06/11/2016 9:45PM

Scioto Downs: Better trip, better result for Obrigado in this year's Charlie Hill Memorial

Conrad Photo
Obriago moved to within a few thousand dollars of millionaire status after his win in the Charlie Hill Memorial

Obrigado, who was a traffic-troubled fourth in the Charlie Hill Memorial Trot last year at Scioto Downs, worked out a pocket trip and then came through in the passing lane to win this year's edition of the $210,000 event for aged trotters.

Driven by Mark MacDonald, Obrigado was pocketed behind 4-5 favorite Muscle Up The Goal (Aaron Merriman) through soft splits of 27 1/5, 57 3/5, and 1:25 3/5.  Natural Herbie (Verlin Yoder) was in his customary first-over spot for much of the journey, and he was in contention as well as they turned for the money.

In the stretch, Muscle Up The Goal gave way, with Natural Herbie on the outside and Obrigado down on the inside.  Those two battled all the way to the wire, but Obrigado got the nod by a neck over Natural Herbie in 1:53 3/5.  Flanagan Memory was up for third, followed by Muscle Up The Goal and Homicide Hunter.

"I had a pretty good spot right behind the car, so I wanted to take advantage of it," MacDonald said.  "Last year...it was kind of the same kind of race.  Bee A Magician got really soft fractions, and I got stuck third-over.  It was just horrible.  I was so far out of it.  It's a long way to come to be ten off at the head of the stretch.

"I've never raced against Muscle Up The Goal before, but it was playing into Obrigado's strength.  He's a huge sprinter.  Obviously off those fractions it's going to be tough to catch the horse on the lead, but it was definitely playing into my strength."

Trainer Paul Kelley also co-owns Obrigado, a 6-year-old gelding by Boy Band, with partners Linwood Higgins, SRF Stable, and Stable 45 of Maine and Florida.  Obrigado picked up his 37th career victory, and he has now earned $996,229.