Rubber Duck certainly didn’t have it easy in his open trotting event, but he proved a solid winner for driver Joe and trainer Jennifer Bongiorno in 1:52.3. The Muscle Mass ridgling got away midpack in a field of seven, then came up on a relentless grind. The winner, now a member of the half-million dollar earnings club with a bankroll of $505,401 after this triumph, put away pacesetter Rock Of Cashel at headstretch, then kept the rallies of Opulent Yankee (inside) and Lord Cromwell (outside) at bay to the wire for owners Blair and Ema Corbeil (ironically, residents of Alberta, where the harness fare is strictly pacing).
Darlinonthebeach, who became a millionaireness in her seasonal debut last week, had a much easier journey than did Rubber Duck in taking the mares pacing event. Driver Victor Kirby had the Nifty Norman trainee perfectly placed behind first-over Dude’salady, then swung three-wide on the far bend, accelerating through the lane to win easily in 1:51.1. Joe Bongiorno completed a good Great Northeast debut by rallying 22-1 shot Diva’s Image through a stretch seam for the deuce, while Nike Franco N rallied for third and is likely to benefit from this 2018 debut contest.
Darlinonthebeach, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Darlin’s Delight who has been near the top of her division for her previous three years of racing, looks like she’ll be among the top of the distaffs at least early this season as well for owner/breeder White Birch Farm.