By Ken Weingartner, USTA — So Much More is another year older, and perhaps even another year better.
Already a two-time O’Brien Award winner, the 7-year-old female pacer went the quickest mile of her career — 1:49.1 — just a month ago to win a Preferred for fillies and mares at Woodbine Mohawk Park. She has nine victories in 19 starts this season after winning 16 times in 2022, a total that tied for second most among all pacers in North America.
She has faced male rivals 10 times this year at the Preferred/FFA level at Mohawk, winning three of those races and finishing second on four occasions.
“I think she’s as good as she’s ever been right now,” said Don Beatson, an Ontario native who trains and co-owns So Much More with his son Kenneth and grandson Cole England. “She’s been pretty tough. We’ve (raced the boys) on a pretty regular basis; you’ve got to go with the races you can get. But it’s been fine. She’s treated us very good.”
On Saturday, So Much More will race outside of Canada for the first time in her 144-race career when she competes in the $100,000 Cleopatra Invitational for older female pacers at Scioto Downs in Ohio. She will start from post six with driver Aaron Merriman and is 4-1 on the morning line. Grace Hill is the 3-2 favorite in the field of eight.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Beatson said. “It will be a good race.”
So Much More was scheduled to race in the U.S. in 2021 when the Breeders Crown was hosted by The Meadowlands, but after receiving a bye to the Mare Pace final, she was scratched from the event because of sickness.
“We were all set to go, we were all keyed up for that,” Beatson said. “It was very disappointing.”
She got to compete in last year’s Breeders Crown final at Mohawk, where she finished third. So Much More also has finished third in three Roses Are Red finals during her career, including this year’s final in June. That race was won by Grace Hill.
For her career, the daughter of Big Jim-Ladysai has hit the board 113 times and earned $1.12 million in purses in U.S. dollars (nearly $1.5 million Canadian).
“Most of them level off, but she’s 7 now and just keeps going,” Beatson said. “We’re not surprised that she can beat horses and she can go with the boys, but the fact she keeps doing what she’s doing, the way she performs week after week, is a bit surprising.
“I don’t know how she does it; I guess she’s built that way. She’s got a good heart, good lungs, she’s still sound. And she looks forward to racing. She loves to load up and go.”
The Cleopatra is part of a 16-race Scioto card that also includes the $100,000 #SendItIn Invitational for older male pacers. The event features another Canadian visitor, Linedrive Hanover, who is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind 5-2 favorite Charlie May.
Linedrive Hanover saw his 2022 season come to an end in July because of injury, but not before he became one of only two horses to win a race that included Horse of the Year Bulldog Hanover with a Canadian-record 1:49 triumph in the Juravinski Memorial Cup at half-mile Flamboro Downs.
He has started four races this year and enters the #SendItIn off back-to-back FFA victories at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“I thought we had a top horse last year, and I think we’ve got a top horse this year again,” said Anthony Beaton, who trains Linedrive Hanover for owners West Wins Stable, McKinlay & Fielding, and Mac Nichol. “We’re very excited about the way he came back and he’s been very sound so far this year. We just have to look after him as best we can.
“He’s got a pretty steady dance card from here on out. We did skip the Meadowlands races (in July and August), but if this is a way to keep him a little fresher, we’ll take our lumps missing those races and hopefully we can pounce on them at the end of the year.”
Linedrive Hanover, a 5-year-old son of Betting Line-Lillian Hanover, has won 13 of 22 career races and earned $355,307. He has finished worse than third only twice.
He set his career-best time of 1:47, just one-fifth of a second from equaling the fastest mile ever in Canada, on July 1 at Mohawk.
“I thought the horse deserved to have a good mark like that on his card,” Beaton said. “He just never gets tired. I’ve never seen an animal with his energy level. He’s got more energy than you can shake a stick at.”
Linedrive Hanover will start Saturday from post seven with Merriman in the sulky.
“He’s looking good going into this race,” Beaton said. “Obviously, we would have liked a better post, but at least we’re in a starting spot. We’re looking forward to a good race this weekend, and from here on out the rest of the year as well.”
Charlie May, who finished third in last year’s #SendItIn Invitational, enters this year’s event off a 1:47.1 win in the William R. Haughton Memorial on July 15 at The Meadowlands.
Racing begins at 5:57 p.m. (EDT) at Scioto Downs.