Day At The Track

Won The West to become richest Pacer!

09:26 PM 03 May 2011 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Won The West
Won The West
Lisa Photo

When 7-year-old harness racing pacer Won The West returns to the races this year -- beginning with the upcoming Graduate at the Meadowlands -- he will be doing more than pursuing wins. He will be chasing history.

In a nutshell, Won The West will be seeking to join Hall of Famer Rambling Willie as the only pacers to win three consecutive Dan Patch Awards for best older pacer, as well as surpass Gallo Blue Chip as the richest pacer in harness racing history. He trails Gallo Blue Chip's $4.26 million by $773,935.

Last year, Won The West earned $1.36 million, which was his first million-dollar season. If he tops $1 million again, he will be the only pacer in history to reach that level twice after the age of 5.

Trainer Ron Burke says West's accomplishments are the results of the money to be made in the business right now, as well as "his ability to go get some every year."

Won The West has won 33 of 89 career races and earned $3.48 million despite missing his 2-year-old campaign. His earnings have increased annually, from $650,374 in 2007 to $683,147 in 2008 to $785,415 in 2009 and to more than a million in 2010.

The only other pacer to win more than $1 million in a season after the age of 5 was Maltese Artist, who earned $1.05 million in 2007 at the age of 6.

Maltese Artist also was a member of the Burke Stable.

"That's pretty neat," Burke said. "That was like Maltese's ultimate year. I don't think we've seen the best of the best of West. I think still he gets better every time. When Maltese did that, he was as good as he'd ever be."

Won The West last year won his second consecutive Breeders Crown trophy (no horse has ever won three in the open pace division) as well as the Canadian Pacing Derby, Molson Pace, Indiana Pacing Derby and a division of the U.S. Pacing Championship. He was second to Shark Gesture in the Graduate. He finished the season with seven wins in 19 starts, and 18 on-the-board finishes.

In his career, he also has won three American-National Stakes titles, the Bobby Quillen Memorial, and the Dan Patch Invitational.

"He's always around, no matter what," Burke said. "His greatest ability is his ability. He's a wonderfully talented horse that might have the perfect build for a Standardbred. He's very powerful and his conformation is basically flawless. It makes it easier for him to get over the ground and cover the ground. He's big and wide; everything about him is based on power."

Won The West will return for 2011 beginning with the Graduate. Eliminations, if necessary, will be May 7 and the $200,000 (est.) final is May 14. He prepped for the campaign with two qualifiers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He won both, the most recent on April 28 in 1:52.3.

"He's super," Burke said. "He was excellent in both qualifiers and came out of them good."

Burke admitted there was a little pressure to see Won The West do well and make history. He also said the support of the horse's owners -- the Kantzer family's Strollin Stable, James Koehler's Country Club Acres, and William Robinson -- made it easier to succeed.

"We have owners that allow you to do what's best for the horse; race him when he's ready and know when he's not ready," Burke said. "We've always done what's best for West and that's what we'll continue to do. We'll just hope that gets us to where we want to go."

2009 Breeders Crown Open Pace

by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Courtesy of the US Trotting Association's Web Newsroom

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: