“It’s not really what I want but what else can you do,” said trainer Mark Steacy, “The three-year-old pace didn’t fill again and he needs to race, not qualify alone. This will be his third time against older horses.”
Steacy is talking about the pride and joy of his stable this year, three-year-old pacing champion Sunshine Beach, who will once again race against older horses this Saturday at Mohawk Raceway in the 4th race $34,000 Preferred Pace.
Many of the top three-year-olds are going Monday in the $311,000 Cane Pace, the first jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown, but Sunshine Beach was not stakes to that event.
“He has no real stakes left except for the Simcoe and at Lexington,” Steacy explained. “And I want him to race against horses, not the clock in a qualifier. That’s why he has ready raced against older horses.”
The first time Sunshine Beach went against older rivals was on June 29 at Mohawk and he beat them in 1:49.3. Then two starts back he faced them again at Mohawk in the Preferred Pace and was a game third, losing to Aracahe Hanover and Michael’s Power, who are most certainly no slouches in racing.
“Time wise and ability wise he is right on par with the horses he is going again,” Steacy said. “And at least he is racing for a purse too. That’s a bonus as opposed to going in a qualifying race. If he wins that’s great and if he loses that’s OK too as long as he puts in a good mile.”
With the exception of making a break as he just got on the lead in his Adios elimination race, Sunshine Beach has yet to put in a bad performance. The son of Somebeachsomewhere from the Artsplace mare, Light Up, sports five wins in ten starts with three third place finishes and earnings of $489,000 this year.
He will start from post seven for driver Chris Christoforou in an eight-horse field and is listed as the second choice in the morning line at odds of 7/2. The 3-1 morning line favorite is the five-year-old gelding, Camaes Fellow, in post five. He won his last start at Mohawk in a lifetime best 1:48.
Of the eight starters in the race, five are coming off victories but there is one thing that all of the older rivals have not done that Sunshine Beach can hang his hat on.
None of them have gone in 1:47.4 like Sunshine Beach did in his last start, winning the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine with a nose victory over Captaintreacherous.
“Like I said, I don’t like it,” Steacy reiterated, “But he is in fine shape, healthy and needs to race against good horses. And if all goes well after this season he will be racing against older horses next year too.”
By Steve Wolf