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FORT WASHINGTON, MD - Shamballa has clashed with Always B Miki and/or Wiggle It Jiggleit in his six most recent starts, each time finishing behind harness racing's highly celebrated superstars. With Always B Miki recently retired and Wiggle It Jiggleit on a much-deserved vacation, Shamballa will assume the starring role in Tuesday evening's $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway. Trainer Rick Zeron, who owns the 6-year-old gelding in a partnership with Tao Racing, Howard Taylor and Cool Cat Racing, looks forward to participating in the inaugural Potomac Pace but expresses no feelings of frustration over Shamballa's fate in his last six outings. "I always looked at it as an honor to have a horse that good to be able to phone a racing secretary up and enter my horse to take on those horses," Zeron said. "I never ever took it as being frustrating. I looked at it as a challenge as in, 'Can we beat the big boys today? Or are we going to be second or third best.'" Of course, it's not like Shamballa always had to settle for second or third behind Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit. The son of Somebeachsomewhere, in fact, is the only horse to beat both Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit in the same race, capturing the $225,000 U.S. Pacing Championship at Meadowlands Aug. 6. The trainer's son Scott Zeron was at the controls for that day and will drive him once again at Rosecroft. "The race set up quite well, because Wiggle It Jiggleit went out there with Always B Miki. Miki didn't back up; he didn't get in the hole; he wanted the front end and Wiggle It Jiggleit didn't want to give it to him. So they were fighting, scrapping, pretty good going to the quarter-pole right through to the half," Rick Zeron recalled. "My son was sitting back about fifth with Shamballa and moved him to the inside going to the half. Freaky Feet Pete came out of the 3 Hole and took a run at Always B Miki on the front end. We just followed him, second over, and halfway down the lane Scott tipped him out and got the jump on Freaky Feet Pete and Always B Miki. Wiggle It Jiggle It at the time was caught in a hole. When Wiggle It Jiggleit broke loose, we were too far gone. We were at the wire." Shamballa's victory over 'The Big Three' was a big one but the most memorable race of the year for his trainer was his gelding's second-place finish at the Red Mile Oct. 9, when Always B Miki beat him by 1¼ lengths while pacing the fastest mile in harness racing history with a 1:46 clocking. "The big race obviously was the U. S. Pacing Championship, but the highlight of the year was when we raced in the Allerage in Kentucky with Always B Miki," Zeron said. "Wiggle It Jiggleit wasn't there that week. I told Scott, "You go on out of there. Always B Miki will come and pace around you. See if you can stay with him and try to beat him down the lane. The race went in 1:46 flat and my horse went in 1:46-and-1. We came home in 26-and-1." Shamballa has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in a field of eight pacers that includes Mel Mara, rated second at 3-1 on the strength of back-to-back Open Preferred victories at Yonkers following a third-place finished behind Wiggle It Jiggleit in a $250,000 Yonkers Invitational Oct. 15. Rated third at 4-1 is Mach It So, who finished second in the Nov. 14 $400,000 TVG Pace, in which Always B Miki called it a career on a winning note. Corey Callahan is scheduled to drive Mel Mara, while Tim Tetrick is slated to guide Mach It So. Tetrick's younger brother Trace Tetrick has been named to drive Wakizashi Hanover, who is rated at 10-1 but rates consideration looking to an upset victory over Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $1 million North America Cup at Mohawk last year. The 4-year-old gelding, who was subsequently sidelined with a breathing problem that required two surgeries, returned to winning form last time out with an Open Handicap victory at Dover Downs in 1:49.2. All Bets Off, Keystone Velocity, Split the House and Dealt a Winner round out a well-balanced field. The Potomac Pace has been carded as the 10th race on a 13-race program with a first-race post time set for 6:40 p.m. Admission and parking are free. David Joseph  

FORT WASHINGTON, MD – Brian Burton stood in the paddock before the first race one recent evening at Rosecroft and was asked what the significance is of Tuesday evening’s $100,000 Potomac Pace at the 67-year-old harness racing facility. The trainer and driver didn’t hesitate. “It gives us a little shine,” he said. It’s been nearly 10 years since Rosecroft held a race worth $100,000 or more. The historic facility has hosted Breeders Crown races, the Messenger Stakes and William E. Miller Memorial. Its guests have included Elizabeth Taylor, George Foreman, George Plimpton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ken Stabler and Oleg Cassini. But it hasn’t been since the $122,170 Wayne Smullin Memorial in 2007 that a race of significance like the Potomac Pace has been held at Rosecroft. Yes, the Potomac Pace