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Hunchie defeats Foiled Again in track record performance at Mercer County Fair
Monday, August 13, 2018 - by Thom Pye, for the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association

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Celina, OH --- When the field for the $10,000 Trent Bates Memorial at the 166th Mercer County Fair stepped out onto the track there was an expansive and excited assemblage that watched in awe. A lot in attendance had gone by Horse Barn No. 1 where Foiled Again had graciously held court before the race and now he was rigged and ready for the battle.

As announcer Doug Ballinger introduced the eight horses and their lifetime achievements, most eyes in the overflow crowd were on the No. 2 horse: Foiled Again. There had never been such an animal that had appeared at Mercer and, for that matter, nowhere else. His program statics are eye-popping: this was his 317th lifetime start, 100 lifetime wins with 68 seconds and 46 thirds, with $7,587,593 earned in his 12 years against the toughest competition in the sport.

Catch-driver Chris Page scored Ron Burke's masterpiece in front of the packed tarmac and brought the two-time Horse of the Year closer for them to see. Babe Ruth. Ted Williams. Joe Dimaggio. Stan Musial. Foiled Again.

 
Thom Pye photo
Hunchie was all alone at the finish in a new all-time track record of 1:54.

And when the horses lined up behind the starting gate the fans pressed against the fence two, three deep from the seven-eighths to well past the wire in hopes of seeing another notch in the old man's bat handle.

A mile to remember was as promised when catch-driver Trevor Smith shot Hunchie straight to the top with a quarter in :26 and played run and hide, catch me if you can with Fred Reed's 8-year-old by No Pan Intended, another veteran with more than 200 starts and more than $275,000 under his belt. Foiled Again and Page sat a distant second as Smith sent Hunchie down the road to a half in :55.

When the Vince Hanna-trainee clipped the three-quarters on top by 10 lengths, most expected him to come back to the pack but Smith kept him rolling. He was all alone at the finish in a new all-time track record of 1:54 that shattered the previous one of 1:56.2 held by Twinspeak and Jack Dailey. Mystical Rock (Cameron McCown) got up for second over Foiled Again.

Midst the applause and cheers that reverberated throughout the packed stands one elderly fan looked around with tears in his eyes, smiled, and said softly: "It seems like old times, doesn't it?"


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