for a two length tally in 2:01.1. The $11,000 Mares Open Pace went to Kiss On The Lips (Dean Magee) in another gutsy front-running performance for two in a row. Kiss On The Lips fired fast from her outside six post and was quickly in command, Bettor Lady (Steve Wiseman) mounted a strong first-over attack through the final half mile but Kiss On The Lips remained resilient and battled right down to the wire, keeping a head in front to stop the clock in 1:54.4 for her seventh win of the year. Kiss On The Lips ($6.40) is an 8 year old daughter of Dontgetinmyway, and she is having the best season of her career, with 22 top-3 performances in 33 starts and $62,944 in the bank for owner Peg Hoffman and trainer Gerald Longo. Burning Blaze (Steve Wiseman) delivered another impressive performance in the $8,500 Minnesota-Sired 2 Year Old Colts & Geldings pace with a 2 ½ length tally in 1:56.2 for his fifth win in seven starts for trainer Justin Anfinson, and Windmeupnwatchmego (Dean Magee) also dominated once again in the $8,500 filly division with a gate-to-wire score off of soft fractions in 1:59 for her fifth win in seven career starts for trainer Gordon Graham. Dean Magee dominated the card with 6 wins, for his sixth consecutive Tuesday program with at least 4 wins. Steve Wiseman and James Yoder each completed driving doubles as well. Live Racing continues 3 nights per week at Running Aces, with first post at 6:00 pm CDT on both Saturdays and Sundays, and first post at 7:00 pm CDT on Tuesdays. The program on Saturday, September 1 will feature a carryover of $29,853.38 in the 20 cent Jackpot Pick-5 wager. By Darin Gagne, for Running Aces  

Columbus, MN - The featured harness racing event on Saturday night, (Aug 25) at Running Aces was the $20,000 Minnesota Sired or Owned Preferred Pace, and local fan favorite Firedrake stole the show with a furious charge to the wire to capture his fifth win of the season, and secure his second Running Aces major event victory.   Stuckey Dote (Rick Magee) was the slight betting choice from post seven and fired right out of the gate to engage Firedrake (Brian Detgen) for the lead. Firedrake had plenty of early speed from post one, but yielded for the pocket trip and Stuckey Dote settled on top after a 26.2 opening stanza.   BestintheBusiness (James Yoder) was attacking first-over past the 55.1 half mile, with Cantholdmebackmack (Ryan Anderson) launching from the second over position to sweep three-wide down the backside.   Stuckey Dote was holding sway past the 1:23.3 clocking at three-quarters, but Firedrake was right there in the pocket, and Whatchastarinat (Lemoyne Svendsen) was now a new 3-wide challenger as they turned for home. Firedrake powered through the inside lane in deep stretch to claim victory over the field, with Stuckey Dote holding second over Whatchastarinat and Bestinthebusiness.   The final winning margin was 3/4 of a length in a 1:52 mile for Firedrake ($6.20) establishing a new seasonal mark. The always impressive 5 year old son of Dragon Again now sports 23 career wins and has boosted his seasonal earnings to $67,370 for owners Set The Pace Racing, LLC and trainer Nick Roland.   Getter Queen Flush pulled a mild upset over Place At The Beach in the $9,000 Mares Claiming Handicap pace, with a gradual advancing move from the back of the pack, driver James Yoder was able to take aim at the leader and race favorite Place At The Beach (Dean Magee) near mid-stretch and powered by for a half-length tally in 1:54.3.   For Getter Queen Flush ($13.00) it was her seventh triumph of the season in 32 starts, and pushed her 2018 bankroll to $33,348 for owner/trainer George Reider along with Richard Thomas and Theresa Paul.   The 20 cent Jackpot Pick-5 wager now has a carryover of $24,334.50 for Sunday night (Aug 26) with first post at 6:00 pm CDT.   by Darin Gagne', for Running Aces  

Columbus, MN - Harness racing drivers Nick Roland and Rick Magee each reached career milestones at Running Aces Sunday as Roland scored his 1,500th career win and Magree won his 1,000th career victory. Nick Roland scored his 1,500th win  when he piloted Sing N Sandi to her maiden victory (1:58.2) in race 11 on the program on Sunday,  Roland is the all-time leading driver at Running Aces, having made 725 or more trips to the local winner’s circle since the track opened in 2008.  He has been the track’s leading dash winner four times. Nick is also the track’s all-time leading money winner. Nick’ driving career started back in 1998, and he had his best year with wins and U.D.R.S. in 2012 with 140 victories and a very impressive batting average of (.432). Nick’s best year with purse earnings so far was 2017, with $685,077. In addition to his 1,500 plus victories, Roland has picked up 1,233 seconds and 1,032 thirds for a total of 3,775 top 3 finishes in 7,046 trips to the gate, an impressive average of over 50 percent in the top three. One of the top horses that Nick has campaigned as both a driver and trainer is Firedrake, a winner of 22 of 52 lifetime starts and winner of the 2017 Dan Patch FFA pace at Running Aces, and runner up this year, after just missing the repeat championship by a neck in 1:51.1 on Sunday (July 22). Along with catch-driving, Nick trains a stable of around 15 horses with his longtime girlfriend Jessica Johnson. For driver Rick Magee he steered