How Did They Do It?

Rosecroft scores a great field for its $100,000 Potomac Pace.

by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228

In the last two weekends, we saw two huge events in the sport of Horse racing.  October 27 and 28 gave us the Breeders Crown and November 3 and 4 gave us the Breeder’s Cup.  The Crown featured 12 races, the Cup 13.  If you love big-time events, these four days were like being a kid on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day respectively.

Unlike the thoroughbreds, the Breeders Crown really isn’t the end of the racing season, in fact, to some, it was merely another race on the schedule.  What The Hill won the Breeders Crown 3-year-old trot but there he was, back at Hoosier Park running in the Erskine Memorial, where he would finish ninth in a 10-horse field. Gun Runner just won the Breeders Cup Classic.  He will not race the rest of the year.  A not-so-subtle difference in the two sports to be sure.

Is that good for the sport–to race back that quickly after a major victory?  Last week, What The Hill blazed to glory and one week later, a dull ninth.  That’s one thing people love about harness racing–the horses and more importantly, the connections are not afraid to go to the post and race.  We know that the thoroughbreds take extended breaks between races, and as much as I like seeing pacers and trotters run, it might have been wise to let What The Hill rest on his Breeders Crown laurels for a couple of weeks.

Tonight (November 5), Rosecroft Raceway has the $100,000 Potomac Pace.  It’s a nice purse, but the field is exceptional with All Bets Off, Dealt a Winner, Mel Mara, Boston Red Rocks, Keystone Velocity, Mach It So, Bit of a Legend N, and Wakizashi Hanover.  The ninth horse is Split The House who like What The Hill is attempting to win another stakes race after winning a Breeders Crown race just one week ago.  This is a very good field for a relatively low-pursed stakes race.  Let’s give Rosecroft Raceway some kudos for staging this event.  The track was purchased by the Stonach Group, the same group that owns Laurel, Pimlico and Gulfstream and appear committed to make harness racing viable as well.  They are hoping the land the Breeder’s Cup for Laurel Park in 2019, 2020 or 2021.  It makes me wonder if Rosecroft could someday bid for the Breeders Crown?

Split The House will start from the 9 and one has to wonder if he will suffer the Breeders Crown hangover that What The Hill did last night at Hoosier Park. The race is scheduled for 9 pm and does not lack for experience.  Split The House has made six starts and Mel Mara 13, but the others have all made at least 17 with Wakizashi Hanover preparing to start for the 29th time this year.  Both Bit of a Legend N and Keystone Velocity have 7 wins this year and it was Bit of a Legend N that won the Gerrity Memorial Pace at Saratoga on July 22, which to me is still the best race I’ve seen this year.  Rosecroft features a 5/8 mile track, so it is possible to rally there and the there is a strong chance that 1:50 will be broken, with some saying 1:48 and change could happen.

Boston Red Rocks is perhaps the most intriguing of the nine.  He has raced 17 times in 2017, collecting six seconds and four thirds, but has yet to register a win.  Something tells me that he’s due, and he’s been close several times.  Could this be the spot where he makes that coveted trip to the Winner’s Circle?

 

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