CHESTER PA – The Big Jim gelding Tiger Thompson roared to the fastest mile of the young season at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, fronting a good field at every call to win the $18,000 pacing feature in 1:50.1.
Dexter Dunn got the strong Kiwi-bred to the lead before a 26.1 quarter despite the outside post seven, then got a breather to the half in 56. There was no catching the Tiger after that, by the tail or by anything else, as he streaked home in 54.1 – 26.4 to be 2 ¾ lengths clear of pocketsitter and countrymate Crockets Cullen N for his second straight win. (Yes, if you toss out that 29.4 second quarter, Tiger Thompson paced his other ¾ of a mile in 1:20.2.)
The top pacing mares event on the card, a $14,500 contest, also fell to Team Dunn / Parker, as Better Decision N followed the example of her stablemate and set sail on the lead, winning for the fifth time in her last eight starts, here in 1:53. A daughter of Bettor’s Delight, Better Decision N blitzed home in 55.4 for trainer/co-owner Parker, Nanticoke Racing, and Donna Messick. And while they were at it, trainer/owner Parker, driver Dunn, Nanticoke, and Prestige thought they might as well take the other $14,500 high-level conditioned pace, with the pocketsitting Live Or Die gelding Robbie Burns N having his plans to catch pacesetting Great Vintage not go awry by a neck in 1:52.1; Barry Spedden is also co-owner of this winner.
The $16,000 top trot saw Spee Club force wholesale tucks with an alert start from the rail, then continue on unpassed until crossing the wire in 1:56, tying his personal best. The son of Cantab Hall was driven to his second straight victory by Art Stafford Jr. for trainer D. Erin Neilson, co-owner with David Neilson.
While it doesn’t quite yet have the Saturday night appeal of its counterpart 100 miles up the Northeast Pennsylvania Turnpike Extension, the Philly claiming box got a lot of use today. Because of Sunday being dark for Easter, more claiming events than usual – five – were put on the Philly card, with every selling race seeing at least one horse change hands, and a total of eight claims totaling up to $109,000.