Megan Rogers has good reason for exuding nervous energy, after all she’s getting married in two weeks, but the feeling of anticipation goes beyond tying the knot.
Rogers, a relative newcomer to owning harness racing horses, has a chance to win two of the sport’s premier stakes – the North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers and Fan Hanover for 3-year-old female pacers – on June 14 at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario.
First, though, are elimination races Saturday at Mohawk. Mamas Fallen Angel takes the track first in the second of two Fan Hanover divisions, with the top five advancing to the C$400,000 final one week later. Mamas Fallen Angel, with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Norm Parker, is 8-1 on the morning line.
In the next race, Unlocked goes behind the gate in the first of three elims for the North America Cup. The top three finishers from each division and one fourth-place finisher chosen by lot advance to the C$1 million final. Unlocked, with Scott Zeron at the lines for trainer Erv Miller, is 10-1 on the morning line.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Rogers, a Chicago resident who bought her first horse in January 2012. “It’s almost serendipitous, just being at the right place at the right time. We’re very excited.”
Rogers has been interested in horses since childhood. Her friends had horses, which she got to ride, and she also worked at a summer camp mucking stalls just to be near the horses. Her fiancé, Brian Ogan, is a longtime harness racing fan and introduced Rogers to the sport.
“I love it,” Rogers said. “We always wanted to own horses and it was just the right time for us. It’s kind of a joint effort. With my love of horses and his love of racing, it was kind of a no-brainer.”
Mamas Fallen Angel is a half-sister to stakes-winner Odds On Equuleus. Rogers bought the daughter of Well Said-Latte Lady in an onGait.com auction last September. She had seen the filly, who was unraced at age 2, while picking up another horse from Odds On Racing a few weeks earlier.
“She looked beautiful,” Rogers said. “She didn’t race at 2 because she was green, so Odds On Racing turned her out. But we knew who the brother was and she looked amazing. We thought it was a great opportunity. We made a bid for her and got her.”
Mamas Fallen Angel has won four of eight races this year, all at The Meadows, and earned $60,214.
She was second in a division of the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes on May 3, finishing behind Also Encouraging and ahead of recent Lismore Pace winner Tyra. She was put on Lasix following the race and in her most recent start finished second by a nose to 4-year-old Jolt Of Passion in 1:52.3 in a conditioned race.
Rogers bought Unlocked privately last June. For the year, the colt won six of 12 starts and finished second on five occasions, including in the season-ending American-National Stakes.
This season, the son of Duneside Perch-Miss Major Power has a second-place finish among three starts. He is coming off a fourth-place finish from post seven in the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers on May 31.
“He really hasn’t had a chance to prove himself yet,” Rogers said. “We saw him race at Balmoral (Park in Chicago) and thought he was special. There was just something about him that we loved. I think he’s got a lot of potential. He’s got a lot of speed and guts; he’s a fighter.
“I do get nervous, but Erv is happy with his progress. I hope he’s got a great shot. I think this is a great opportunity for him.”
And a great chance for a new owner to burn off some nervous energy.
by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications