by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media
The S & P Racing Stable's Jets Are On ($4.90) completed a series sweep in the $38,000 M&J Oil and Lube final for distaffers, while Sandbur Farms and Valarie Sutton's Nitro Seelster ($10.40) outsprinted a trio of Ron Burke trainees in the $46,000 Nichols True Value final on Sunday (June 29) afternoon's Tioga Downs program.
The two late closing series finals served as co-features on the 13-race card, with the M&J Oil and Lube final looking to be a showdown between preliminary winners Jets Are On and Godiva Seelster. Neither mare was prominent early, as Happy Apples (Matt Kakaley) and Evil Fight (Jeffrey Long) were embroiled in a cutthroat duel to a :54.4 half mile. On the backstretch, Jets Are On swept three-wide, pushing to the lead into the far turn and drawing clear by five lengths at head-stretch. Godiva Seelster (Fern Paquet, Jr.) sustained a late bid from farther back in the field, rallying well to take second, reducing Jets Are On's winning margin to two lengths in a 1:53.0 effort. Always Flash-n (Aaron Byron), who stalked from the pocket, was able to shake free from the fading pacesetters to save third.
Corey Braden drove Jets Are On for trainer Luanne Case.
In the Nichols True Value final for male pacers, Nitro Seelster sustained a bid off the live cover of Real Illusion (Brandon Simpson), edging clear of Ron Burke trainees Pappy's Pal (Matt Kakaley) and Shark Fantasy (Dan Charlino) while holding off a strong late charge from Agood Time to Rock (Dan Rawlings) en route to a 1:52.3 victory. Sean Bier tipped the four-year-old Camluck gelding off cover at head-stretch, pulling clear late for a two-length triumph. Agood Time to Rock chased late after suffering an awkward start, re-rallying to just take second from his stablemates, the pocket-sitting Shark Fantasy and the pacesetting Pappy's Pal (third and fourth, respectively).
Doug Hamilton trains Nitro Seelster.
Live racing returns to Tioga on Friday evening, with the Independence Day card set to begin at 6:15 p.m. EDT.