EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Somebeachsomewhere clinched Horse of the Year honours with a dazzling victory in the Breeders Crown on Saturday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Somebeachsomewhere led all the way in a 1:48 3/5 victory in the three-year-old Colt Pace. He paid US$2.40 to win, the lowest-priced winner of the night, in the $500,000 race.
Heading into the Breeders Crown, Deweycheatumnhowe and Somebeachsomewhere were locked in a tight battle for the sport's highest honour.
Deweycheatumnhowe faltered, finishing third in the three-year-old Colt Trot.
Somebeachsomewhere then erased any doubts with an emphatic win in the last of the eight Breeders Crowns.
"I would have to think he'd get a pretty serious look for Horse of the Year," said driver Paul MacDonell of Oshawa, Ont. "He's never raced a bad race, ever."
Somebeachsomewhere, trained and co-owned by Brian MacGrath of Bible Hill, N.S., has 20 wins in 21 starts, the lone loss coming in the Meadowlands Pace in July.
In a statement earlier Saturday evening, MacGrath confirmed the Breeders Crown will not be Somebeachsomewhere's last race as had been planned. The colt will now compete in the Matron Stakes in December.
"Yes, he will race in the Matron," said MacGrath. "I feel badly I didn't say anything before now, but he'd shown the least little bit of tiredness tonight it would have been his last race, but we decided to show him off a little bit more."
Balloting for Horse of the Year and the other divisional titles will be conducted next month by the United States Harness Writers Association.
In Focus upset Deweycheatumnhowe, beating stablemate Holiday Credit by 4 1/4 lengths to give trainer Jimmy Takter a 1-2 finish. After setting all the fractions, Deweycheatumnhowe faded to third in his final race for trainer and driver Ray Schnittker. He is slated for stud duty next season.
It was a disappointing end to a brilliant career during which Deweycheatumnhowe won 22 of 25 races. He developed a throat and mouth infection last week and the illness seemed to sap the Hambletonian winner of his usual finish.
"I had that in the back to my mind," said Dave Palone, who drove In Focus. "I was watching Ray pretty close to see how the horse would respond. When he spoke to him on the final turn, he trotted a little ways but Dewey obviously wasn't himself tonight."
Said Schnittker: "He just wasn't good. He had things his own way. He had no pop, but he's all done now."
The victory was the 11th in 17 starts this year for In Focus, who paid $33 to win. The time was 1:53 4/5.
John Campbell, the all-time leading driver in harness racing, guided Honorable Daughter to a nose victory in the two-year-old Filly Trot worth $700,000. Trained by Larry Remmen, Honorable Daughter got her ninth win in 11 starts. She paid $3.80 to win, trotting the mile in 1:55 3/5.
Campbell, the record holder in the series, earned his 44th Breeders Crown victory. Mike Lachance is next with 26.
Yursa Hanover held on for second and Southwind Wasabi finished third.
In contrast, the two-year-old Filly Pace was a battle of long shots as Fox Valley Topaz, 10-1, beat Twist N Clout, 65-1 with Campbell in the sulky, by three quarters of a length in the $700,000 race.
The dominant freshman filly pacer in Illinois this year, Fox Valley Topaz closed on the far outside for her 10th win in 15 starts. David Miller was at the lines for co-owner and trainer Ken Rucker. She paid $22.20 to win, pacing the mile in 1:52 4/5.
Kadealia pulled off the biggest upset in the 25-year history of the Breeders Crown, taking the two-year-old Filly Trot at 75-1. Tim Tetrick, driving for trainer George Teague Jr., guided Kadealia through an opening along the pylons for her third win in 24 starts this season. She paid $152 to win, trotting the mile in 1:56 1/5 in the $500,000 race.
Muscle Hill continued his divisional dominance, pulling away to a three-length win in the two-year-old Colt Trot. He is 8-for-9, and the 1:53 3/5 clocking was the fastest ever trotted by a two-year-old on a mile track.
Brian Sears was at the lines for trainer Greg Peck as Muscle Hill paid $3.80 to win.
"He's just like driving a little sports car," Sears said.
Well Said took the two-year-old Colt Pace with a strong rally for his fourth win in 12 starts. Ron Pierce got his 19th win, placing him third among Breeders Crown drivers. Steve Elliott trained the colt to the victory in the $700,000 race timed in 1:51. Well Said paid $10.40 to win.
A and G'sconfusion gave Miller a second Crown win on the night, taking the three-year-old Filly Pace in 1:51. She paid $18.20 to win the race worth $610,000.