Nichols, N.Y. -- Middle-half pressure from P L Houdini would not faze James Cantelon's Dragin the Wagon ($42.60), who withstood a second challenge in the stretch en route to a 20-1 upset in Friday (June 3) evening's $11,000 Open Trot at Tioga Downs.
Fern Paquet, Jr. sent the 6-year-old Angus Hall gelding right to the front, and the pair refused to yield to a first-over challenge from P L Houdini (Scott Coulter) on the clubhouse turn. After dueling through middle fractions of :56.3 and 1:24.3, Dragin the Wagon shook free of a fading P L Houdini and held off a late challenge from pocket rival Here Comes Numbers (Mike Simons), who chased up the pegs in the final sixteenth. Zooming (Mike Merton), favored at 6-5, rallied off stalled cover to take third.
Jeffrey Byron trains Dragin the Wagon, who earned his 27th career win.
In the $11,000 Mares Open Pace, Cracker Coffee ($3.60) made good at odds-on via a pocket trip, following an ambitious pace set by All Charged Up (Tom Jackson) before sprinting out from the pocket in upper stretch to a two-length, 1:52 victory over K J's Caroline (Jim Taggart, Jr.) while All Charged Up faded to third. Mike Merton drove the 7-year-old Six of Diamonds mare for owner LRL Racing, LLC and trainer Amber Buter.
Mike Simons led all drivers with a treble on the 10-race card, teaming up with Talktomecourage N ($10.00, 1:55), Summer Snow ($4.20, 1:52.1), and No Reason At All ($9.70, 1:55.2).
The evening's two first-round $7,500 M&J Oil & Lube late-closing preliminaries went to 3-year-old trotting fillies Anime Hanover ($13.60, Jim Meittinis, 1:59) and Fruition ($10.40, Jackson, 1:56.4).
Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (June 4) evening, with the first of 10 races due off at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.