The 2nd Annual Bobby Quillen Memorial Pace got underway Monday at Harrington Raceway and Joe Muscara's Mister Big ($2.60, Brian Sears) was as advertised, winning his eighth consecutive race in 1:51.1 in his $30,000 elimination.
The top four finishers from each division will return to compete in the $317,000 Final on October 20.
The 5-year-old Grinfromeartoear stallion settled third early behind pacesetter Western Ace who set fractions of 28, 55.4 while Mister Big began to mount his attack first over as three-quarters went in 1:23.1. Mister Big began to edge clear on the final turn and won by nearly a length at the wire for an impressive win. Won the West was second, while Kenneth J was third. Western Ace finished fourth.
"I wanted to keep him close tonight, he knows what to do at the head of the lane," said Sears. "He loves to race from off the pace and track them down. I'm real happy with the way he handled the turns tonight."
Mister Big earned his 10th win of the year as his lifetime bankroll approached $3.1 million.
"He's definitely one of the best I've ever driven," said Sears. "I'm going to look back in a few years and really be able to appreciate just how great he was."
Four Friends Racing Stable's Palone Ranger ($14.80, Ron Pierce) won the remaining division in 1:51.3 for trainer Greg Peck. The 5-year-old Western Ideal stallion used the same tactics at Mister Big, battling first over as pacesetter Took Hanover began to yield after three-quarters in 1:23.3. Palone Ranger sprinted clear in the stretch and prevailed by a length over Maltese Artist and Booze Cruzin. Took Hanover held fourth as favorite Special Report had an off day and finished fifth.
"He's such a nice little horse," said Pierce. "He always gives you 100 percent and Greg Peck's done a great job with him. This race wasn't too tough on him."