Betterthancheddar Triumphant In Thrilling Cane Pace At Pocono

2011-09-10

Betterthancheddar pounced from the pocket late to pull off a mild upset in the Cane Pace on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The Cane, the first leg of harness racing’s Triple Crown for 3-year-old pacers, carried a purse of $342,875.
The Cane Pace was one of three stakes races moved from Tioga Downs to Pocono for the evening. Tioga was forced to cancel its racing on Saturday night due to conditions caused by the flood that rocked much of the Northeast US.
Much of the pre-race attention for the Cane was focused on 3-5 favorite Roll With Joe, winner of The Meadowlands Pace and The Battle of the Brandywine at Chester. But it was Betterthancheddar, a third choice at 4-1, who was sent to the front end by driver Yannick Gingras, cutting out the quarter-mile in a blistering 25:4. Shadyshark Hanover and Jim Morrill Jr. made his play for the lead in the front stretch, taking over at the 3/8-mile marler. Gingras said after the race that he didn’t hesitate to allow Shadyshark Hanover past, since trainer Casie Coleman’s instructions were to keep Better Than Cheddar covered up as much as possible.
Shadyshark Hanover did the work for the next half-mile or so, setting nasty fractions of 53:2 for the half and 1:20:4 for three-quarters. That shook off most of the outer flow, although Roll With Joe, who had an awful trip, did make a three-wide move into second before fading. Meanwhile, Betterthancheddar found his opportunity in the stretch, shooting by a tiring Shadyshark Hanover.
His work wasn’t done at that point, as long shot Townslight Hanover, with Andrew McCarthy in the bike, shot up the passing lane late. Betterthancheddar, the 3-year-old colt sired by Bettor’s Delight, had enough late in his second big move to hold on to win by a neck in a new stakes record of 1:49:2. Powerful Mist, driven by John Campbell, finished 3rd.
Betterthancheddar, who was unraced as a 2-year-old, won for the 5th time in 11 races in 2011. Owned by Steve Calhoun and West Wins Stable of Ontario, the colt saw his lifetime earnings more than triple to $249,932.
Earlier in the evening, Pocono also hosted two divisions of the Shady Daisy, an event for 3-year-old pacing fillies that was also originally scheduled at Tioga. In the first division, which carried a purse of $60,050, Krispy Apple paced away from her foes after taking the lead on the back stretch, winning in 1:50. Tim Tetrick did the driving for Mark Kesmodel, as the filly won for the 9th time in 14 tries this season. Some Girls Do finished 2nd and Miss Annie J was 3rd.
In the second Shady Daisy split, with a purse of $62,050, Drop The Ball fought hard for the early lead and held up strong late to win in 1:50. Gingras was aboard for trainer Ross Croghan, as Drop The Ball picked up her second win of the year, with the other coming in the Mistletoe Shalee at The Meadowlands. Myluvmylife finished second while New Album was 3rd.