By Bob Roberts — “Big Dogs” Ready for Sunday’s Potomac Pace at Rosecroft: One hundred grand has never been spent as well at a racetrack as it will Sunday night when the $100,000 Potomac Pace goes to the post at Rosecroft Raceway.
Not only is 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked among the eight pacers entered, but so are American History and Dorsoduro Hanover, the one-two finishers in the last weekend’s $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Six of the Potomac Pace entrants are racetrack millionaires.
“This is our fourth Potomac Pace and this is no doubt the strongest field we’ve had,” said Peter Hanley, Rosecroft’s racing secretary. “It should be a great betting race, too.”
“The big dogs are coming to play,” said Casie Coleman, trainer of McWicked the Potomac’s 5-2 morning favorite. “This is a very tough race for $100,000.”
There will be an extra $10,000 at the finish line for any pacer who breaks the Rosecroft track record of 1:47 3/5 set by Keystone Velocity in the 2017 renewal of the Potomac Pace.
American History will line up behind the mobile starting gate as the race’s hottest horse. He rallied up in the inside part of the stretch to win the Breeders Crown Open Pace by two lengths over Dorsoduro Hanover, an earner of $1.1 million who also returns in the Potomac Pace.
“He’s matured as a four-year-old and he’s going with these guys,” said Tony Alagna, the trainer of American History, following the Breeders Crown. “He’s so versatile. He can (win) on any size racetrack. He’s a special animal.
American History, a winner of 16 of career 42 starts and $1,037,656, will be handled by regular driver Joe Bongiorno. They’ll start from the favorable No. 2 post and are 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
McWicked, harness racing’s amazing eight-year-old champion, was the 6-5 betting favorite in the Breeders Crown but raced evenly to finish fourth, beaten four lengths.
“He raced big,” said Coleman. “The track (surface) wasn’t at its best and I had a bar shoe on him (left front). It’s hard to switching shoes late in the game, so we went ahead and raced him in the bar shoe. He had trouble getting a hold of the track.”
McWicked enters the Potomac Pace with career earnings of $4.9 million, second only to Foiled Again ($7.6 million) on the all-time trot/pace list money list. Despite drawing the No. 7 post position, he’s the race’s 5-2 morning line favorite.
The other three millionaires in the Potomac Pace are This Is The Plan ($1.4 million), Courtly Choice ($1.3 million) and Dealt A Winner ($1.2 million).
This Is The Plan’s 1:49 1/5 clocking in the Aug. 18 Prix d’Ete at Hippodrome Trois Rivieres is the fastest mile ever on a half-mile oval in Canada. Courtly Choice won this year’s Canadian Derby at Woodbine Mohawk, and Dealt A Winner is back after finishing fourth in last year’s Potomac Pace.
The Potomac Pace is the ninth race on the 13-race program that gets underway at 7:15 p.m. and also includes the $25,000 Maryland Invitational. The race for Maryland owned, sired, bred or foaled in the state horses has attracted a field of nine. Romantic Interest, a six-time winner in 2019, is the 3-1 morning line favorite.
Denny Best’s Race Analysis:
Very nice harness race, the 10th at Rosecroft Raceway, the Potomac Invitational Pace, featuring a solid field of ten.
ML favorite is McWicked (5/2) has to overcome the seven post. Second choice American History (3/1) has drawn an inside #2 post and is coming off victory in the Breeders Crown.
But my guess is may like the bigger tracks more than the 5/8 track.
The choice is #5 This Is The Plan (5/1), trained by Ron Burke and driven by Yanick Gingras, has been up against it the last couple of starts with bad outside draws, racing against the top two mentioned above. Rates to work out an ideal trip and be up to this challenge.
Betting Plan: Win and Place at 4/1 or better.