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.”