Bringoverthemoney to his fourth win in a row to pick up his 1,000th career driving victory in race 1 on Sunday (July 15). Rick is currently second in all time statistics at Running Aces, and he has picked up 558 of his career wins right here at the Minnesota oval. Rick started his driving career in 2002, but it really took off when Running Aces opened in 2008. His best year so far with wins was 2009 with 139, and his best year both in U.D.R.S. and purses was 2016 with an average of .372 and earnings of $531,179. Rick has campaigned many good horses over the years at Running Aces, and currently trains a stable of around a dozen horses with his longtime girlfriend Mikaela Del Giudice, their roster currently includes standout pacers Stevensville, and Hawk's Red Chief, both of them competing at the highest level this season, and both also competing in the 2018 Dan Patch FFA. by Darin Gagne', for Running Aces 

Columbus, MN - The Tuesday evening program of Harness Racing at Running Aces featured the $12,000 Mares Open Pace, with a talented field of 7 facing the starter. Delightfully Wild (Lemoyne Svendsen) was last week's winner in this event, and was sent off as the even money choice while coupled in the wagering with Bettor Lady (Dean Magee). Delightfully Wild set sail from the six post to establish command early, with Kiss On The Lips (Nick Roland) also firing from post five. Those two mares remained in the top two positions throughout, as they peeled off fractions of 27.1, 56.1 and 1:24.1. Turning for home, Nick Roland guided Kiss On The Lips into the inside passing lane and the two mares battled all the way to the wire, stopping the clock in 1:52.2 with Kiss On The Lips ($7.80) a neck in front of Delightfully Wild, with her stablemate Bettor Lady closing well to pick up third money. Kiss On The Lips now has 5 wins in 26 starts this season, and has bankrolled $41,054 for owner Peg Hoffman and trainer Gerald Longo. Hard Cold Cash completed a four race win streak on Tuesday with another strong performance, in the $10,000 Winners-over Pace, sweeping to the lead just past the quarter pole and holding the field at bay to score by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:53.3 with Dean Magee aboard for trainer Denise Maier and owner Antonia Storer. Driver Nick Roland led the Tuesday program with 3 wins for a Hat-Trick, with Mooney Svendsen and James Yoder both completing doubles. The 20 cent Jackpot Pick-5 wager has a carryover of $4,735.56 and the 50 cent Hi-5 has a carryover of $1,223.60 when Live Racing returns on Saturday night (July 14). The racing program on Sunday (July 15) will feature the $15,000 Dan Patch Preview pace, and also play host to "Public Safety night", with emergency vehicle demonstrations as well as special discounts for Public Safety workers. Post Time on both Saturday and Sunday is 6:00 pm CDT. by Darin Gagne', for Running Aces        

Columbus, MN - The Sunday evening (June 24) program of Harness Racing at Running Aces was loaded with action-packed races and was highlighted by the $14,000 Open Handicap Pace for horses & geldings, featuring a very talented field of nine.   Firedrake was the talk of the tote board, having drawn his most favorable post position (2) in several weeks, and coming into tonight's contest off of a few troubled-trips where he had faced traffic issues, the public was certain that Firedrake was the one to beat.   The public was indeed correct, as Firedrake was alert from the inside and floated out to a three-hole position as Hawk's Red Chief (Dean Magee) and Bettor's Promise (Williams Hernandez) both launched from the outside posts and traded blows for the ealry lead. Just past the 27.0 quarter, Hawks Red Chief yielded to Bettor's Promise, then swooped right back around to re-take. Make It Big (Steve Wiseman) went on the attack with a strong first-over attempt through the middle stages (55.4 and 1:24), that created a four-horse outer flow which found Firedrake locked and shuffled down the backstretch.   Make It Big was unable to sustain his rally around the final turn and driver Nick Roland found a split-second opportunity to glide his pacer into the clear, and Firedrake responded immediately with a furious charge to engage the leader and power by, opening up with every stride and stopping the clock at 1:53.   Stevensville (Rick Magee) had traveled along the pylons behind Firedrake throughout, and was able to shake free and post a strong rally for 2nd, while Hawk's red Chief had to settle for third. Firedrake ($4.40) is owned by Set The Pace Racing, LLC. and trained by Nick Roland, this was his fourth trip to the winner's circle in 13 starts this season.   Also on Sunday, The $12,000 Open Handicap trot was featured, with a strong group of seven facing the starter. Silverlode (Lemoyne Svendsen) was here to defend her 3-race win streak which was comprised of track record miles, while overall Track Record holder Banker Volo was looking to strike back and post his second open win of the Running Aces season and Pridecrest (Steve Wiseman) was trying to score his first local win.    As the gates swung open, the big mare Silverlode was firing fast from her assigned outside post and powered past a fast-leaving Banker Volo to take the early lead and command the fractions. Silverlode posted a moderate tempo of 28.3, 58.0 and 1:27 with Banker Volo breathing right down her neck from the pocket, and as they turned for home, Banker Volo tipped out and it was game on.   