HARNESS RACING: Am Nat victory: How Sweet it is
BY LARRY HAMEL firstname.lastname@example.org
Won The West's bid for an unprecedented American National four-peat came up a head short on Saturday night at Balmoral Park.
The two-time Breeders Crown champion tried mightily to uncork one of his patented late charges, but could not overtake a game Bettor Sweet, who held firm in the final yards under frantic urging by Hall of Fame driver John Campbell.
Bettor Sweet, the 5-1 third choice in a field of seven, came into the $156,000 American National aged pace with one win in 11 starts this year, but boasted plenty of back class.
''This horse has solid credentials,'' Campbell said. ''He was very good last year, but he took a while rounding into form. He had little problems that kept him from racing his best.''
Taking advantage of a front-end track bias, Campbell quickly moved the 5-year-old millionaire into the lead. He got a breather in the third quarter while waiting for the inevitable when Won The West would come calling.
The two battled stride for stride for the last eighth of a mile, with Bettor Sweet (1:50) getting his head in front at the wire. Won The West had captured Am Nats as a 3-, 4- and 5-year-old.
In other stakes during the American National Festival of Racing on a chilly, blustery night at Balmoral:
?Buck I St. Pat (1:55) won the battle of 2010 Breeders Crown champions, blowing past Enough Talk late in what turned into a match race to capture the $124,000 aged trot by 2Â½ lengths.
Enough Talk, driven by Yannick Gringas, cut reasonable fractions with the mare Buck I St Pat and Tim Tetrick biding time in the 2-hole.
''I was able to sit behind Yannick until the top of the stretch and was pretty confident because he didn't go too fast,'' Tetrick said. ''From there it turned into a sprint. An eighth of a mile out, I knew I had him beat.''
?One More Laugh (1:494/5) rebuffed the stretch challenge of Arache Hanover to take the $245,000, 3-year-old colt pace by two lengths. The Meadowlands Pace winner gave Tetrick his third stakes victory on the night.
?Pardon (1:544/5) more than likely put a final bullet point in her campaign for Illinois Harness Horse of the year with a 1- 253-222- -length triumph in the $95,000, 2-year-old filly trot. Dave Magee hustled her to the front in the second quarter, and she easily held off runner-up Swinging Beauty and third-place finisher Fox Valley Touche. Pardon, the 1-2 favorite, atoned for her loss to Touche on Super Night, winning for the 14th time in 15 starts.
?Anndrovette (1:53) pulled a major upset in the $191,000, 3-year-old filly pace, besting Breeders Crown champion Put On A Show (the 1-10 favorite driven by Tetrick) by a length. ''Show'' lost at least six lengths when she was bothered by a breaker and briefly went offstride.
Â*?Mystic Desire (1:53Â´/5) and Tetrick won the $127,000, 2-year-old male pace by 4- 206-140- lengths.