by Ken Weingartner
When it comes to travel, Mark MacDonald is unlikely to get to stakes races any easier than his trip on Friday (July 5). MacDonald is listed to drive in two of the afternoon’s six Landmark Stakes events at Historic Track in Goshen, N.Y.; the town the 40-year-old driver calls home.
“I’m right around the corner,” MacDonald said, laughing. “That won’t be a tough commute. I wish they had all the races there. Life would be easy.”
MacDonald is scheduled to drive two horses for Historic Track-based trainer Ray Schnittker. One of his drives will come behind Rodeo Beach, a full sister to 2016 Dan Patch Award winner Huntsville, in the $9,500 Landmark Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers. Rodeo Beach, bred by Schnittker and Charlie Iannazzo, is making her career debut after two qualifier wins, both in 1:57.1.
“You never know until they actually race, but when they train down good, and they qualify good, you’ve got to have some high hopes for them,” MacDonald said. “I think she’s pretty special, but we’ll see. She’s got real quick speed. I’ve really liked everything she’s done so far.”
MacDonald’s other drive is with Captain Malicious in the $15,700 Landmark for 3-year-old male pacers. Schnittker has three of the five horses in the race, including Branquinho, who is a full brother to Huntsville. Branquinho, with Tyler Buter listed to drive, has won four of six races this year and $116,700. His victories include a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars and he finished second in the $300,000 Art Rooney Pace.
Both Branquinho and Rodeo Beach are out of the mare Wild West Show. Her first six foals, all sired by Somebeachsomewhere, won at least one race and five have earned at least six figures to date (with three banking in excess of $525,000).
Wild West Show and her offspring Cowboy Terrier, Stevensville, and Beachesofcheyenne all won Landmark Stakes at Historic Track.
“That’s a great family,” MacDonald said. “They all seem to be great racehorses.”
Friday’s Landmark Stakes are part of the annual Grand Circuit meet at Historic Track. The meet coincides with the sport’s Hall of Fame inductions, which will occur Sunday at the adjacent Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.
This year’s Hall of Fame class is led by trainers Blair Burgess, Joe Holloway, Jerry Silverman, and Linda Toscano; driver/trainer Ted Wing; owner Ted Gewertz; and communicators Mark Hall and Dave Little. Also being honored are horses Art Major, Captaintreacherous, Foiled Again, Graceful Touch and Southwind Serena.
Dr. Leroy Coggins, Charley Hinkle, Allen and Connie Skolnick, and Delinquent Account will be inducted as Harness Racing Immortals and Steve Oldford, the 2019 Museum Amateur Driving Champion, will be recognized for a sixth time.
Foiled Again will be in Goshen for the weekend, leading the post parade at Historic Track on Saturday and Sunday and welcoming guests to the HOF dinner Sunday night from 4-5 p.m. on the Walk of Fame.
Racing at Historic Track begins Thursday and continues through Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m. daily. Admission is free for children (12 and under); adults are $5 and includes a racing program. The stable area is open to visitors, to see the racehorses up close as they prepare for competition.
Sunday’s races include the annual Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge T. Gerry Memorial Trot, featuring a field of Hall of Famers. This year’s event will include inductees Burgess, Holloway, and Toscano as well as Wally Hennessey, David Miller, Brian Sears, Dick Stillings, and Jimmy Takter.
Following the race, the drivers will be available to meet fans and sign autographs at tables located adjacent to the grandstand.
“Hall of Fame weekend is great,” MacDonald said. “They always have a great atmosphere there. It’s cool. It’s grassroots racing at its finest. What really makes it great is that the grandstand is packed. Everybody likes working in front of a packed house. It’s just really enjoyable.”
Historic Track is located at 44 Park Place