BERLIN – Opening night at Ocean Downs was an exciting one, as a track record was set and a driving triple was recorded.
Weather reports foresaw rain and gloomy weather for the night, but the evening only saw hints of rain as the night proved to be a perfect one to set things in motion. Peter Symanski, manager of Ocean Downs, envisions a great meet to come. “Our drivers here have respect for one another and that always leads to a safer and more pleasurable time,” he said.
The feature of the opening night was the running of the first leg of the Bud Light Pace, the first of a number of stake races at the Ocean Oval this summer. The late closer was a half-mile dash that was exhilarating to say the least. Frank Milby, who won in the first round of the same event last year, kept his stride by driving Mr Thinker ($10.20), a nine-year old horse, to the win. His winning time of 55 seconds flat set a new track record here at Ocean Downs.
Another highlight of the night was the Chuck Perry Jr.’s driving triple. The first three races of the night were recorded as a win in his book. The 44-year-old driver drove three-year-old gelding, Hurricane Bluechip ($4.40), to his first win of the season.
“I’m supposed to be rusty because this is my first race of the season,” he said. “Although I did think that they all could win.”
Perry was anything but rusty as he raced to an early lead of the driving title race.
Mark Gray, who finished second in the driving title race last year, notched a driving double. Gray won the eighth race with eight-year old C M Aruther ($5.20), a gelding that he also trains. Gray also stole away with the ninth race with Lost Weight ($13.40) a six-year-old gelding.
Another notable driving recording his first win of the season was local favorite Ray “Shorty” Robinson Jr. He drove six-year-old mare Bunafide Artist ($9.60) to the last win of the evening. He is slowly working towards a milestone of 1,000 wins. The win he recorded tonight was win number 991.
A crowd of 2,273 was on hand for the opening night.