will be Rosecroft’s first big race since the iPhone was introduced. “It’s very exciting,” said Thomas Cooke, president of Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners’ Association, which represents owners, trainers, drivers and grooms involved in Maryland’s Standardbred industry. “I look at this as a rebirth. It’s opportunity to show the track, the market and the product. I’m impressed by the caliber of drivers and horses coming in. It’s a win-win for everybody.” The Potomac Pace - featuring some of the best aged pacers in the country including Shamballa, Mach It So, All Bets Off, Wakizashi Hanover and Keystone Victory – is one of the first steps by the Maryland Jockey Club to reinvigorate Standardbred racing in Maryland. “We have committed ourselves to showcasing Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing in Maryland,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, whose parent company, The Stronach Group, purchased Rosecroft from Penn National Gaming earlier this year.  “We just signed a two-year extension with Cloverleaf,” he added. “Along with the Potomac Pace, we also are talking about a few Sire Stakes races in the spring and fall. Our experience in Thoroughbred racing has shown us that big days breathe life into the racing program. Come winter after this meet, we’re looking forward to doing some renovations to the grandstand and facility for our regular customers.” Sinatra and Cloverleaf have also increased the number of racing days for 2017 from 54 to 60. Rosecroft, which opened in 1949, has seen plenty of ups and downs throughout its history. The track has gone through several ownerships since the late 1980s and was closed to live racing for several years. But Sinatra, Cooke and others are hoping Tuesday’s Potomac Pace is the beginning of better things. “This is a great race,” Burton said. “[Racing secretary) Peter Hanley did an incredible job putting this race together, but we have to keep upgrading our stock and showcasing our sport. But I think this is an incredible race Tuesday night and a start. To be honest, while we would have loved to have had Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki, I think this is a better horse race and betting race. I think you’re going to see a huge performance. I think you could see a track record.” Cooke admits he would like the track record of 1:48 2/5 set by his own Nuclear Breeze to stand a little longer. But he also admits a big night of racing Tuesday is the first step in helping Maryland Standardbred racing. “I don’t want to see a track record,” said Cooke, laughing. “But this is a big opportunity for all us to show new owners and partners we’re moving forward. It’s a big step.” Rosecroft Raceway is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; XpressBet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry. For more information contact David Joseph at or call 954.457.6451 David Joseph  

FORT WASHINGTON, MD – Wakizashi Hanover reached the pinnacle of the harness racing world when he pulled off an upset victory over odds-on favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $1 million North America Cup at Mohawk Raceway in June 2015. The pacing son of Dragon Again subsequently faded from the Standardbred spotlight and was sidelined due to a breathing problem that required two surgeries. The 4-year-old gelding, though, is on the comeback trail and may be ready to return to the spotlight in Tuesday evening’s $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway. A winner of $1.1 million in 2015 and named Canada’s champion 3-year-old pacing colt or gelding, Wakizashi Hanover became hampered by a paralyzed flap in his airway the end of the 2015 season and he underwent tie-back surgery in April. Winless in four starts after returning to action in July, the Pennsylvania-bred pacer underwent a second surgery in August that appears to have breathed new life into his racing career. “He had two different surgeries. The first was OK, but it wasn’t sufficient. He had another surgery and, since the second surgery, everything seems much closer to where he’s supposed to be,” said Jim King Jr., who trains Wakizashi Hanover in a partnership with his wife Joann Looney-King. In his two official starts since returning to action in November, both at Dover Downs in Delaware, Wakizashi Hanover lost a photo finish while finishing second and, most recently, closed from far back to capture an open handicap by a nose in 1:49.2. “He paced his last half in 53-and-3 (seconds) – that’s pretty good. I don’t care if you’re at the Meadowlands, 53-and-3 is pretty good,” said the 64-year-old trainer, who is based in his native Delaware. Wakizashi Hanover had demonstrated a strong late kick in the North America Cup, in which he defeated Wiggle It Jiggleit by three-quarters of a length in 1:48 for driver Tim Tetrick. “We were pretty confident going in, even knowing that Wiggle It Jiggleit was in the race. I had never seen a horse like Wiggle It Jiggleit before,” King said. “My horse was all about himself at that time. In the elimination, he was super-outstanding. His last quarter was 