08/26/2016 10:47PM

Vernon: Obrigado defends Crawford Farms Trot title

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Obrigado added the Crawford Farms Trot title to his hefty haul of stakes titles this season

Obrigado became the first two-time champion of the $193,000 Crawford Farms Trot on Friday night at Vernon Downs, bravely holding off Resolve through the stretch, and a flying Flanagan Memory late, for the victory in a new career-best clocking of 1:51 2/5.

Driven by Mark MacDonald, Obrigado got into an early outer flow behind Resolve (Ake Svanstedt), as they both tracked Musical Rhythm (Scott Zeron), who blasted out from the outside post nine to get the lead at the 26 second opening quarter.

Resolve would clear Musical Rhythm on the way to the half, but Obrigado then got around the new leader, crossing over to the pylons right at the 55 1/5 half.  Svanstedt would come right back to the outside, though, and Obrigado and Resolve would match strides around the final turn and over to the 1:23 4/5 three-quarters.

In the stretch Obrigado and Resolve continued to throw it down, but Obrigado forged a narrow lead in the final sixteenth.  Flanagan Memory (Brian Sears), who had been ninth and last at three-quarters, came with a huge late brush on the far outside, but at the wire it was Obrigado a quarter of a length to the good over Resolve, with Flanagan Memory half a length back third.  JL Cruze (John Campbell) was fourth after tracking Resolve's cover, and Homicide Hunter (David Miller) checked in fifth.

"It was really kind of almost a replay of last year's race in a lot of ways," winning trainer and co-owner Paul Kelley said.  "Just maybe a different cast of characters, but it was the same kind of battle.  My horse went almost an identical type of trip.  I've been doing this too long; you never envision how it's going to go.  We made just a subtle little bridle change with him, but outside of that, you just never know how it's going to go.

"He's a great horse, and we're very, very lucky to have him.  Jenna, his caretaker, and Kevin, my second trainer and blacksmith, they do a fantastic job.  They really spend countless hours with this horse, but the horse is just a great animal.  He takes care of himself, and if he gets beat one week, it doesn't matter.  He comes back and he shows up.  He always tries."

Obrigado, a 6-year-old gelding by Boy Band, is co-owned by Linwood Higgins, SRF Stable, and Stable 45.  Obrigado, who also won this year's Charlie Hill Memorial, Cleveland Trotting Classic, and Maxie Lee, picked up his 39th career victory, and he has now earned $1,283,629.  Sent off at 6-1, he paid $14.80 to win.