by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media
Verdi gets the green at Tioga; Simons scores a hat trick
Nichols, N.Y. -- In his second local start, Paul and Patricia O'Neil's Verdi ($9.60) held off steady pressure from Six Bax and subsequently held off a late stand-side charge from even-money favorite Spice It Up Lindy to capture Saturday (July 18) evening's $14,000 Open Trot at Tioga Downs.
With a pair of scratches reducing the field to five, Verdi did battle with fellow 7-2 joint second favorite Lexis D J on the first turn, driven clear by Mike Simons after a :28.1 first-quarter duel. Upon reaching the backstretch, Verdi was nudged along by the first-over Six Bax (Jim Taggart, Jr.), holding off intensifying pressure through three-quarters in 1:26.1. At the top of the stretch, Verdi was fully extended, but battled stoutly through the final yards. Not only did he stave off Six Bax's extended challenge, but he also kept the late-charging Spice It Up Lindy (Charlie Norris)--who kicked cover off the far turn and accelerated in the final sixteenth--at bay for a 1:56 victory. Spice It Up Lindy missed by a long neck, while Six Bax stayed on to finish third.
John Hallett trains Verdi, a 4-year-old gelded son of Kadabra.
In addition to the feature, Simons took both halves of the early double, teaming up with Twin B Heartland ($5.40, 1:55.3) and Yolo Lindy ($2.80, 2:02.1) for a driving hat trick on the 13-race card.
Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Sunday (July 19) afternoon, with the first of 13 races due to commence at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.