07/02/2016 11:05PM

Northfield: Obrigado an easy winner of the Cleveland Trotting Classic

JJ Zamaiko Photography
Obrigado won his third major stakes race of the season after a dominant performance in the Cleveland Trotting Classic

Obrigado posted a 1:53 2/5 track record victory in the $180,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic for free-for-allers on Saturday night at Northfield Park.  The clocking was the fastest ever for a 5-year-old and up gelding trotter at the half-mile oval.

With regular pilot Mark MacDonald calling the shots, Obrigado moved from third to take the lead away from Shake It Cerry (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) at the 27 2/5 opening quarter.  Obrigado would go on to hit the half in just 56 seconds, without facing a challenge in that second quarter.

Homicide Hunter (Dave Palone) rolled the dice first-over out of the fourth position as Obrigado hit the half, but Homicide Hunter's bid was not successful, and he had begun to back up by the time Obrigado got to three-quarters in 1:25.

Obrigado continued to pour it on around the final bend and into the stretch, and he would go on to defeat Muscle Up The Goal (Aaron Merriman), who came up the passing lane after a three-hole trip, by 5 3/4 lengths.  Shake It Cerry finished in the third spot.

"He's really sharp right now, so I just let things play out when the gate opened," said MacDonald.  "I didn't rush him.  When everything settled, I moved him accordingly to the front, and he did the rest.  He's a really tough horse to beat when he's up close like that.

"I've been following this horse for the last two years.  He's just a nice horse.  I really like driving for trainer Paul Kelley, and the owners are super patient and super nice to drive for.  It's really rewarding winning for guys like that."

Kelley also co-owns Obrigado, a 6-year-old gelded son of Boy Band, with partners SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and Stable 45.  Obrigado has now won 38 times in his career, and he has earned $1,109,749.  The 3-5 favorite, Obrigado paid $3.40.