Leap To Fame earns maximum points after two ID23 heats but was made to earn it.
Headline act Leap To Fame won was the most high profile winner of the three heats of the 2023 Inter Dominion Pacers Championship on night two at Albion Park, but the local star didn't have the easy outing that his $1.12 starting price should have suggested.
Leap To Fame won heat seven over 2138 metres – the distance of all the second round heats – and while happy to notch another win, trainer and driver Grant Dixon was left hoping that the tussle to the line with Spirit Of St Louis ($10), and the half-head margin, hadn't taken the sting out of the popular four-year-old towards Saturday's third round heat and the final.
"It was probably harder than we wanted," Dixon admitted.
"I thought we had to go when a few went forward but it was definitely a hard run."
Noting that Leap To Fame had pulled up well after Friday's heat over 1680-metres, Dixon will await the recovery over the next few days.
"We were really happy how he pulled up (after Friday night)," Dixon added.
"He was bright, and also tonight. Hopefully tonight hasn't affected him too much."
Heat five saw second favourite Speak The Truth ($4.40) dominate with good and sustained gate speed to win and climb the points table.
The heat mile rate of 1:51.9 – 0.2 seconds outside of Leap To Fame's track record – saw Speak The Truth defeat Pete Said So ($6) with $1.90 favourite Swayzee in third.
Driven by Cameron Hart, that third placing all but assured Swayzee - the Group 1 Blacks A Fake (2680m) winner - a start in the ID23 Pacers Final (also over the same distance) following his win in heat four over 1660-metres on Friday night.
"He was terrific the other night and even tonight, he felt good in himself, Sanderson said of Speak The Truth.
"He was better again and he had sharpened up so he should only continue to improve.
"Having the good barrier draw (2) was the key. We had to take advantage of it and he was happy to bowl along there in front.
Although there is still some way to go until the $530,000 final, the significance of a heat win was not lost on him.
"Where I'm from you dream of stuff like this, Sanderson said.
"It's good and the horse got the job done so it is definitely a bonus."
Also for Hart, Nerano's victory in heat six also put the six-year-old by Tintin In America into contention for the final.
Winning the heat over series fancy Better Eclipse ($1.95 favourite), who also rocketed up the points scoring table after also winning on Friday night, Nerano ($4.40) showed his dash that Hart has become accustomed to.
"I was saying the other day that he is close to the quickest horse I have driven over a couple of hundred metres," Hart said.
"(And) he's not one-dimensional at all. I came out really hard for a hundred metres to put myself in a position and kept working forward."
Three more heats for the pacers continue the ID23 series at Albion Park on Saturday night.