by john manzi for the Billings Series
Harness racing’s greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to Saratoga Raceway for a trotting contest on July 9th and when it was over newcomer Evan “Hoagy” Hoagland emerged victorious with Tapit in a 1:58.2 clocking.
Earlier this year “Hoagy” was driving in qualifying races in order to earn the right to compete in pari-mutuel races. and after showing his abilities the judges granted him a provisional license.
With 14 previous pari-mutuel drives where he garnered four seconds and three thirds his 15th drive was a charm for the 21-year-old. when his first pari-mutuel win came in the Billings trot at his home track in upstate New York..
Sent off as second choice from the four hole in today’s eight horse contest Hoagland found room along the pylons in third position before the field trotted by the first panel in a swift :27.4. As the field headed to the halfway point in :57.3 Hoagland moved Tapit first-up and progressed toward the lead which they finally gained as the three quarter timer flashed l:27.2. When the field headed for paydirt Tapit was well in charge and coasted home an easy four-length winner.
Despite road trouble “Bay State Bob” Kenney and Top of Page came from fifth the three quarters and negotiated their way clear to rally for second money. Third place went to the betting favorite, The Franchise, driven by Bob “the Headhunter” Hechkoff.
In winning the Billings trot today Tapit paid $8.00. She scored a seasonal best clocking and increased her lifetime earnings to over $102,000. The 6-year-old Justice Hall mare is owned by Hoagland Racing LLC and trained by Kyle Spagnola .