HARNESS RACING IN BRIEF: Four-peat would be real feat
BY LARRY HAMEL firstname.lastname@example.org
There's nothing a bettor covets more than a horse who gives an honest effort. Chicago horseplayers certainly have witnessed a model of consistency in Won The West, who has crossed the finish line first in all three of his starts in the prestigious American National stakes series.
Tonight at Balmoral Park, the 6-year-old warhorse can put himself in rare air if he wins the American National aged pace. No horse has captured four Am Nats. Only Won The West and the immortal pacer Bret Hanover (who won as a 2-, 3- and 4-year-old in 1963-65) have taken three. The Western Hanover gelding has more than a fair-to-middling shot at a four-peat, rating as the 8-5 morning-line favorite among a field of seven that boasts four millionaires and three who have banked at least $843,000.
After he geared up for the $156,000 Balmoral race with a victory in the $125,000 Indiana Pacing Derby at Indiana Downs, trainer Ron Burke opined this of his triple millionaire and two-time Breeders Crown champion: ''I would suspect he'll be even better next week.''
Burke -- who leads all North American trainers in victories (764), earnings ($16.67 million) and starts (3,394, almost double his closest competitor) -- has the utmost confidence the real Won The West will show up on race day.
''His greatest attribute is consistency,'' Burke told the media. ''I don't even know if he even has [had] any bad races. When he isn't the winner, he's always within a couple of lengths of the horse that finishes first.''
Won The West's 2010 resume bears that out. In 18 starts, he has been first, second or third 17 times. One of his seven victories came on Oct. 9 in the $500,000 Breeders Crown open pace, which has vaulted him into No. 2 in the standardbred poll behind Horse of the Year favorite Rock N Roll Heaven.Last laugh-
All-world driver Tim Tetrick has a keen eye for horseflesh, and he calls 3-year-old pacing superstar Rock N Roll Heaven ''maybe the best horse I've ever seen, right there with [2008 Horse of the Year] Somebeachsomewhere.''
That's why he is confident One More Laugh will finish the season strong tonight in the $245,000 American National 3-year-old male pace and next Friday in Maywood's Windy City Pace.
''Every time Rock N Roll Heaven isn't in the race, One More Laugh wins by 3-4 lengths easy,'' Tetrick said. ''He has been to every dance during a long year. He can pace a mile in [1:47] or 48.''
The highlight for One More Laugh, ranked 10th in the national poll, was a victory in the $1 million Meadowlands Pace in mid-July. The McArdle gelding is the 8-5 morning-line choice among a decent-enough field of nine in the Am Nat.
Tetrick also will be in rein to 2010 Breeders Crown champions Buck I St Pat in the $124,000 aged pace and Put On A Show in the $191,000 3-year-old filly pace.AM NAT FESTÂ**What, when, where: American National Festival of Racing, tonight (first post 7:10), Balmoral Park, 26345 S. Dixie Hwy., Crete.
Â**Featuring: Six Am Nat stakes for pacers and trotters with purses totaling $938,000. The races have lured four horses ranked in the national top 10.
Â**Info: www.balmoral park.com.
Â**Picks: Tom Krish's Balmoral line | Page 39