Potomac Pace slated for Rosecroft Raceway on Sunday

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Ted Black

November 5th, 2017

One night after many serious and novice thoroughbred racing fans were debating the impact of the results of the Breeders Cup Thoroughbred World Championships at Del Mar Race Course in southern California, harness racing fans will shift their attention to Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland which hosts the second edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace for free-for-all pacers.

One week after 10 of the sport's best aged pacers clashed in the $421,000 Breeders Crown Open final, three of the top four finishers from that event and several others with ample stakes victories under the belts, will convene at Rosecroft on Sunday evening for the Potomac Pace. Defending champion All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley), fourth after a brutal, two-move effort in the Breeders Crown, will seek to repeat and erase his stakes and track record performance of 1:48.2 in the process.

Last year for the inaugural edition of the Potomac, temperatures dipped into the upper teens by post time, but far more milder temps are expected tomorrow and a much faster clocking is also anticipated. Breeders Crown hero Split The House (Brett Miller), who was second in the race a year ago, drew post position nine on the far outside and will need to call on all of his speed early to overcome the outside slot and the ample speed horses inside of him.

Split The House has rounded back into form four months after having bone chips removed in his right hind ankle and his 1:48.1 Breeders Crown victory at Hoosier Park was an ideal consolation prize after he was forced to bypass the $500,000 Ben Franklin final at Pocono Downs. He returned fresh and fit but labored through the Allerage Stakes at Lexington before showing signs of life in the Breeders Crown elim while third behind Dealt A Winner and Keystone Velocity, both of which will also be on hand for the Potomac.

In the Breeders Crown final, Split The House got away third initially behind All Bets Off and Keystone Velocity then quarter moved to command, yielded to favored Mach It So (David Miller) before the half, sat a tight pocket through the far turn as All Bets Off angled out to press first over, slipped through along the inside, surged past Mach It So then outalsted the late bid of McWicked to score in 1:48.1. Dealt A Winner, a sharp winner of his elim after winning at Lexington in 1:47.3, offered little in the lane but could rebound in the Potomac.

Mach It So settled for third in the Breeders Crown final, but he earlier scored in the $400,000 William R. Haughton Memorial for trainer Jeff Bamond, Jr., and was second in the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway. Fittingly, Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton), hero of the Quillen, arrives for the Potomac Pace for trainer Peter Tritton but drew post position eight just outside of Mach It So.

Keystone Velocity and Bit Of A Legend N, the most recent winners of the $600,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Series final at Yonkers Raceway, drew on opposite ends of the spectrum for the Potomac. Keystone Velocity got the rail - not always an advantage on a five-eighths mile oval - while Bit Of A Legend N got post eight. Boston Red Rocks, the 2015 two-year-old pacing colt champion, drew post five off a 1:50.3 qualifier for trainer Steve Elliott.

The Potomac is the eighth race on the card and follows directly on the heels of the $20,000 Maryland Invitational for local older pacers. Hickory Aloha and Rocktavius will be among the favorites for that event and it could go in 1:51 and change, so look for the Potomac to go roughly three seconds faster. All Bets Off won last year's edition in 1:48.2 on a frigid night, rare for mid-November, but with temps expected to be around 60 at post time expect this year's renewal of the Potomac to go perhaps a full second faster.