Top older pacers heading to Harrington next Monday

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Ted Black

September 13th, 2017

Harness racing fans in the Mid-Atlantic region have few opportunities to see the top horses of either gait or any age compete in person anymore with Delaware and Maryland both offering limited stakes, but next Monday evening Harrington Raceway will host the latest edition of the Grade I, $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial for aged pacers, a race that has repeatedly attracted many of the sport's top free-for-allers.

Monday's Quillen field from the rail out reads Mach It So (David Miller), Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton), Wakizashi Hanover (Victor Kirby), Mel Mara (Corey Callahan), Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett), Mr Wiggle Pants (Aaron Merriman), All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) and Rock N Roll World (John DeLong).

Mach It So will make his third start in the Quillen, having won the 2015 edition narrowly over Foiled Again and then finishing second last fall to Wiggle It Jiggleit. The Jeff Bamond, Jr. trainee has already won the $425,000 William R. Haughton Memorial for a second time - not in succession - and drew the coveted rail following a prep race last Saturday night at Yonkers when he simply toured the track from his assigned eight hole before showing some signs of life in the lane.

Bit Of A Legend N overcame post six and an early 26.4 opener to capture the Open Hcp at Yonkers last Saturday as the 4-5 favorite for trainer Peter Tritton and the late Harry von Knoblauch. Bit Of A Legend N is no stranger to winning open stakes such as the Quillen, having already scored in the $150,000 Molson Pace wt Western Fair and the $260,000 Gerrity Memorial at Saratoga. He will likely be away from the gate in rapid order and can either dictate the tempo or sit a pocket trip behind a rival of his choosing.

Last Saturday evening, Somewhere In L A showed good early speed before being rebuffed by the 'Legend' and finished third following a pocket trip for Bartlett and Banca. Somewhere In L A was roughed up in his Gerrity setback and that helped set the table for Bit Of A Legend N that night, so the Banca trainee will be seeking to get a breather at some point or perhaps sit another pocket trip behind the 'Legend' in the Quillen. Either way, he figures to improve off of last week's effort.

Also looking to rebound from an even duller outing last week in the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs is Mel Mara, who simply dropped anchor before three-quarters of that event eventually won by McWicked. Mel Mara won the Open Hcp at Harrington two starts back and has always fared well over the local strip, although last year he was burdened with post eight in the Quillen on the night Wiggle It Jiggleit went wire-to-wire from the rail. An obvious danger if the Ewart was a fluke.

Another prime older pacer headed to the Quillen is All Bets Off, who may have peaked a year ago but is still among the stronger portion of the Burke Brigade. All Bets Off skipped the Ewart last week after finishing fourth in the $500,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and his fondness for small tracks is evident over the years through his performances in the George Morton Levy Memorial Series at Yonkers and his 1:48.2 score last November in the inaugural $100,000 Potomac Pace for older pacers, equaling the all-age track record on a night when temperatures dropped into the teens.

The Quillen is the featured 10th race on the Monday card at Harrington that gets under way at 5 p.m. and spans 14 races. The program also includes a $15,000 Open Handicap and the opening round of the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund eliminations for two-year-old pacers of both genders.