This Saturday’s $136,500 American National for aged pacers will see Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred of all time, butt heads with this year’s Breeders Crown victor, Always B Miki.
The names of only four other horses were dropped into the box to vie against the two standouts.
The seemingly-indefatigable Foiled Again – now just two months away from celebrating his 12th birthday and also a Breeders Crown winner – will start from Post 5 with regular driver Yannick Gingras in the sulky for trainer Ron Burke. The son of Dragon Again that is out of the Artsplace mare In A Safe Place has racked up $7,281,913 in one of the most stellar careers ever in the sport of harness racing.
Despite having been named after cartoon villain Snidely Whiplash’s favourite saying, ‘Curses, foiled again!,’ by his breeder, Barbara Matthews, Foiled Again has bested every hurdle set before him. Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables (Joseph Koury, Joseph Koury, Jr. and Kevin Koury), Foiled Again earned the majority of his money after his six-year-old season.
Co-owner Bruscemi, of Cannonsburg, PA, once remarked that “to find another horse like Foiled Again would be like saying you want to find the next Michael Jordan. It’s unreasonable.”
If Foiled Again could speak, he’d likely say ‘True That!’ as he has a plethora of accomplishments to his credit that few pacers ever attain. For instance, he’s the only harness horse to compete strictly in North America and earn more than $1 million for three consecutive seasons (2011, 2012, 2013). He was named the 2011 Dan Patch Pacer of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writer’s Association – the only pacer older than four ever to earn that honour – and his Breeders Crown win, having captured the pinnacle event for aged horses as a nine-year-old in 2013, was the oldest ever in Breeders Crown history for a pacer.
Foiled Again also holds the record for the most miles paced in 1:55 or faster. As a nine-year-old, he rocketed to a winning mile in 1:48 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, setting a world record for the fastest mile ever paced by an older horse on a five-eighths mile oval. He’s a three-time winner of Northfield Park’s Battle of Lake Erie and one of only a handful of Standardbreds to have a Breyer model created and sold in his honour.
“He’s a horse that never ceases to amaze you and he’s not one to ever be underestimated,” said Gingras. “He always shows up and never gives you less than 200 per cent.”
Besides these accomplishments, the bay gelding has also won the Ben Franklin Pace, the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Levy Memorial, the Quillen Memorial, the Molson Pace, the TVG Championship Series and most recently took the $65,000 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby in a wire-to-wire 1:50.4 triumph with Gingras at the lines on October 30 at that Indiana venue.
Foiled Again’s younger rival, the four-year-old Always B Miki, is unbeaten this year in just three starts, but all have been impressive victories for the team of trainer Jimmy Takter, driver David Miller and owners Bluewood Stable, Roll the Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.
Lifetime, the son of Always A Virgin-Art Stopper-Artsplace has won 17 of 34 races and earned $1,154,366. His last victory was a near gate-to-wire effort in the $400,000 Breeders Crown Pace that saw him stop the timer in 1:49.3.
“This horse has a heck of a back story,” said Takter. “He was supplemented to the Breeders Crown last year at two and won his elimination, then had to be scratched from the final.”
Always B Miki has more than made up for that unfortunate twist of fate as a sophomore, when he had to be scratched from harness racing’s biggest event. It was discovered at the time that he had fractured a pastern bone, which resulted in him having surgery and substantial time away from the racetrack.
Partnered with Takter over the winter, Always B Miki began prepping for his four-year-old campaign when he fractured the opposite pastern bone, which necessitated more time off to recover. He did not return to the races until October 3, when he notched a 1:49 mile at Hoosier Park in which he drew off by five and a quarter lengths in an Indiana Sires Stakes event. After that, he headed to Woodbine Racetrack where he swept both his Breeders Crown elimination and final with impressive efforts.
Also in the American National line-up are Foiled Again’s stablemate, Bettors Edge – a winner of $1,580,300 lifetime – and Ultimate Beachboy, a winner of $425,593 from 18 career victories. Joe Seekman harnesses $723,502-winner Lets Drink On It, while Chris Oaks will send out million-dollar earner Luck Be Withyou from the rail.