To most, the fourth race of the day at Indiana Grand was a regular claiming event, but for three individuals, the race was one that they will never forget. Joni Patterson, Richard Hyde and Don Kehrt earned their first win as new Thoroughbred owners at Indiana Grand.
The trio of owners had the opportunity to get introduced to racing through Indiana Grand's “Grand Gesture Stable,” a fractional ownership program last year with the filly AJ Pacer. At the conclusion of the meet, the Indiana-bred filly was open for sale and Patterson, Hyde and Kehrt got together with Trainer Tony Granitz and purchased her, taking their first big step into horse ownership. Since that time, AJ Pacer has made four previous starts, just missing the win by a neck in her most recent outing Tuesday, Sept. 4. However, their luck turned around in the fourth race Wednesday, Sept. 19, as AJ Pacer, guided by DeShawn Parker, earned a win for the group.
“This is awesome and she looked good,” said Kehrt. “I've been here for all of her races and I drive up from New Albany, Ind. I wouldn't miss it.”
AJ Pacer began her journey from post five in the field that was reduced to seven following two late scratches in the gate. The 4-year-old daughter of Keyed Entry got away in third along the inside and saved ground to close the gap on the top two in the only turn of the six furlong race. At the head of the lane, Parker identified a gap on the outside of the leaders and shot through for a perfect lane to the finish line, winning the race by three-quarters of a length in a time of 1:11.80. Shineonmejustice and Santo Sanjur finished second over Fancy Pants and Eddie Perez for third.
“This is unreal and I am so excited about the win,” said Patterson, who resides in Greenfield, Ind. “When I saw her come to the outside in the stretch, I knew she had a good shot to win. I felt it all day that she would race really well.”
Trained by Granitz, AJ Pacer was the favorite of the field, paying $4.20, $2.60 and $2.10 across the board. It was her third career win in 12 career starts and boosted her career earnings tally to more than $55,000 with the win.
Hyde joined Kehrt and Patterson in taking the day off work to watch AJ Pacer. He too has not missed one of her races all year and was accompanied by his son, Justice, for the race.
“My home office is in Greenfield, so I'm a little closer than Don (Kehrt),” said Hyde. “I thought if she was in a good spot turning for home she'd have a big shot to win. She didn't have to battle the front ones early on and that helped.”
In addition to Patterson, Kehrt and Hyde, several family members were in attendance to watch AJ Pacer get her first win for the new owners, including Patterson's daughter, Bailey, and grandson, Raymond.
“I think the kids brought us a good luck charm,” added Hyde. “We will have to make sure they are here from now on.”
The 16th season of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horse racing continues through Wednesday, Nov. 7. Racing is conducted Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 2:05 p.m. with Saturday racing beginning at 6:05 p.m.
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