11/12/2016 11:13PM

Meadowlands: Wild finish in TVG FFA Trot goes Obrigado's way

Derick Giwner
Obrigado's connections celebrate in the winner's circle

In a fantastic finish, Obrigado kept his nose in front to capture the $400,000 TVG FFA final for open trotters at the Meadowlands on Saturday night. Sent off as an 8-1 offering, Obrigado and driver Mark MacDonald crossed the wire a nose in front of Crazy Wow in the 1:52 4/5 mile.

Obrigado started from the pole position but was quickly overtaken by Wind Of The North and then J L Cruze in the early sprint. Following the 27 2/5 first quarter, MacDonald pulled the Paul Kelley-trained Obrigado and brushed to the front.  Meanwhile, race favorite Resolve looked to have concerns in the early stages as he was sandwiched between the two outside leavers and dropped back to seventh.

Once in control, Obrigado was able to shut down the half in 56 2/5 and await for the outer tier to form. Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Colt Trot champion Bar Hopping was the first to pull, and that was indeed a tall order considering it was a step up in class for the son of Muscle Hill. Nevertheless, driver Tim Tetrick applied some pressure on the leader during the 1:25 1/5 three-quarters, and when the field turned into the stretch it actually appeared as if it was anyone's race.

Crazy Wow, with driver Yannick Gingras looking for an upset that would have given him three of the four TVG finals, came off Bar Hopping's cover and loomed with trot on the outside. Resolve was third-over and followed that cover but didn't appear to have it in the stretch, and Lookslikeachpndale and driver Scott Zeron rallied from fourth-over with an explosive late rush. Yet Obrigado, a gallant 6-year-old, just kept digging in under MacDonald's encouragement, and though horses were coming on both sides, he just kept his nose out in front, and that's where it remained when the field hit the wire.

Just a nose separated that top two, with Crazy Wow settling for minor honors, and it was just another head back to Lookslikeachpndale.  Resolve, second in the Breeders Crown, had to settle for fourth in the TVG, with Bar Hopping finishing fifth.

"I was in a spot I didn't want to be," said MacDonald of the three-hole. "I moved and I figured that Ake (Resolve) would follow me and cover me up."

Fortunately for MacDonald when that move didn't come he was able to settle the pace.

"I got a pretty cheap half, and he did the rest," said MacDonald, who wasn't sure if his horse had crossed the line first in the tight photo. "Yannick thought I won, and he's driven a lot more over here than I have."

Paul Kelley Stables, SRF Stables, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45 share ownership of Obrigado, now a winner of $1,562,019 lifetime.