Clear Vision stormed to victory in the $150,000 Battle Of Lake Erie on a cool and cloudy Saturday night at Northfield Park, stopping the timer in 1:49.3, a new track record for gelding pacers, ages 5-year-old and older.
Driven by Brett Miller for trainer Ronnie Burke, Clear Vision used a first-over journey to secure the winning crown in the 29th edition of the Northfield’s classic.
The 8-year-old son of Western Hanover-Artistic Vision-Artsplace notched career victory 26 and his third seasonal triumph for owners the Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, PA, Weaver Bruscemi of Canonsburg, PA, The Panhellenic Stable Corp. of Oyster Bay, NY and James Koran of Ohio. The gelding added another $75,000 of the winner’s share to his already bulging bankroll of $1,912,868.
After favorite Bolt The Duer made a break in the first turn, Night Pro (Peter Wrenn) took the lead on the rail, with Clear Vision, who left from post four, in full pursuit in third, sitting behind Beach Memories to a :26.2 opening panel over a track surface listed as ‘fast.’
“When Bolt The Duer made a break, it changed the whole complexity of the race,” winning driver Bret Miller stressed. “His misfortune gave me the perfect opportunity to be right where I wanted to be—outside and moving going into that turn.”
Going through the second turn, Miller pulled Clear Vision and the pair began to move up alongside the leading Night Pro as the field headed to the :54.2 half. The pair continued to pace in near unison as the field rounded the turn heading into the backstretch.
“This is going to sound crazy but this horse has his best race when he’s first over,” said Miller. “He’s so game and can just live outside of horses forever.”
At the 1:22 three-quarter pole, Clear Vision and Night Pro began to draw away from the rest of the field, battling it out through the final turn and into mid-stretch, before the former pulled away from his rival to finish first under the wire by a full length. Another Burke trainee and the richest Standardbred of all time in North America—Foiled Again, with Yannick Gingras in the sulky—finished a strong third.
“The Burkes have so many great horses in their stable that Clear Vision often is in the shadow of some of them,” Miller admitted. “But he’s just as game and just as tough as any of them.”
Clear Vision has finished first, second or third in 80 of his 151 career starts, and took a top mark of 1:48.2F at Tioga Downs as a 6-year-old. Last year he was a solid third in the Battle of Lake Erie to the winning A Rocknroll Dance, clocked in 1:50.
“He had a ton of pace at the wire tonight, “Miller stressed. “He amazes me, because he just can go on forever.”
Miller, 40 and a native of Columbus, Ohio, had flown into Cleveland just 45 minutes prior to the race, having driving in several Adios eliminations at The Meadows raceway earlier in the evening. To date he’s driven 6,652 winners to more than $53.3 million in career earnings.
Clear Vision, a $180,000 yearling at the 2007 Lexington-Selected Yearling Sale, is the first and most prolific foal out of the top race mare Artistic Vision p, 4, 1:50.2M ($634,808). He is a half-brother to Rock N Roll Heaven (by Rocknroll Hanover) p,3,1:47.2, a 20-race winner of $2,748,818; Heavens Bettorhalf (by Bettor’s Delight) p,3, 1:54.1 ($42,473); and to Bigrisk (by Somebeachsomewhere) p,2,Q1:54 ($91,507).
The complete order of finish for the 2014 Battle of Lake Erie, with drivers & trainers listed is: Clear Vision (Brett Miller, Ron Burke); Night Pro (Peter Wrenn, Dale Decker); Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke); Fool Me Once (Aaron Merriman, Mark Ausin); Apprentice Hanover (Dan Noble, Ben Wallace); Twilight Bonfire (Tony Hall, Rich Gillock); Beach Memories (Josh Sutton, Brian Brown); and Bold The Duer (Mark Macdonald, Peter Foley).
Falcon Seelster, Quite A Sensation, Jaguar Spur, Dorunrun Bluegrass, Cambest, Riyadh, Gallo Blue Chip and Maltese Artist are just a few of the top pacers who have won the Battle Of Lake Erie in years past.