One of the best free-for-all pacing fields of the year is assembled in southwestern Ontario Friday night for the annual highlight of the Western Fair (London) racing season, the $150,000 Molson Pace.
Making the race doubly intriguing is the London oval itself: a half-mile track, with seven starters across (if they tried eight across, the outside horse would be starting from the front yard of the homeowner across the street), and the eight-hole as a trailer. This fact has traditionally been a major factor in the outcome of the race -- and betting on it.
#1, STATE TREASURER, 3-1 (the author's morning line), driveron the WFR proof: Defending champion in the Molson, State Treasurer has been a bit "under the radar" in the States, but he has won three straight Preferreds at Woodbine, all under 1:50, the last in 1:48.3. The veteran Christoforou is behind a horse that has the ability to control the front, and thus the outcome of the race, with a quick enough start -- which will be the key to the contest.
#2, BETTORS EDGE, 8-1,: Stuck with post nine in his last two standards, TVG legs at The Meadowlands, but coming home sub-26 in both. Showed early speed at Yonkers, but if the one horse leaves and the eight stays on his back, might have to take back. On paper, doesn't figure to get a great trip.
#3, BANDOLITO, 6-1,: The "little horse that can" has had only one start in the last 27 days, where he was shuffled to last at The Meadowlands. His best bet may be to try to join the outer flow and, with his lightning acceleration, try to sweep the field down the backside, but that may be a tall order here.
#4, APPRENTICE HANOVER, 4-1,: Since that impossible but magnificent second in the Levy Final, he has raced only once, on May 17 at Woodbine, where he sat second and came up a length shy to State Treasurer. If the pace gets overheated and he's in a good position entering the final turn -- look out!
#5, DANCIN YANKEE, 9-2,: Very good in the Levy, and brilliant in his last two starts at Pocono Downs, in the latter equaling the all-time record for 5/8-mile tracks of 1:47.2 after reaching the half in 52.2. In terrific form, but at a positional disadvantage here, with lots of speed inside, and a closer as fearsome as Apprentice Hanover in front of him if the flow develops as expected.
#6, P H SUPERCAM, 10-1,: Won the Levy Final when the inside opened up, and on the board in 13 of 14 starts. I'm not sure how Bartlett can work out any kind of favorable trip for the talented gelding from here.
#7, FOILED AGAIN, 8-1,: Yes, that says "8-1" next to the Six Million Dollar Man. Again, it's all positioning -- even the great Gingras will have to be a magician to work out the winning trip (tuck fifth early then second-over, or something like that). But he knows the terrain-- this is his sixth Molson start.
#8, CAPTIVE AUDIENCE, 9-2,: Meadowlands fans will remember him sweeping the Whata Baron Series. The main thing he has going for him here is the trailing post eight, with the speedy State Treasurer in front of him. If not locked in by parked horses, he could be well-placed throughout, and he has been in good form at Woodbine.
By Jerry Connors, for Harnesslink.com