The always impressive 9 year old stallion rallied past his nemesis mare with a strong stretch brush, to draw away by 1 1/2 lengths and post a mile in 1:55.4 over Silverlode who remained game in second, and a late-closing bid from Pridecrest secured the third spot. Banker Volo ($11.40) now shows 3 wins in 10 starts, he is trained by Jenni King for owner Jeralene Roland.   Driver Rick Magee led the program with 3 wins on the night, while Nick Roland, Steve Wiseman and Dean Magee all picked up driving doubles.   Back on Saturday night (June 23), Aint No Uppy Girl (Rick Magee) rallied from off the pace to win her $8,500 Filly pace in the Minnesota-Sired races, she stopped the clock in 1:55.1 for a new lifetime mark and her second win in the last 3 starts. Aint No Uppy Girl ($3.60) is owned by Van Oterloo Stables and trained by Gordon Graham.   Also on Saturday, Dream Chasin (Nick Roland) was a pocket-rocket style winner in his $8,500 boys division in 1:55 for a lifetime best mile and two wins in a row. Dream Chasin ($6.00) is owned by Michelle and Gregory Budach.   by Darin' Gagne, for Running Aces

Columbus, MN - The Tuesday evening (June12) Harness Racing card at Running Aces was loaded with exciting races and close finishes. One of the most exciting stretch duels came in the $10,000 upper-level claiming pace ($12,500 tags), when Cantholdmebackmack ($5.40) and driver Nick Roland rallied from the back of the pack to engage in a battle with race leader Bet Together (James Yoder) in the homestretch.   Bet Together had posted the early fractions of 27.0 and 56.1 before losing the lead to a strong challenge from 31-1 outsider Cenalta Power (Tim Maier) near the three-quarters. Bet Together dug down deep and reclaimed the lead turning for home, but then faced another strong challenge from eventual winner Cantholdmebackmack, who rallied past late to post a ¾ length tally in 1:53.1 for a two race win streak.   The talented 8 year old gelding by Relentless Yankee is owned and trained by Jessie Pacheco. Goody Two Socks (Rick Magee) was home third.   The $11,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace was another epic battle between the two top mares Gold Star Mysti (James Yoder) and Kiss On The Lips (Nick Roland). Kiss On The Lips and Nick Roland worked hard in the first quarter to establish the lead from the outside post in 27.1 and was in control at the half mile post in 57.3 but faced a tremendous challenge from Gold Star Mysti throughout the final half mile. Those two mares traded noses on the lead every step from there to the wire, with Kiss On The Lips prevailing by a head at the line. A Judges inquiry determined that Kiss On The Lips bore out in the deep stretch into the path of Gold Star Mysti, just enough to warrant a disqualification for interference. The order was reversed and Gold Star Mysti was declared the official winner for her first win of the season, the final time was 1:53.3. The winning mare is owned by Gold Star Farm, and trained by James Yoder. Driver Nick Roland led the program with three wins, while Rick Magee and James Yoder both posted driving doubles.   The 20 cent Jackpot Pick 5 wager continues to build and now stands at $7,333.63 for Saturday night, June 16. This weekend's feature races will each go for $20,000 with the Running Aces Trot on Saturday, and The Running Aces Pace on Sunday.   There are lots of activities for Father's Day at the track, including a chance to win a fishing trip, and a bottle opener giveaway along with Live music and other family themed activities. Post Time on both Saturday and Sunday is 6:00 pm CDT.   by Darin Gagne', for Running Aces    

Columbus, MN- The Saturday evening Harness Racing card at Running Aces featured the Showdown in Columbus between reigning king of Minnesota trotting Banker Volo, and king of California trotting Pridecrest.   The masses were split right down the middle in whom they thought would take the top prize in their first matchup, in the $11,000 Open Handicap. Pridecrest took more action at the windows, going off as the ever-so-slight favorite at 4-5, over Banker Volo at 6-5. When the gate sprung open and pulled away, it was Banker Volo (Nick Roland) who was charging hardest of all, quickly securing the lead.   All eyes were searching for Pridecrest at the start as well, and he was unhurried in the early stages, floating away in 5th through the early fractions of 28.2 and 58.2. Pridecrest launched a first-over attack just past the half mile pole, sprinting up to second position but never quite drawing alongside Banker Volo, who began to accelerate around the final turn. Silverlode had enjoyed a sweet pocket trip behind Banker Volo, and came charging late to make for a thrilling finish.   The crowd was aroar with support for Banker Volo and he fought gamely to the wire to secure the heartwarming victory, successfully defending his legacy as the top trotter in track history. The timer stopped at 1:55.1, with an impressive final panel of 27.4 for the winner, with Silverlode trotting home in 27.2 to come up just a head short on the line.   Banker Volo ($4.40) is now a 9 year old stallion by Yankee Glide, and he is owned by Jeralene Roland and trained by Jenni King, and has now won 33 races and $365,898 lifetime.   