Quillen takes center stage on Monday night

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Ted Black

September 20th, 2015

While many standardbred enthusiasts are accustomed to seeing the best trotters and pacers compete on Friday or Saturday nights, most of them will want to focus their attention on Harrington Raceway tomorrow night when the Delaware half-mile oval hosts the ninth edition of the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial for aged pacers.

For nearly a decade the Quillen has attracted some of the best older pacers in training, with Foiled Again, the sport's all-time richest horse with earnings in excess of $7 million, having already won the race on three different occasions. Not surprisingly, the 11-year-old gelding is back to defend his title in the Quillen and for a second straight year the durable campaigner has drawn the rail and regular pilot Yannick Gingras will again be on hand.

Foiled Again has enjoyed an exceptional career that should someday earn him a spot in the harness racing Hall of Fame when he finally retires, but this year the Ron Burke trainee has finally showed some signs of aging. In the George Morton Levy Memorial Series at Yonkers Raceway in March and April, Foiled Again hardly resembled the same pacer that dominated the preliminary rounds the year before and his dull efforts prevented him from earning a berth in either the final or consolation.

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While Foiled Again arrives with only one win in 14 starts this year, onlookers should keep in mind that the 'old man' has faced the best older pacers on the continent at various venues and most of his setbacks have been on the bigger tracks. His lone win came in the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park and several of his most recent efforts ended poorly when he was used hard to reach the top before the half. On three different occasions he reached the midway mark in 53.1 or faster, a torturing opener for any pacer.

Drawing alongside Foiled Again for the Quillen is Canadian invader Shamballa (Rick Zeron), who reeled off five straight wins in the Preferred at Mohawk Raceway before finishing second in both the elimination and final of the Canadian Pacing Derby. Unlike Foiled Again, who has always thrived on the smaller tracks, Shamballa has gained prominence thanks to a bevy of solid efforts on the big tracks north of the border. He will be a major contender in the Quillen, especially thanks to his inside draw, although it remains to be seen how well he will handle the half-mile oval.

Alongside him in post three is Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) who captured the Preferred at Mohawk in his most recent start to become the sport's newest millionaire. This five-year-old Mach Three gelding notched the biggest victory of his career when capturing the $430,000 William R. Haughton final at the Meadowlands in July, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the George Morton Levy Memorial series at Yonkers Raceway each of the past two years while eventually being overshadowed somewhat by stablemate PH Supercam.

A trio of local pacers will look to fend off the talented invaders tomorrow night. Bandolito (Daryl Bier) won the $16,000 Open last week in wire-to-wire fashion in 1:50.4, a solid clocking although usually about a second slower than what is normally required to win the Quillen. Dancin Yankee (Ross Wolfenden) settled for fourth in the Open last week and is looking to regain the form that enabled him to win 18 of 29 starts and bank over $500,000 last year for trainer Josh Green. He was the beaten favorite in his Quillen elim a year ago, unable to thwart a trio of Burke trainees.

Starting from the far outside is Just A Jolt (Victor Kirby), who has been the local star among this group for the past two years. Just A Jolt has thrived over the half-mile oval, taking numerous Open events and back-to-back editions of the Governor's Cup. His unfortunate draw will certainly hinder his chances in the Quillen. Great Vintage (Brett Miller) and Doctor Butch (David Miller) will start from posts six and seven and also face a daunting task. Great Vintage has raced well in the last six starts for trainer Jimmy Takter and cannot be entirely overlooked.

Two races before the Quillen a solid field of eight older pacers will go postward in the $12,500 Open II where railbound Bad Boy Matt (Allan Davis) should rule as the 6-5 favorite. A winner two starts back at Yonkers, Bad Boy Matt actually recorded the fastest mile of the night on Governor's Day when he captured the President's Cup in 1:51.1 for trainer Wayne Givens. Framed Art (Art Stafford, Jr.) won at this level three starts back before chasing Bandolito and Just A Jolt last week, but drew the dreaded eight hole on Monday.

Then one race after the Quillen a good field of younger pacers will go postward in a non-winners of five races or $25,000 lifetime class. Freehold invader Rock Of The Ages (Brett Miller) will be the tepid 9-5 favorite from post six, but railbound Daiquiri Don (Stafford) has won two straight for owner-trainer F. Wyatt Starkey and looks to continue his newfound winning ways tomorrow night. I'm All Heart (Kirby) will start from post five off a sharp score in the non-winners of four class and could be a factor throughout.