Bolt The Duer and driver Mark MacDonald zipped up the passing lane off sizzling fractions to win the $500,000 Delvin Miller Adios for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings in a world record clocking of 1:47.4 on Saturday afternoon at The Meadows.
A Rocknroll Dance and Yannick Gingras forged to the front from the outside post position ahead of inside starter Bolt The Duer and led the field, which was reduced to six with the scratch of Allstar Legend, past scorching fractions of :25.1, :52.4 and 1:19.2 while turning back a first over challenge from the popular elimination winner Sweet Lou and Dave Palone. But as the field turned for home, MacDonald sent Bolt The Duer up the passing lane to prevail by a length and a half in the fastest mile ever on a five-eighths mile track.
The 1:47.4 winning time lowered the all-age record by one-fifth of a second, which was held by older pacers Artistic Fella, Mister Big, We Will See, and Betterthancheddar. It was two-fifths of a second better than the sophomore record, set by Custard The Dragon in his Adios elimination last year and equalled this year by Hurrikane Kingcole.
A Rocknroll Dance stayed for second and Breakin The Law, driven by David Miller, finished third. Rounding out the field were Sweet Lou, Thinking Out Loud and John Campbell, and the other elimination winner Bettors Edge with Dan Dube.
"It was our turn to get one," commented MacDonald after the victory. "I was just hoping Yannick's horse could carry me. I was surrounded by the two best horses and I was really worried about Thinking Out Loud because he's so fast from off the pace, but when I came up the rail I didn't see him coming so I was happy about that."
The victory was a special one for the two-time O'Brien Award winning reinsman, who relocated to the U.S. earlier this year after recovering from extensive injuries in a 2011 racing accident.
"It's everything," he said. "Anytime you win a big signature race [it's great], but I was off five months from a bad accident and I got lucky to get [the drive on] this horse and it means a lot."
Bolt The Duer paid $25.20 to win. Peter Foley trains the Ponder-Wonderbolt colt for All Star Racing Inc. of Towaco, New Jersey.
“Mark punched out there as hard as he could," said Foley in the winner's circle. "We had no choice, and Mark did a hell of a job. I knew that first quarter would be 25 and change. When you think there’s never been a mile that fast on a five-eighths-mile track in the history of harness racing, it’s pretty incredible.”
For trainer Ron Burke, Palone and Sweet Lou’s ownership group, the defeat extended a frustrating campaign for a horse that was harness racing’s best at two, but has failed his major tests so far this year.
“That’s the worst trip you want at The Meadows,” said Burke. “We’ve seen a thousand times that first up from the three-eighths pole is just not going to work going into those fractions. The way it shook out, I knew we were in trouble. I was glad to salvage third and fourth.
“It is disappointing. This is the race we really wanted to win. It’s starting to look like this year is becoming a train wreck. We have to either re-evaluate how good we think he is or turn it around."
Earlier on the card, Dapper Dude and Campbell won the $50,000 Adios Consolation in 1:50.4 for Canadian Hall of Fame trainer and co-owner Bob McIntosh.
(With files from The Meadows / Photos courtesy Chris Gooden)