Allard Seeks Big Finish with ‘Velocity,’ New Challenge in Thoroughbred Racing
Keystone Velocity Ready for Sunday’s Potomac Pace, Allard Buys at Keeneland FORT WASHINGTON, MD – For nearly two years, Keystone Velocity was out of sight in the world of harness racing. But the pacing son of Western Hanover was never out of trainer Rene Allard’s mind.
Although he had earned nearly $500,000 in his career, an ownership dispute kept Keystone Velocity off the track for nearly two years. But last October, Allard was able to purchase Keystone Velocity – then an 8-year-old – with VIP Stable, Earl Hill Jr., and Kapildeo Singh. One year later, Keystone Velocity enters Sunday’s $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft as one of the favorites with victories earlier this year in the $529,000 finals of the Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers and the $500,000 Ben Franklin at Pocono.
“He’s been great to us,” Allard said. “He was always a nice horse. He wasn’t injured, he was sound, but there was an ownership dispute. By the time that got squared away he was nearly two years without racing. But he had only raced some 80 times. I look at him now and, yes, he’s nine but with the two years off he’s like a 7-year-old.”
Keystone Velocity, from the final crop of stallion Western Hanover and a $3,000 yearling purchase for his original owners in 2009, has relished his second opportunity on track with Allard. The 9-year-old enters Sunday’s Potomac Pace with nearly $750,000 in earnings this year.
“He’s been doing really well,” Allard said. “He finished second in the elimination of the Breeders Crown. He’s always playful, always happy. We’re looking forward to [the Potomac Pace]. He finished fourth last year, but his foot was bothering him a little last year.
“There’s going to be some nice horses in there. Last year the track was lightning fast and I expect it will be the same this year. I’m looking forward to it.”
Allard is also looking forward to his renewed interest in Thoroughbred racing. Having grown up on a farm in Quebec with “every kind of animal,” and living on a farm now with “ponies, Belgian horses, retired Standardbreds and everything else,” Allard is trying his hand in the Thoroughbred world. He recently purchased a yearling for $20,000 at the Keeneland September Sale.
“I claimed a Thoroughbred at Woodbine years ago and had another run at Belmont a couple years back,” Allard said. “It’s fascinating to learn about horses. So I went to Keeneland by myself and walked around on the last day of the sale and looked at the horses there. I didn’t even buy a sales book. I just looked at the horses, saw one that I thought looked good, and bid on it.” After buying a son of Liaison, a stakes winner who earned more than $750,000, Allard turned to someone and asked what they thought of the pedigree.
“The guy said [the yearling] came from a family of runners,” Allard said. “Then we talked some more and I found out the guy was [Hall of Fame and Kentucky Derby-winning trainer] Jack Van Berg. It was pretty cool. We started talking. Turns out he knew Billy Haughton and some other people.”
Allard’s Thoroughbred is now under the care of Van Berg and he’s looking forward to seeing the colt run. But this weekend, Allard is looking forward to Keystone Velocity adding to his earnings in the Potomac Pace at Rosecroft.
First race post on Potomac Pace Night at Rosecroft is 6:40 p.m.