The $10,200 3 year-old Minnesota-Sired "A" pace went to Peekaboo Tattoo ($9.80), a filly by Up Front Brad who had raced only 1 time as a two year old, before campaigning in California this year, and picking up 4 wins in 12 starts there. The filly was up against a very tough competitor in Giggle Monster, the odds on favorite in the talented field. Giggle Monster (Dean Magee) made a quarter pole move to take control of affairs after a slow opening panel of 30.0, and the sharp gelding by Wind Me Up led through middle panels of 1:00.2 and 1:28.4 but Peekabo Tattoo (Steve Wiseman) shook free from a three hole journey to gun down Giggle Monster in the final strides, getting up to win by ¾ of a length in 1:56.2 for a new lifetime mark. The winner is owned by Fabiola Quevedo and trained by Edwin Quevedo. Steve Wiseman led all drivers on Saturday with another Hat-Trick for his third consecutive night of 3 wins, while Nick Roland posted his second double in a row.   Live Racing is back at Aces on Sunday, May 27, with first post at 6:00 pm CDT. Carryover in the .20 cent Pick-5 wager is $577.67 and the .50 cent Hi-5 is $1,211.15.   By Darin Gagne' for Running Aces  

Columbus, MN - The Tuesday evening harness racing program at Running Aces was headlined by the $11,000 Open Handicap Pace, with a talented field of 6 facing the starting gate.   Top billing went to Firedrake, winner of the 2017 Dan Patch Free-For-All Pace at Running Aces, and a track record holder. Firedrake ($4.40) with trainer/driver Nick Roland in the bike, left alertly from post 4 on the gate and took command early, pacing a strong opening stanza of 27.3, and then stealing a pedestrian second panel of 30.3, after that there would be no chance of catching the 5-year-old gelding by Dragon Again.   Hard Cold Cash (Tim Maier) made a mild bid past the 5/8 pole, but was no match tonight for Firedrake and the soft second quarter fraction. Pocket-sitter Kiss On The Lips (Gerald Longo) was able to secure second, over a late bid from To The Limit (Steve Wiseman). Firedrake paced a final half of :55.2 and final panel of 27.3 to secure the victory in 1:53.4 under a hand drive.   The talented pacer is owned by Set The Pace Racing, LLC and now shows 3 wins in 9 starts this year. For driver Tim Maier, the trip on Hard Cold Cash in the feature race, marked his return to the sulky after a 10 month hiatus from the track. The absence in the bike followed a racing spill last July. Management, Staff, Horsemen and Fans from far and wide were all thrilled to see Tim back in the sulky. Tim and Cold Hard Cash finished fifth tonight, beaten less than 5 lengths, after a tough trip first over in a fast final half mile. Stevensville ($3.20) made his presence felt in a big way this evening, as he posted a very sharp gate-to-wire victory in an eye-opening time of 1:52.2 with Trainer/Driver Rick Magee. Stevensville powered away from the middle of the gate in post four to grab command, and he faced a very strong challenge from Elusive Image (Tony Huffman) during the final half mile. Stevensville was able to fend off Elusive image with a solid final quarter of 27.3, keeping his rival at bay. The final margin was ½ length. Stevensville is a 7-year-old Stallion by SomebeachSomewhere, and he is owned by Dr. Ken Rucker and Jana Lee Rucker of Wisconsin, tonight's tally was the 22nd lifetime win for the winner of $509,629. Buzz Light (Nick Roland) posted a super-sharp win in the final contest of the night, a $7,000 conditioned pace. From post 4, Buzz Light left sharply and secured second position behind the heavy race-favorite Storming D Odds (Steve Wiseman). After being shuffled back to third, Roland was able to angle out just in time for a first-over bid at the half mile, and Buzz light proceeded to grind first over, remaining in striking position until the homestretch, where he powered home impressively in 28.3 to score a solid win over the favorite, with Crash and Burn (Dean Magee) checking home in third in the 1:55.3 mile. Buzz Light is owned by Cathy Dessert and trained by Nick Roland. Tonight's victory was his third score this year, and sixth lifetime win. A rare occurrence took place this night at Running Aces, as the last five races on the card were won by horses wearing saddlepad number 4, with nobody correctly selecting the 4-4-4-4-4 combination in the 20 cent Pick-5, nor anyone correctly playing 4-4-4-4 in the Late Pick-4 wager. Those two pools will now carry-over to Saturday night, May 26, with first race scheduled at 6:00 pm CDT. Post Position 4 actually won the final 7 races on the card, after taking second in race one. (Firedrake-#5 in race 3, started from post four after the scratch of #2.) By Darin Gagne, for Running Aces