25-and-2 (seconds) against a good bunch of horses. The next week, he tripped out and did what he needed. He followed Wiggle It Jiggleit around there and, when the time came, he accelerated.” A similar performance would make Wakizashi Hanover mighty tough to beat in the Potomac Pace, which drew a field of eight, including Shamballa, who became the only horse to beat Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki in the same race while registering a career mark of 1:47.1 at Meadowlands in August. “I think that’s a tall order, but I think he can compete with the horses he’s in with (Tuesday). I saw a lot in the last two weeks that wasn’t there earlier, so I think he’s on the comeback trail,” said King, who will hand the reins to Trace Tetrick, Tim Tetrick’s younger brother. “I kinda wish he had one more start under him, but you go when the opportunity is there. I’m not going to be astonished if he wins. I think he has a real chance.” David Joseph

FORT WASHINGTON, MD – The ongoing revitalization of the Maryland harness racing industry will be on full display at Rosecroft Raceway Tuesday evening when an accomplished field of eight invitational and stakes pacers will compete in the inaugural edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace. Shamballa, the only horse to defeat superstars Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit in the same race, and Mach It So, who finished second behind Always B Miki at Meadowlands last Saturday, were entered for the one-mile pace on Rosecroft’s acclaimed five-eighths of a mile oval. “We’re excited to bring this kind of race and this caliber of horses to Rosecroft,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, whose parent company The Stronach Group acquired Rosecroft this year. “We think this is one of the best races for older pacers this year. We want to thank the horsemen who will participate in this race, as well as the horsemen at Rosecroft, who have supported us and have been partners with us since this summer. We also want to thank our great fans who continue to support Standardbred racing in Maryland.” Rosecroft once ranked among the premier Standardbred racetracks, regularly hosting many of the sport’s brightest stars, including Mack Lobell, Cam’s Card Shark and Forrest Skipper. The scheduling of the Potomac Pace, which has attracted many of most celebrated pacers and most prominent trainers and drivers in the country, signifies track management’s commitment to revitalize Maryland’s harness industry. “Our goal is to continue building racing in Maryland and we think this is a major step in the right direction for Rosecroft,” Sinatra added. With Always B Miki recently retired and Wiggle It Jiggleit on the sidelines for a couple months, the Potomac Pace will be contested by most of the best horses currently in training. Shamballa and Mach It So will be joined behind the mobile starting gate by Wakizashi Hanover, Dealt a Winner, Keystone Velocity, All Bets Off, Mel Mara and Split The House. Shamballa, a 6-year-old gelding owned by trainer Rick Zeron, TAO Racing, Cool Cat Racing and Howard Taylor, registered his career mile mark of 1:47.1 at Meadowlands Aug. 6 while finishing a length ahead of 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $225,000 U.S. Pacing Championship, in which Always B Miki finished fourth. Shamballa finished second, beaten by a length, when Always B Miki set a world record at the Red Mile in 1:46 Oct. 9. Scott Zeron will drive his father’s pacer in the Potomac Pace. Mach It So, trained by Jeffery Bamond Jr., is a winner of 33 career races and $1.6 million in purses while regularly competing against the best free-for-all pacers. Tim Tetrick is scheduled to return to the sulky after driving the 6-year-old gelding to his runner-up finish behind Always B Miki last weekend. Tri County Stable’s Wakizashi Hanover registered a career achievement last year by defeating Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $1 million North America Cup at Mohawk Raceway. The son of Dragon Again, who will be driven by Trace Tetrick, broke through with a 1:49.2 victory in a Dover Downs Open Pace last week after missing the first half of the 2016 season following throat surgery. Mel Mara, a two-time open winner at Dover since finishing third behind Wiggle It Jiggleit, in a Yonkers invitational pace Oct.15; Split The House, fourth behind Always B Miki, Wiggle It Jiggleit and Shamballa in the Breeders’ Crown Oct. 28; All Bets Off, a $2 million earner who has been competitive with the top pacers all season; Keystone Velocity, runner-up behind Mach It So at Yonkers last time out; and Dealt a Winner, third behind Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki in the Canadian Derby at Mohawk in September; round out the field. “The Potomac Pace is awesome for our racing program. It puts us back on the map,” Rosecroft Racing Secretary Peter Hanley said.”The more people see our program, the more they will see that our races have good full fields and competitive payoffs. This race will help to grow our program.” David Joseph 

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