by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
It was a Sunday night reserved for the veteran pacers as eight of them descended upon Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, MD for the $100,000 Potomac Pace. These may not be the greatest horses of all time, but one thing is for certain: they all know how to race.
Filibuster Hanover, he a Little Brown Jug winner tried his best to wire the field, cutting all the fractions—26.2, 55.1 and 1:21.4. The third panel of 26.3 was a bruising one and took just enough out of Hanover for Western Fame to prevail in a good time of 1:49.2. The win was the 16th of 2018 for the 5-year old and the $50,000 first place prize pushed his career earnings over the $1 million mark. Filibuster Hanover hung on for second while Duplicated N took third.
The Potomac Pace is another example of how racetracks are trying—and succeeding—at keeping interest in the sport late in the calendar year. Like most sports, harness racing has a beginning and an end to the big race season. The Breeders Crown is at the end of October and after, most think that the big races are finished until the next calendar year.
But races like the Potomac Pace and last Thursday’s $260,000 Progress Pace at Dover keep the interest level going. Both races were for pacers and as we know, owners and trainers of veteran pacers are always looking for good races to run. At $100,000, the Potomac Pace might not be eye-popping, but the race always seems to draw eight solid horses each year. What these races do is keep the name horses in training a bit longer. With no Progress and Potomac Paces, it would be easy for the connections to put the horses on break until March of next year. Cash is King and when you throw some of it around, the horses will usually find a way to the race track.
Speaking of that Progress Pace for $260,000, it looked like Jimmy Freight was home-free before getting caught on the inside by This Is The Plan who won in stirring fashion in 1:50.2 over the 5/8 mile Dover layout. Jimmy Freight settled for second with one of my favorites, Dorsoduro Hanover third.
Foiled Again continued his farewell tour with a stop at Rosecroft in a race named the Foiled Again Invitational. The 14-year old was sent off at 1-5 and stalked the entire way before coming on strong down the stretch to win the $15,000 race in 1:53.4. The win was number 107 and the sports richest horse now nears $7.7 million in career earnings. Foiled Again will retire on December 31 when he races for the last time at The Meadows.
The Furgele feature race for Monday, December 2 is the $19,000 Open Pace at Northfield Park not because it features an immortal class of pacers, but because of the durability of the field. This is the 49th week of 2018 and Monday’s field of 9 features some very tough and steady horses.
Leading the way is Lancaster Park who will make start number 42 this season. He has 8 wins, 5 seconds and 5 thirds this year to go with over $80,000 in earnings.
Shooter’s Dream lines up behind gate 8 for the 36th time with a record of 5-8-3 to go with over $62,000 in purses.
Major Nemesis is “only” making his 24th start, but he has 9 wins and nearly $83,000 in earnings. All in all, the 9-horse field has made 273 starts this year, an average of 30 per horse and collectively, has earned $527,511, an average of $58,612. The money numbers might not blow you away, but the race numbers should. The winner gets $9,500 while second through fifth earns $4,750, $2,280, $1,520 and $950, solid pay for two minutes of racing.
These horses keep the sport going and it will be these horses that will get us through the long winter months in 2019.