Windsun T Bird is still going strong as her 11th birthday approaches, with the pacing mare getting her meet off to a nice start with a 7-1 upset last Friday night at Cal Expo for harness racing owner/trainer Robin Clements and pilot Nick Roland. "Miss T Bird, as we call her, had been in quite a few tough races with a few being track record breaking at Aces, so I knew she needed a good break," Clements related. "I gave her a month off when she returned and she really took advantage of her rest. "When I started her back she felt like her old self, very strong and happy. I was actually amazed how well she was training back. I decided that I would qualify her, but with the rain predicted I decided to race her instead and give her that one race to tighten up." Robin originally put David Siegel up, but as he had a horse in the race, she found a very able replacement in Nick Roland, who is making a very nice impression in his first Cal Expo invasion. "Nick never drove T Bird before, but had raced against her the last few years at Aces and was familiar with her style," Robin said. "When they sitting fifth during the race I didn't expect much out of her, but when he pulled her past the five-eighths pole and she had her momentum going, I knew we had a chance to win. "Nick did a great job and gave her a perfect trip. I like that Nick always liked the mare and that makes for a great combination when a driver has respect for your horse." Clements added, "Maria Alvarez has done a great job grooming Miss T Bird and had taken care of her at Running Aces while she worked for Timmy and Denise Maier, and Jack Olsen who helps me train has done a great job as well with my horses. It was definitely a team effort. "Windsun T Bird is a gutsy mare who puts everything she has on the track, its all business with her, yet she is such a pleasure to work with and around and is our barn greeter so it's no surprise she is one of the favorites in the barn." Pair of Opens, Horowitz Eliminations set A $6,600 Open Pace for fillies and mares that features a contentious cast of nine; a $5,500 Open Pace that rematches Firedrake and Jazzmanian Devil and two elimination heats for the Alan Horowitz Memorial get the spotlight on Friday night at Cal Expo. There will be 11 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with another 11 contests set for Saturday evening. First post each night is 6:10 p.m. Jazzmanian Devil is a 6-year-old son of Sand Shooter who carries the banner of William Condo with Kathie Plested training and Mooney Svendsen again handling the lines. After getting a solid qualifier under his belt two weeks ago, Jazzmanian Devil was dismissed at 6-1 in last week's Open Pace. Last of the half-dozen turning for home, he exploded for Svensen once straightened for home and got the job done by a half-length in a 1:54 flat tour. Firedrake was the 4-5 choice in that contest but had to settle for a close third. He was a game winner on opening week from the tough No. 10 post, as he was hard used for position, tracked to the drive and dug in when it counted for the score. A 4-year-old son of Dragon Again from the Artsplace mare Everything's Easy, he races for Set The Pace Racing LLC with Nick Roland doing the driving and training. He was a 1:51 2/5 victor at Running Aces in early September. Completing the field are Senga Nitro, Baylor Out and Ragin's Flight. There are two wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is conducted on the first five races, and the 20-cent Pick 4, which covers the penultimate four races on the evening and comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The featured event on the Tuesday Night (Sept. 5) harness racing program at Running Aces was the $11,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace, and it was another exciting battle between Kiss On The Lips and Gold Star Mysti. Driver Nick Roland was aggressive with Kiss On The Lips, sending her fast off the gate to a quick lead, she was clear and on top by three lengths in a flash. Roland then throttled her speed as the rest of the field settled away behind her, and the field was in good single file order at the 28.2 check-in. Kiss On The Lips and Roland were still well in hand passing the half mile mark in 58.3, and rival mare Gold Star Mysti (James Yoder) had begun their first-over attack, drawing on even terms with the front-runner for the next 3/8 of a mile. The talented top two mares were still locked in battle through a fast 27.2 third panel that stopped the clock at 1:26 for three-quarters. As they turned for home, Kiss On The Lips ($20.60) was able to fend off Gold Star Mysti in another impressive display of determination, as she opened up two lengths and hit the wire in 1:53.3 for her 2nd straight win. Gold Star Mysti held second as the 1-5 favorite, and La Madawna De Rosa (Luke Plano) checked in third. Kiss On The Lips has now won 7 of 28 races this season. She is trained by John Rogers for Owner Peg Hoffman. The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 Year old pace saw a talented field of 10 freshman line up behind the gate, and the filly Ellamennopee was the one who shined brightest on this night, picking up her 4th win in 7 lifetime starts with a fantastic effort in 1:56.1 for a new lifetime mark. Driver Steve Wiseman sent the impressive filly to the early lead from post 3 off of the crowded gate, before yielding to Watchmeneighneigh (James Yoder) and race favorite Giggle Monster (Dean Magee). Giggle Monster led through the middle portions of the affair, but Wiseman launched Ellamennopee ($7.00) to the attack going into the final turn, and she quickly took control, pacing away to a 3-length tally for Trainer Brett Ballinger and Owner Merlin Van Otterloo. Live Racing continues at Running Aces 3 nights a week through September 16. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The Sunday evening harness racing program at Running Aces was highlighted by the $10,000 Open Handicap Pace for Horses & Geldings, and once again it did not disappoint as the talented field of seven put on an exciting show, and after the dust cleared at the wire, Firedrake had etched his name into the history books with a track record setting victory.   Firedrake, the 4 year old pacing gelding sensation by Dragon Again, has posted a fantastic campaign at Running Aces in 2017, he was nearly undefeated in his first 8 races (save a disqualification early in the season), and he became the Champion in the $35,000 Dan Patch Free For All Pace (1:52.1) in July. Now, he has added a track record to his impressive 4 year old resume.   In tonight's contest, Trainer/Driver Nick Roland sent Firedrake fast off the gate from post 6, utilizing his early speed to take the first call and lead, before yielding to rival BestinTheBusiness (James Yoder) who was looking to build on a 3 race winning streak. BestintheBusiness cleared from post 7 just past the fast 26.4 quarter-pole clocking, and led through the middle panels of 56.1 and 1:23.2, though was nosed for the lead, and pressured in a strong first-over attack by Lodi Machette Man (Steve Wiseman).   Lodi Machette Man was still at the throat-latch of BestIntheBusiness as they turned for the money, and JDS Brent N Sheree was launching 3-wide, but Firedrake was waiting in the garden seat that he had secured early on, and Nick Roland turned on the turbo boosters through the inside lane with Firedrake, who rallied past his tough rivals to get the victory. The tally is his 9th of the season, and a lifetime best 1:51.2 mile that eclipsed the previous track mark from 2013 (Tyber Tyke, Nick Roland 1:51.3).   Firedrake ($5.60) has now won 15 of his 30 lifetime races, and has bankrolled $69,404. He is owned by Jessica Johnson.   The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old Trot event also went to post on Sunday, and Imapixieatmidnight ($6.60) did not disappoint her faithfull backers as she posted a flawless mile for her 5th win of the season. Trainer/Driver Nick Roland guided her away from the gate in the pocket position from post four, and took command of affairs just past the five-eighths checkpoint, with enough in the tank to hold off a late challenge from It's Stormin Money (Steve Wiseman). The victory by 1/2 length in 2:00.2 equaled the lifetime best for the filly by Sos Lunar Eclipse, who now shows 9 lifetime wins and $79,677 in earnings for owners Set The Pace Racing, LLC.   Nick Roland led all drivers on Sunday night with a driving double on the card.   Live Racing continues at Running Aces, 3 nights a week, through September 16.     By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The $12,000 Open Handicap Trot was the featured event on the Tuesday Night harness racing program at Running Aces and it would produce an exciting race, with 3 lead changes before the 28.2 quarter, it was clear it was going to be a thrilling event.   Natural Forces (Joe Casagranda) posted the early fractions before Franky Provolone (Dean Magee) came sweeping by, but then it was race-favorite Ideal Jesse (James Yoder) who took his turn on the lead, but there would be room for just one more lead change in the mile, as driver Nick Roland had perfectly positioned his charge, Becky Badger Baby ($26.80) right behind Ideal Jesse in the flow, and the 5 year old mare by Rail Splitter was able to out-kick him to the wire to pick up the impressive win in a lifetime best mile in 1:56.4. Nick Roland trains the sharp trotter who is no stranger to success at Running Aces, having been Minnesota State champion at both 2 and 3. She is owned by Royal and Barbara Roland and Dale Hein, and she now sports 25 lifetime wins in 57 starts and a career bankroll of $121,212.   The $10,000 Open Handicap Pace for Horses & Geldings went to Stuckey Dote with Nick Roland aboard the sulky for Trainer Brett Ballinger and Owner Merlin Van Oterloo. Stuckey Dote ($16.00) was an early leader before yielding for the pocket and then driving through the inside lane in the stretch to post a career best win in 1:52.3. Stuckey Dote is by Voracious Hanover and now shows 16 wins in 31 starts, with $95,925 in the bank.   The $10,000 Mares Open Pace was another thrilling contest, and it would be Best of Jenna ($7.80) who would shine brightest of all on this night. Trainer/Driver Rick Magee was aggressive with his mare and sent her right to the lead from post six in the 7 horse affair, setting fractions of 27.0, 55.4 and 1:24.1 before pacing home in 27.4 to hold off a late charge from both Stable Eyes (Luke Plano) and Gold Star Mysti (James Yoder). The winning margin was just a neck, but it was enough for the 5 year old Jenna's Beach Boy prodigy to post her fifth win in 8 starts this year, scoring in her first start for new Owner Daniel Graber, in a final time of 1:52 to equal her lifetime mark.   Tonight Running Aces hosted a "Driver Appreciation Night" to benefit two drivers (Tim Maier and Lemoyne "Mooney" Svendsen) that were injured in a racing accident last month, and are currently recovering from that incident. Running Aces management doubled the on-track live handle of the featured 9th race and donated that to the drivers, to be added to the sales of Running Aces hats that will also benefit the drivers.   The .20 cent Jackpot Pick 5 carryover now sits at $29,718.15 and will highlight the wagering menu for Saturday Night, August 13, with first post at 6:00 PM CDT.