SKOWHEGAN — Once again, Bet You was the best bet at the Hight Memorial Pace.

Driven by Kevin Switzer Jr., Bet You claimed his second Hight title in four years, coming on strong in the last half-mile and grabbing the lead for good en route to a winning time of 1:53.3 at the Skowhegan State Fair.

Sailor Jerry was second, while Zack Lee took third. Stormyweatherahead was fourth and Shez Sugarsweet placed fifth in the five-horse field. Bet You paid $2.80 to win, while the exacta paid $11.80 and the trifecta went for $45.80.

Switzer, who had to leave to drive another race in Scarborough, didn’t linger in the winner’s circle afterward, but trainer Joe Nelson was thrilled to see his horse return to the top of the board at Skowhegan.

“He’s raced here before and he’s been good, but he came into this race really good today,” Nelson said. “My owner (Scott Dillon) is from here, Walter (Hight), we’re all good friends. So this is where we want to do our best. We race in other venues for money, but this is where we really want it. If we could have one race that we could pencil in that we could win, this is the one we’d like to win.”

Bet You also took the race under Nelson’s watch in 2016, and though 2017 (third) and 2018 (fifth) were disappointing finishes, Nelson knew the horse had another win in him.

“I was really confident in him today, I really was,” he said. “You can only race who’s here. I was really pleased with who he had to race against, and I was pretty confident coming in. He was just off a lifetime mark five days ago, so the horse was really sharp coming into the race.”

Bet You, driven by Kevin Switzer Jr., wins the Walter H. Hight Memorial Pace at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds on Saturday. It was Bet You’s second win in the event. Michael G. Seamans

Not sharp at the start, however. Bet You began the mile off the early pace, and it was Zack Lee, a 12-time winner this season, and Shez Sugarsweet who were 1-2 at the halfway point.

“He sometimes struggles getting off the starting gate from the inside, for one reason or another,” Nelson said. “I can’t pinpoint why, but leaving’s never been a great thing of his. … He likes to lay back off the pace a little bit.”

Bet You was up to third by the half-mile pole, however, and charging hard, and he turned that surge into a move towards the front. On the final run down the backstretch, Bet You took the lead for good, slipping by Zack Lee before the final turn.

“We raced really hard from the half to the three-quarter pole, but I was never really that worried about him,” Nelson said. “He’ll sprint with you really hard the third quarter, and that’s what he did today. … I didn’t think it was going to be easy for him, and it really wasn’t. Not until the three-quarter pole, when he cleared the front-runner was I overly confident.”

Bet You and driver Kevin Switzer Jr. (blue) trail Zack Lee, driven by Dan Deslandes at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds on Saturday. Bet You won the Hight Memorial Pace. Michael G. Seamans

That was it for the drama; Bet You only pulled away in the final turn.

“When he cleared that leader, I knew there was no passing him,” Nelson said. “That horse that was on the lead (Zack Lee) is no slouch. It’s never given, even though he was the odds-on favorite.”

As the race showed, however, he was the favorite for a reason.

“This horse has raced in it the four years consecutive, and he’s gotten beat a few,” Nelson said. “We were really fortunate to have the horse coming in (in) as good shape as he was, and he raced really well today.”


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