Day At The Track

Proof looks to prove best in Hempt

05:36 AM 29 Jun 2019 NZST
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Proof, harness racing
Curtis Salonick Photo

Harness racing trainer Brian Brown sends two horses into Saturday's $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, including morning-line favorite Proof, as he looks to win the race for the second time in three years.

Proof won the fastest of last weekend's three Hempt eliminations, stopping the timer in 1:48.1, which also is the second-quickest mile of the season for a 3-year-old pacer. Proof has won back-to-back races after posting a second and a third in his first three starts of the campaign. He starts Saturday from post No. 2 with David Miller in the sulky and is 5-2 on the morning line.

For his career, Proof has won eight of 16 races and $476,299. The homebred son of A Rocknroll Dance-Ginger And Fred is owned by Diamond Creek Racing.

"Early in the year, Proof just wasn't a hundred percent," said Brown, who won the 2017 Hempt with Fear The Dragon. "I'm not a hundred percent sure what it was, other than the last two starts I put some different pads on his front feet, and he's been a lot better. He was unbelievable last Saturday night.

"I hope he comes back to even near what he was. Sometimes when a horse throws out a race like that, he might bounce the next week; sometimes it takes a little out of them and they won't be as good. I trained him (Wednesday), had the vet watching him train, and we both thought he looked really good. He trained really good. He didn't go a lot, it's not like he could have trained bad, but he's in good shape, I believe, coming in."

Brown's other Hempt finalist is Air Force Hanover, who finished second to Shake The House in his elimination. Air Force Hanover, who starts from post six and is 8-1 on the morning line, will be driven by Dexter Dunn. He has won five of 19 career races and $215,888. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Allamerican Cognac is owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Rich Lombardo, and Bill Donovan.

"He didn't draw the better of the two, so he's got his work cut out for him," Brown said. "He raced really good last week. He was parked a quarter in :26 (seconds) and a piece and still was finishing good. I think he's coming to the race in pretty good shape.

"I think we're lining up pretty good here. Some of the best ones drew outside, so I think we're in good shape."

Air Force Hanover

Shake That House, who won his elimination in 1:49, drew post seven for trainer Chris Oakes and driver Brian Sears. The remaining elim winner, Captain Victorious, got post eight. He will have Yannick Gingras at the lines for trainer Ron Burke.

If all goes well following the Hempt, Brown plans to send Proof to the Meadowlands Pace and Air Force Hanover to the Adios. Brown-trained Workin Ona Mystery, who skipped the Hempt after a third-place finish in the North America Cup, will also go to the Meadowlands Pace.

"It's just finding the right spots for the right horse," Brown said.

Max C. Hempt was a renowned Pennsylvania-based breeder, whose horses were known for the prefix "Keystone," as well as a longtime director of the U.S. Trotting Association and Hambletonian Society. He served as the Hambletonian Society president from 1966-1984 and the creation of the Breeders Crown series evolved under his leadership. Hempt, who passed away in 1999, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1980.

Following is the field for this year's Max C. Hempt Memorial.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1-Lyons Night Hawk-Tim Tetrick-Gareth Dowse-6/1
2-Proof-David Miller-Brian Brown-5/2
3-Brassy Hanover-Corey Callahan-Eddie Dennis-15/1
4-Hurrikane Emperor-Dan Dube-John McDermott-5/1
5-Highlandbeachlover-George Napolitano Jr.-Kelly O'Donnell-20/1
6-Air Force Hanover-Dexter Dunn-Brian Brown-8/1
7-Shake That House-Brian Sears-Chris Oakes-4/1
8-Captain Victorious-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-7/2
9-Aflame Hanover-Andy McCarthy-Linda Schadel-12/1

Saturday's card at Pocono also features the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, and $500,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here.

by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

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