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The Sunday evening program of harness racing at Running Aces featured the $35,000 Dan Patch Free For All Pace, and the event drew a talented field of 7 contenders who had collectively earned more than $2.1 million and won 187 races in their respective careeers.   The contest would wind up being dominated by the horse who came into the race with perhaps the least credentials in purses and wins, but perhaps one of the biggest hearts of all in the field.   Firedrake ($13.20) posted a sparkling gate-to-wire performance and absolutely dominated the affair. Trainer/Driver Nick Roland sent the 4 year old Dragon Again gelding right to the lead from post 5, and controlled everything through moderate front panels of 28.0 and 56.2 before facing a strong challenge and heavy pressure from race-favorite and Midwest pacing dynamo Roland N Rock past the 3/4 marker in 1:25. Firedrake had plenty of answers for Roland N Rock (Steve Wiseman) and the rest of the field as he turned back all challenges, and turned on the afterburners to sprint home in 27.1 for the biggest win of his career, a 2 1/4 length victory in 1:52.1 to take the Dan Patch FFA Trophy. Megatron (James Yoder) was up for second, with Roland N Rock home in third.   Firedrake is no stranger to the winner's circle, in fact he has crossed the wire first in 9 of 10 starts this year, suffering his only defeat to Roland N Rock in last week's $15,000 Dan Patch preview. Firedrake was un-raced at age two, and had a great season at 3 with 6 wins and 5 seconds in 15 starts, with most of them right here at Running Aces. The razor sharp pacer is owned by Jessica Johnson and now shows 14 wins in 25 lifetime starts and $59,624.   Also on the Sunday card, Al Mar Money Glide ($65.00) pulled a big upset in the $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old Trot event, posting his first lifetime win in his seventh trip to the gate, stopping the timer in 2:01.1 with Steve Wiseman aboard for Trainer Brady Jenson and Owner Larry Jo Jenson, the gelding is by Money Talks.   Driver Steve Wiseman posted another Grand Slam for his second consecutive night with 4 wins on the card. Nick Roland and Luke Plano both picked up driving doubles as well.   The 20 cent Jackpot pick 5 pool continues to grow, with a carryover of $15,648.83 going in to the Tuesday night (July 25) program. There is also a carryover of $2,575.41 for the Race 11 Hi-5 wager on Tuesday.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The Sunday night May 21 Running Aces harness racing card featured the return of local favorite Roland N Rock to the Minnesota oval to headline the $11,000 Open Handicap pace. He did not disappoint his loyal fans and pari-mutuel backers as he turned in a dazzling performance as expected. Assigned the outside post in the 8 horse field, driver Nick Roland sent “Rocky” out quickly in search of the lead, but found plenty of competition for the top spot, and opted to float back into the four hole as they checked in at the quarter in a swift 26.4. From there the duo sat patiently through the half in 56.1 before launching their attack, first with a second over position nearing three-quarters (1:24) and then a quick 3 wide brush to take command turning for home, pacing away from the field to score by 2¼ lengths in 1:52.2 with a 28.0 final quarter and a final half in 55.3 SF Donttellonme (J. Casagranda) rounded out the exacta off of an early pocket trip, while pace-setter Easy Again (R.Magee) checked in third. Roland N Rock (by Rocknroll Hanover) returned $3.60 for a $2 mutuel, after posting his 3rd win of the season and boosting his seasonal bankroll to $117,450 for Owners Duane and Connie Roland. Firedrake ($5.20) did not disappoint in his 2017 debut as well, delivering as co-favorite in a nice $6,400 conditioned pacing event. Firedrake and trainer/driver Nick Roland secured a pocket trip behind Bo Master and found his way up the inside of the track late to score a nice win by 2¼ lengths in 1:56.1 Firedrake is owned by Jessica Johnson, and the 4 year old gelding by Dragon Again now sports 7 wins in 16 lifetime tries. The win also completed the back-to-back double for Roland. Steve Wiseman posted a Grand Slam with 4 wins on the Sunday night card, Wiseman fans were rewarded in the opener as he scored aboard Art Genta paying $3.40, race 3 ($2.60) with Muscle Beach, race 4 steering Cenalta Diesel ($7.60) and race 10 with a $4.80 mutuel aboard Magnifique. Wiseman had a triple on the opening night card, and jumps out to the early lead in the driver standings. Lemoyne “Mooney” Svendsen picked up his second driving double in a row with the two biggest prices of the night, Losira in race 5 ($18.60) and Hi Ho’s Little Rev ($21.00) in race 9. Live Racing returns to Running Aces this coming Tuesday, May 23 with a first post of 7:00 pm CDT. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

