08/25/2013 11:23PM

Ferndale: A Thousand Aces pulls Marathon upset

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A Thousand Aces ($17.80), a 3-year-old gelding claimed for $4,000 at Sacramento, outdueled Tiger Cat in the lane to win the $30,550 C.J. Hindley Humboldt County Marathon on Sunday at Ferndale.

A Thousand Ace’s victory denied trainer Quinn Howey an almost-perfect Humboldt County Fair meeting. Howey set a record with 16 wins, but the win he wanted most in the Marathon eluded him. He saddled three runners, Tiger Cat, odds-on favorite Graeme Crackerjack, and Surfer Dave, who finished second, third, and fourth.

Inoel Beato, making his first trip to Ferndale, rode four winners on closing day, including A Thousand Aces. He won six of eight races in two days of riding.

“He was extremely game in that stretch duel,” Beato said of the neck victory.

A Thousand Aces covered the 1 5/8 miles in 2:53.80. Tiger Cat was 6 1/4 lengths in front of Graeme Crackerjack.

Melanie McDonald claimed A Thousand Aces from a non-winners-of-two, $4,000 claimer. He won a $12,500 claiming race at a mile on the turf at Santa Rosa before his Marathon win.

“This is definitely one of the greatest moments of my training career,” McDonald said. “Inoel rode him perfectly, and I could not be more proud of the horse. He and Tiger Cat ran so game to the wire.”

The victory, worth $18,050, gave A Thousand Aces career earnings of $45,260. The Awesome Gambler gelding is owned by Frank and Melanie McDonald and Verla McGraw.