In late February, the initial Pro-Am Competition was staged at Pompano Park, and on Tuesday, June 19 at Scioto Downs, the second edition of the challenge where the amateur drivers competed in races with and against some of the industry's top reinsmen was showcased.
The competitions are the brainchild of Stacy Cahill, the director of racing at both Pompano and Scioto Downs. From the participants at each venue monies were raised for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and for New Vocations.
Participating professionals included Tim and Trace Tetrick, Dan Noble and Aaron Merriman, while the remainder of drivers in each event were all amateurs. And, to the surprise of no one, every one of the four contest races was won by a professional.
The first contest race was won by Dan Noble with amateur driver Steve Oldford second and Tim Tetrick third. Noble came back to win the second Pro-Am event as amateur driver Joey Putnam finished second. Tim Tetrick was again third.
In the third Pro-Am event, Trace Tetrick turned back Aaron Merriman for the victory. Amateur driver Michelle Ruvola took home the show dough. And in the final Pro-Am event, Trace Tetrick again emerged victorious with Aaron Merriman second and Michelle Ruvola third.
But the amateur drivers had their day in the sun with a race strictly for Billings members late on the card.
Ned Hodkinson and his trusty steed, Mutinyonthebounty, remain a perfect two-for-two this year after they out-footed nine others to score a 1:58.1 victory in the strictly amateur affair.
After racing on the front relatively unchallenged, the wire came just in time as a host of trotters were closing in on Mutinyonthebounty. But the Mutineer gelding refused to lose and kept Winbak Charles M and driver Larry Farley at bay for a head victory. Better Call Saul was a neck farther back in third for Michelle Ruvola.
Sent off the favorite in the race Mutinyonthebounty paid $5.90 for win. Hodkinson, who owns and trains the winner, notched his 61st driving victory lifetime.
(With files from the CKG Billings)