Nick Roland returns to the Running Aces harness racing track as its leading driver and plans to have a busy first night Saturday when the facility just south of Forest Lake off I-35 opens its 10th season. Roland, a 34-year-old Grinnell, Iowa, native, said he expects to be in every race, 8-10 a night. Last year, Roland was among the top three finishers in most races and won about 30 percent of them. “That’s a pretty high win percentage in the harness racing world,” he said. “We’ve been at Running Aces every year since it opened.” The Pioneer Press talked with Roland about harness racing and his experiences at Running Aces. You were the leading driver at Running Aces last year. What is it about Running Aces that you like? It’s relatively close to where I grew up. My family has raced horses for a number of years in the area. I’ve grown up knowing everyone from the area. Being kind of the hometown guy around here, I get a lot of first choices on horses that other people don’t. You race your own horses as well as other people’s horses? We have between 20 and 25 horses at Running Aces. Those are the horses I have to drive first. After that, I drive for a number of other stables in the area. I may be listed as the driver of several horses in a race and I pick one. Where else have you driven? This past year, we went out to New York and stabled out there in the winter. We raced at Yonkers, Monticello, the Meadowlands in New Jersey, Saratoga. We also raced in British Columbia. Also, we’ve raced in Sacramento. Obviously, this is a full-time job for you. In December and January, it’s pretty slow. Other than that, it’s pretty much full time. How did you get involved in harness racing? My great-grandfather on my mother’s side started racing back in the 1950s, and my grandparents on my father’s side started racing in the 1970s. My parents met at the races. It was kind of bred into me. When did you decide harness racing was the sport for you? I grew up doing it. I was able to put myself though college by being able to have horses at my parents’ farm. My parents insisted I get a degree and get a real job. It’s kind of a gypsy lifestyle, racing horses. I worked at an insurance company for a year and I was miserable. I did that for a year and quit and decided I was going to race full time, and I haven’t thought about doing anything else since. Unlike in thoroughbred racing, where the jockey has to be diminutive, size isn’t as much of a factor. How big are you? I’m a pretty big driver. I’m 6-foot-1 and about 170 pounds. Size isn’t as much of a factor in standardbred racing. The sulkies are balanced to offset the driver’s weight, but you don’t want somebody huge on there. You don’t see many 300-pound drivers, do you? Not any more. There used to be some pretty big guys that were top drivers. Nowadays, most of the top guys aren’t as big as me. The guys are under six feet tall and probably around 160. In harness racing, is the driver also often the trainer? I’m the trainer on our stable and; for other stables, the driver varies. Most trainers use “catch drivers,” which means they use a driver they can hire. Generally, most trainers don’t drive full time like I do. At Running Aces, there are a lot of trainer-drivers because it’s a small, isolated area. It’s not someplace you can expect to make a good living just catch driving. Do you prefer pacers or trotters? (The majority of harness racing horses are pacers — where the front and back leg on each side of the horse move in unison; trotters have a front and back leg on opposite sides of their body move in unison). We do both. We have about half and half pacers and trotters. I guess I don’t have a preference. I like good horses, and it doesn’t matter to me if they’re a pacer or trotter. Standardbred horses are the standard for harness racing. Ever race any other breed? No, I haven’t. I have thought about getting into thoroughbred racing. With Canterbury Park being so close, there are a couple of guys I know and we were talking about going in together and claiming something there. We haven’t done it yet. It would be neat. How different or difficult would it be to train a thoroughbred? It’s hard to say because I’ve never done it. It is quite a bit of a different world. Thoroughbreds race, at most, twice a month. Standardbreds can race once a week. Standardbreds are much more hearty. What question are you asked the most when people find out you are involved in harness racing? Can you make any money doing it? I guess that’s the question I get asked all the time. And what is the answer? The answer is yes, you can make money doing it. If you’re a small-scale owner, you shouldn’t plan on it or count on it. The way to do it is to have a large number of horses so you can diversify your risk. If you have one that doesn’t make anything, generally you have one that makes up that loss. Are we talking profits in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands? It really depends on the scale you’re willing to go. This biggest standardbred trainer, I think, earned like $20 million in purses. His owners generally are the same two or three guys. They spend a lot of money but have hundreds of horses. In 2012, our best year, our stable made a little over $400,000 in purses at Running Aces. It’s not all profit but that was a good year. We had between 15 and 20 horses. By Bob Sansevere Bob Sansevere can be heard Tuesdays and Thursdays on the KQRS Morning Show, and he does a daily podcast called The BS Show, which can be listened to live on the Tom Barnard digital radio network or downloaded via iTunes, Stitcher or thebsshow.net.   Reprinted with permission of The Twin Cities Pioneer Press

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