Prairie Illusion was a wire-to-wire winner in Sunday’s featured $10,500 Fillies & Mares Open Pace as she held off a host of Jim Marino stablemates in the stretch. Marino had his turn in the spotlight though with five wins on the 12-race card.
Bill Davis teamed up with Prairie Illusion for the first time and drove the seven-year-old Mach Three mare to her initial win of the 2016 racing season for trainer and owner Heather Sifert.
With the inside post advantage, Prairie Illusion pocketed 4-5 favourite Sheezgotdawoogies (Brandon Campbell) off the gate and cruised through panels of :29, :58.2 and 1:27.1. The field, which was scratched down to five starters, remained in single-file alignment until the final turn when Sheezgotdawoogies and Wrapped To Go (Paul Davies) launched to the outside. Just One More (Jim Marino) proved to be the biggest threat down the stretch as she closed through the passing lane, but came up just short. Prairie Illusion prevailed in the photo finish, getting her nose to the wire first in 1:57.2 over the ‘good’ track. Wrapped To Go finished third ahead of Sheezgotdawoogies.
There was an inquiry following the race and the judges ruled that the runner-up’s claim of foul on the winner for alleged interference approaching the finish line was disallowed.
With the results deemed official, Prairie Illusion paid $6.90 to win as the 2-1 second choice.
While Marino’s trainees settled for second through fourth-place finishes in the feature event, the Surrey horseman had plenty of opportunities to visit the winner’s circle on Sunday. Marino won five races during the afternoon harness racing program. He had back-to-back winners from his own stable, Credit Risk ($10.50) and Tito Santanna ($4), and also catch-drove winners Oh Yeah ($3.20), Westridge Warrior ($10.50) and Moonlight Spice ($7.60).