Day At The Track

Can Born Of Fire make it three straight wins

09:30 PM 14 Jun 2018 NZST
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Born Of Fire, harness racing
Born Of Fire in prior win at The Meadows
Chris Gooden photo

WASHINGTON, PA, June 14, 2018 -- When Born Of Fire seeks his third straight win in Saturday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows, it isn't clear how he'll handle the elite company he'll be facing for the first time. One thing is certain: he'll retreat from the gate and do his racing from behind. The confirmed closer goes from the rail in race 8 with Brian Zendt driving.

Saturday's card also features a compelling variety of "big-score" opportunities for players: a $12,500 total-pool Pick 4 guarantee (races 4-7); a $5,000 total-pool Pick 5 guarantee (races 9-13); a $2,404.55 carryover in the day's first Superfecta (currently race 2), and a $2,517.70 jackpot in the final-race Super High 5.

First post is 1:05 PM.

Fox Racing privately acquired Born Of Fire earlier this season for trainer Jack Smith. The 5-year-old Dragon Again-Born Storyteller gelding hasn't enjoyed any stake income or glamor, banking $103,245 the hard way. On Saturday, he'll be racing for the biggest purse of his career.

There's no question about his closing ability. In a June 2 conditioned event, he made up 10 lengths over the back half and scored in a career-fastest 1:51.3. Stepped up in class last week, he was just as spectacular, erasing a 9-length deficit and matching his life mark. But try as he might, Smith hasn't been able to get him to leave alertly.

"If you put him on the gate in front of the grandstand, he feels like he could bust out of there," Smith says. "Then, as soon as they hit the start, he takes two steps backwards. It's unbelievable. I've tried different drivers, but no one can make him go. But he sure can kick it in.

"He's a gentle giant, almost 16-1/2 hands. But he swishes his tail and doesn't want to train."

Although Smith has been away from Preferred events at The Meadows for a little while, he's no stranger to fast-class horses. He's one of a handful of active horsemen who were at The Meadows when the track opened on June 28, 1963. Smith wasn't old enough to work on the backside legally, but he fudged his age and got away with it. Nearly 55 years later, he says competing in the Preferred remains a thrill for him.

"Oh yeah, definitely, but I'm not sure this is the horse. He won't be close early, but he'll be chasing them down late."

Saturday's program offers a number of fan-centered activities, including the track's "Rockin' on the Rail" series of live Saturday concerts. Airborne, featuring Jeff Jimerson, will perform on the apron at the conclusion of the races.

In addition, fans can meet a live Standardbred on the apron, courtesy the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA). Other MSOA activities include paddock tours, starting gate rides and a "Pick the Winners" contest with cash prizes. To participate or for more information, stop by the MSOA table in the Racebook.

by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows


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