By Gary R. Rasberry
WAPAKONETA -- With a name like Like Nothing Else, coming up big was certainly in the cards.
The 10-year old gelding, with Bud Hatfield in the sulky, posted the fastest of the two winning times to capture the Moon City Trot as part of the first of two nights of harness racing at the Auglaize County Fair in Wapakoneta.
Like Nothing Else also picked up 10 big points in the trot standings of the Signature Series. It was the first points picked up by the Columbus-based trotter.
In the first heat of the Trot, it was Ultimate Message who had the lead after the first half-mile, clearing the course under course record time with 59 seconds. As the five sulkies approached the 3ò4 mark, Like Nothing Else made his move to the front, taking the lead and taking it to the finish, clocking in at 2:012ò5, just 2ò5 off the record trot time set three years ago. One Final Time looked to place second, but protests about interference were upheld, dropping One Final Time to fifth. Ultimate Message was placed second with That's George moving up to third.
Like Nothing Else's time in the first heat made for a challenge in the second Moon City Trot heat. Early on, veteran sulky-man Russell Swartz had Realli Hung Over in the lead, but faded back and finished fifth overall. Sugar Free took the lead and looked to carry it past the 7ò8 mark. From the outside, Diamond Dust T came on strong and got past down the stretch to get the win. The time came out at 2:041ò5, denying driver Michael Micallef the overall win. More controversy came on the race as Sugar Free dropped from second to fourth in the placement due to interference. Bashful Boise moved up to second with Buddy's Profit taking third. The night kept judge Paul Combs busy as several judge's inquiries, protests and a very close photo finish also highlighted the 14-race program.
The closest race of the night came in the fourth. Colt pacers Mr. Mint and San Fran Forever came down the stretch in a virtual tie. Both crossed the finish in 2:03 but were too close to call. After 10 minutes, the photo was brought to the judge's stand, where San Fran Forever edged out Mr. Mint. The win was the second straight for Jim Dailey after guiding filly pacer Penne to a win in the third race. Jim Dailey later won his third ride of the night with colt pacer Bad Boy Jake.
The Dailey family kept the winning up for the next two races as Jack Dailey took the fifth race with filly trotter Sweet Elly Mae, who dominated the race for her third win in four career starts. In the sixth, it was Fritzie's Bunnie that brought Dailey another win with a filly pace. The win was the third straight for Fritzie Bunnie.
A scary moment came in the 12th race of the night as Red In Full Stride, with Mendon resident Steve Boroff driving, was yards away from getting the win. All of the sudden, the horse mis-stepped and jumped. Boroff was almost dumped from the sulky, but was able to hold on and keep Red from breaking away. People in the infield rushed over to help. The horse was calmed and walked away from the track as Boroff walked away with a limp and was unable to run his ride in the next race. Denise Hall, with Mike High in the seat, took the win in a wild race that took time to place the horses after the excitement.
Justin Hall picked up two wins on the night, taking the second race with colt trotter Pure Jesse and the ninth race with colt pacer Union Jet, thanks to a dash down the stretch to beat the ironically named I'm Faster.
Also getting wins on the night were Harold Dick, who won the opening race with filly trotter Sunset Lady, Daniel Burks with My Mary in a filly pace, and Brandon Bates, riding Anna Sue to victory in a filly pace.
The race program at the fair concludes tonight with 11 races slated to start at 7 p.m. The Moon Walk Pace Signature Series race will highlight the program.