by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media
Fresh off a pair of Open wins at Saratoga, Obrigado ($8.70) pounced from a rated tracking trip to take the $15,000 Open Trot on Saturday (August 9) at Tioga Downs, equalling the all-age track record of 1:52.3 in the act.
From the outset, Aaron Byron kept the four-year-old Boy Band gelding well off an ambitious pace set by Wisenheimer (Jim Marohn, Jr.), only starting to move a closer second on the far turn after a 1:23.2 three-quarter split. While pressing on the far turn, Obrigado gained into a joint lead coming to the top of the stretch, driven out in the final sixteenth to prevail by three-quarters of a length. Macs Bad Boy (Mike Simons) rallied off a stalking trip to narrowly take second from Wisenheimer, while odds-on favorite Traverse Seelster (Brandon Simpson) simply had too far to rally, finishing fourth.
The mark, shared by Manningly and Autumn Escapade, also gave Obrigado outright ownership of the track record for four-year-old trotting geldings, eclipsing the past record of 1:54.3 shared by Martino and Brookroad Knight.
Trainer Paul Kelley co-owns Obrigado with the partnership of Higgins, Weaver, and Stable 45.
Later in the card, Pan Luis Obispo ($13.20) sustained a first-over bid to prevail in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace, wearing down Inittowinafortune in 1:51.4. Vinny Ginsburg handled the driving duties of the four-year-old No Pan Intended mare for trainer Robert Bresnahan and owner Robert Bresnahan, Jr.
Live racing resumes on Sunday (August 10) afternoon, with a stakes-laden program headlined by the finals of the Empire Breeders Classic for New York-sired three-year-old pacers. Post time is 1:30 p.m. EDT.