While fans of the National Football League were focused on a bevy of games from both coasts, harness racing enthusiasts had ample action day and night at Lexington’s Red Mile during the afternoon and then later that evening at Rosecroft Raceway.
Sunday afternoon The Red Mile offered a glimpse of the sport’s best trotters and pacers in a superb, compact card that provided a bevy of memorable performances. There was a good blend of success favorites and upsets on the card as the chase for harness horse of the year got a little more interesting.
In the first open stakes race on the card, Manchego (Dexter Dunn) lived up to her role as the even-money choice in the $70,000 Allerage Farm F & M Open trot when she gained command in 26.3, rolled through wicked fractions of 53.3 and 1:21 then held safe Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svandstedt) to prevail in 1:49. A four-year-old daughter of Muscle hill trained by Nancy Johansson, Manchego notched her fifth win in 13 starts this year and now owns 24 wins and $1.85 million from 39 career outings.
Then one race later on the card in the $87,000 Allerage Farm F & M Open for pacers, Caviart Ally (Andrew McCarthy) overcame a first over bid to wear down 1-5 favorite Shartin N (Tim Tetrick) – the reigning queen of this division – for a neck score in 1:48.3. Caviart Ally now owns a 7-7-2 slate from 16 starts this year and handed Shartin N, who had been idle for month after scoping sick in Canada, just her second defeat in 16 starts this year. Shartin N finished second in the voting for 2018 harness horse of the year but is the early future book favorite to claim that honor this season.
One race later in the $270,000 Tattersalls for three-year-old colt pacers, Dancin Lou (Dunn) lefrt to secure good early position, yielded to 1-9 choice Southwind Ozzi (Brian Sears) before the half in 54.3, sat a loose pocket behind that one through the far turn, angled to the passing lane and overhauled the Little Brown Jug winner in the lane for a 9-1 upset in 1:49.4. It was the ninth win in 16 starts this year for Dancin Lou, a sophomore son of Sweet Lou trained by Tahnee Camilleri.
Two races later on the card, bettor’s Wish (Dunn) maintained his status as the top sophomore pacing colt in the land when he overcame a brief, first over bid to capture the second $270,000 Tattersalls split as the 1-5 choice in 1:48.4. A sophomore son of Bettor’s Delight trained by Chris Ryder, Bettor’s Wish recorded his third straight score, his sixth victory in his last seven tries and he now owns 11 wins and nearly $1.3 million banked from 15 seasonal outings by outlasting Captain Crunch (Scott Zeron) in the lane.
Then in the finale on the card, Greenshoe (Sears) continued his dominance over the sophomore trotting colts when he overcame an extended first over journey to capture the $4450,000 Kentucky Futurity by two lengths as the 1-9 choice in 1:51.1 over a rain-dampened oval. Beaten only twice in 12 starts this year, Greenshoe pushed his seasonal earnings past $1.2 million and joined the harness horse of the year discussion in the wake of Shartin’s stunning defeat earlier on the card.
That same evening at Rosecroft Raceway, Fashion Smile (Jonathan Roberts) easily lived up to his role as the 4-5 choice in the $10,000 Open Handicap for trotters when he overcame post eight to gain command before the opener, got a breather by the half in 58.1, faced modest pressure from Whitesville Dixon (William Hill, III) down the backside, shook loose from that one on the far turn and held sway through the lane for a three-length score in 1:56 for his second straight local score and fifth win in 14 seasonal tries.
Then several races later on the card in the $11,750 Maryland Open for older pacers, Romantic Interest (Milby) swept three-wide past the finish line the first time to gain command before the half in 55 flat, maintained an honest tempo down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:22.2 then edged clear in the lane to score by three lengths in 1:50.3. Trained and driven by Milby, Romantic Interest notched his fifth win from 30 starts this year and lowered his lifetime mark in the process while prevailing as the 5-2 second choice for owner Candy Milby.
One day earlier at the Red Mile, McWicked (Sears) got the best of a stellar field in the $186,000 Allerage Farm Open for older pacers when he benefited from a pocket trip and scored in 1:47.2. The reigning harness horse of the year and at least six of his rivals in the Allerage are slated to head to Rosecroft next month for the $100,000 Potomac Pace on Sunday, November 10. American History (Joe Bongiorno), hero of the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway last month, finished fourth as the 9-5 choice in the Allerage after a wide trip with excess cover.