WINDSOR — Everything fell into place for Kevin Switzer Jr. and Malek Hanover on a perfect afternoon for harness racing Monday at Windsor Fair.

Switzer took advantage of a rapid start, pulling Malek Hanover into the lead at the five eighths mark, then coasted home to win the 10th annual Windsor Invitational. The win was the second in a row for Malek Hanover who tied the track record for the mile in 1 minute, 54 1/5 seconds, set by Royal Art in 2002.

“It set up perfect,” Switzer said. “They went out fast, they kind of came back to him and he likes that. When the pace slowed down a little bit I got my horse out and going. I attacked real quick, then about 5/8 straight up the backside he cleared. I figured once he cleared, he was a winner from there.”

The five horses in the race competed for a purse of $12,000 with $6,000 going to the winner. Across the board, Malek Hanover paid $15.60, $3.00 and $2.10. Favorite Viper Hanover, driven by Windsor native Jason Bartlett, finished second after leading for the second quarter mile.

“My horse wasn’t that good today,” Bartlett said. “That was a pretty fast quarter there. On this track it’s really fast. The first quarter kind of hurt him, too fast.”

Bartlett, who cut his driving teeth at Windsor, took two days off from his busy schedule at Yonkers Raceway to compete on his home track and renew acquaintances. His reputation preceded him as he was bet heavily through both days and for the most part followed through with seven victories.

“It was good to see family and friends and the racing with the drivers I grew up driving with,” Bartlett said. “It was enjoyable.”

Mr. Nice Guy, driven by Switzer’s father Kevin, placed third. But this was junior’s day on one of the better horses in the state.

“He’s a very good horse,” Switzer said. “If you took him out of state he’d be a forty or fifty thousand dollar claimer. He’s raced really good the last two weeks. He was second last week at Scarborough to Holy Louie who is probably the best horse in Maine right now.”

The 8-year-old gelding is owned by Ledgehill Farm LTD of Arnprior, Ontario and is stabled at Windsor. It has lifetime earnings of $219,571 and a lifetime mark of 1:51.3. Bo Sowers had trained Malek Hanover for the past four years.

“Last year he won this race and I think he just likes this track,” Sowers said. “He seems to race full-out here. It was a superb drive by Kevin Switzer. He read it well and he knew when he had to move.”

Around the track: Awards were presented by race director Bill McFarland to the top trainer and driver of the week. Shawn Nye was named top trainer. His horses won nine times during the week. Chris Long, who posted 12 wins, was named top driver . . . Switzer didn’t drive Malek Hanover in last year’s Windsor Invitational. The horse was driven by Shawn Gray while Switzer drove Western Comfort and finished second.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.