(NEW KENT, VA) — Mark Gray’s Poker Champ continued a consistent and successful early season at Colonial Downs by capturing the $4,500 Junior Pacing Series’ first leg Sunday afternoon.
The 5 year old Cam’s Card Shark gelding entered the new series fresh off a win, second and third place finish in the Emergency Squads of Virginia Series, which ended Wednesday. Poker Champ, who was a close runner up in the Squad finale, left from post four Sunday against nine other pacers.
Mobil Big John left strong from post nine, got to the front and cut initial fractions of :26 4/5, :56 3/5 and 1:25 2/5 before fading slightly down the stretch. Poker Champ, who was fourth through the third clocking, came outside in the turn and set the stage for his move on the front stepping trio. The public’s betting choice passed Paulimony and Southern Man in mid-stretch, then caught and surged by Mobil Big John to win by 1 ½ lengths in 1:53.0.
Poker Champ, who Gray also trains, is owned by Anne McDonald, LLC of Alexandria, Virginia. McBlack came on strong to finish second while Mobil Big John hung on for third.
Colonial Downs is dark Monday and Tuesday. The second half of its six week fall season begins Wednesday with a ten race card beginning at 1:00 PM.