Never in the 29-year history of the Breeders Crown has a horse older than age eight won a championship, but it could happen twice on Saturday when nine-year-olds Foiled Again and Arch Madness compete in the $5.6-million Breeders Crown night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Foiled Again, the richest pacer in harness racing history, and trotter Arch Madness both head into their respective Breeders Crown finals coming off back-to-back wins. Foiled Again is the 5-2 morning line favourite in the Open Pace, while Arch Madness is 6-1 in the Open Trot.
The only horse older than age seven to ever win a Breeders Crown title was eight-year-old Fools Goal in the Open Trot in 2003.
“They’re iron horses,” said Trond Smedshammer, who trains and drives Arch Madness. “It’s nice to have a horse in the barn that comes back year after year because you know how tough it is to get a good one. When you get one like this, and you can enjoy them for that many years, it’s certainly special.”
Arch Madness, making his record-tying sixth Breeders Crown appearance, has won 34 of 104 starts and became the ninth trotter in history to surpass $4-million in career earnings when he won the $172,200 Allerage Farms Open Trot on October 6 at the Red Mile in Lexington. He has banked $4.02-million for owners Willow Pond LLC and Marc Goldberg, who also were among the trotter’s breeders.
A week earlier, he won the Allerage elimination race with a 1:50.2 mile, a time that equalled his own world record for the fastest ever by a male trotter older than age four.
Arch Madness won the 2007 Breeders Crown for three-year-old male trotters, upsetting eventual U.S. Horse of the Year Donato Hanover. His other career wins include the Maple Leaf Trot and Oslo Grand Prix. In May, he finished second for the second consecutive year in the prestigious Elitlopp in Sweden.
“He’s really sound and we don’t race him a whole lot every year,” Smedshammer said. “It’s not like (104) starts are a whole lot for a nine-year-old. We don’t take him out and race him in overnights once the stakes season starts. Even if it’s three weeks between races, that’s the way we race him.
“We put him away and do the right thing for him and give him plenty of rest after each year. Then we train him back like a stakes horse and give him three or four months to get him back in shape. He’s been able to do it.”
And Smedshammer envisions Arch Madness continuing to do it.
“Next year is just another year,” he said. “Until he shows me that he can’t do it I’m going to treat him like the horse he is now.”
Foiled Again has earned $5.40-million in his career and can move ahead of retired trotters Moni Maker ($5.58-million) and Varenne ($5.63-million) on the all-time list of money-winning harness horses with a victory in the Breeders Crown. French trotter Ready Cash, who is still active, has earned more than $5.7-million when his earnings are converted to U.S. dollars, but has benefited from a favourable exchange rate as he actually trails Varenne by more than one million Euros.
Last year, Foiled Again earned $1.20-million and became the oldest pacer to have a million-dollar season, breaking his own record. This year, the gelding has earned $774,109 for trainer Ron Burke, who owns the horse with Weaver Bruscemi LLC and JJK Stables.
Foiled Again’s earnings this year are the most for any older pacer in North America.
“There’s now opportunity to take horses because of how good the purses are and stretch their careers out,” Burke said. “’Foiled’ has got a pretty set schedule. He gets his turnout time and he follows the schedule every year and Trond’s done the same thing with his horse. He’s done a great job racing him when he’s ready and not racing him when he’s not ready. You don’t feel like you have to push because there’s always another big race coming up for them.”
Foiled Again, who has won 73 of 193 lifetime races, is seeking his first Breeders Crown. He finished second in 2010 and 2011 and was third last season.
“Any time you’re even entertaining the idea of winning a Breeders Crown at (age) nine you can’t help but be happy,” Burke said. “It’s only one of the few things he hasn’t done, so anytime we can knock something off the list that he hasn’t done, it just makes him that much more special.”
(Hambletonian Society / Breeders Crown)