Day At The Track

After 8 different trainers Mainland Key keeps producing

02:56 AM 09 Nov 2018 NZDT
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Mainland Key N, harness racing
Mainland Key N in prior win

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 8, 2018 -- At 13, Mainland Key N probably has reached an age where he'd rather kick back, nosh carrots and binge-watch Season 3 of Mr. Ed. But trainers keep claiming him -- he's performed for eight of them this season alone -- so the old boy keeps working . . . and keeps producing.

In fact, when he goes forward in Saturday's third race at The Meadows, he'll be looking to edge closer to $900,000 in career earnings, an impressive bank account for a hard knocker. He'll leave from post 8 for Dan Rawlings and owner/trainer John Sullivan. First post is 1:05 PM.

Mainland Key N had 26 starts and a little more than $20,000 on his card when he was imported from New Zealand. He sparkled stateside, competing against some of the best. The son of Shiney Key-Eastwood Bluejeans enjoyed his finest season in 2011 when he banked more than $200,000 and sprang a 32-1 upset in a leg of the prestigious George Morton Levy Series.

He's taken season's marks at five different venues -- Dover Downs, Harrington, Harrah's Philadelphia, The Meadows, Yonkers -- indicating that he never had to take his racetrack with him to succeed.

While he's stayed largely sound, diminishing speed has forced trainers to race him where he can win -- in claimers. That's how he ended up in eight stables this year -- 10, if you count the two stints each for trainers Kevin Johnson and Marcus Marashian. Sullivan grabbed him Oct. 6 for $10,000.

"I wasn't concerned that he's 13," Sullivan says. "He still has a whole year to race, and he's pretty sound. I had a couple other horses in for $10,000, and this guy was always beating me. He'd already earned about $50,000 this year, so I figured he had to be worth $10,000. He still starts 30 to 40 times a year, and he's definitely a classy old horse. He has to be, to have made that kind of money."

Mainland Key N has seven wins this year and has hit the board in 21 of 33 outings, but he's had little recent luck with post positions. Counting Saturday's race, he's drawn post 6 or deeper for nine of his last 10 races, prompting Sullivan to make a change.

"He loses interest when he gets away towards the back, so I dropped him to the $7,000-$8,000 Claiming Handicap. Sure enough, he drew post 8 again."

Sullivan, by the way, has become something of the go-to guy for geriatrics. He also trains 9-year-old Thiswayorthehighwy, who's banked $212,651, and Sam Hill, a fan favorite who at age 12 has earned $634,827 and continues to compete in fast classes.

"I try to get them back together and do what I can for them," Sullivan says. "I think I've helped a couple of them. They have bumps and bruises, so you have to pick your spots when you train them. But they're warhorses. They know what to do."

The Meadows Racetrack & Casino today announced changes involving guarantees for its daily Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers.

Beginning Saturday, Nov. 10, The Meadows no longer will offer pool guarantees for each Pick 4 and Pick 5 wager. Instead, the track, in association with the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Initiative, will offer a $5,000 total-pool Pick 4 guarantee on Mondays and Tuesdays only.

While there will be no scheduled Pick 5 guarantees, The Meadows indicated it may add "instant" Pick 4 and Pick 5 guarantees when pools are carried over.

Each live card at The Meadows features a Pick 4 (races 4-7), a Pick 5 (final five races) and a Super Hi-5 (final race).

by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

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