Watch Out for Unimpeachable; Tales of a Pacer Owner

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TwinSpires Staff

June 23rd, 2016

By Dick Powell

Last year in this space I confessed to losing my mind when I bought 50% of a Standardbred pacing filly. I have been in the racing game for a long time and this was my first venture into any sort of ownership of any horse, let alone a pacer. 

The reason I did so was the respect I have for trainer Heidi Garofalo, a dear friend as well as a tremendous horsewoman. The 3YO filly’s name is UNIMPEACHABLE (Artiscape) and she won three races in a row towards the end of last year. Earlier this year, I bought 50% of Unimpeachable’s full sister, ANGEL ON THE EDGE (Artiscape) so now I am all in.  

Unimpeachable, or “Peaches” as she is known, did not return to racing this year until the end of May, making her first start at Monticello in a New York Sire Stakes. The lucrative New York Sire Stakes has basically three levels of competition. The top level are the actual Sire Stakes themselves which are run for good money – usually about $60K each division.

Below the Sire Stakes level is what is called Excelsior where the A division races for $15K each race. There is also a B division for much less money.

Years ago, Sire Stakes racing might have four split divisions so the talent would get spread out. Even with the purse money being enormously high, the amount of competitors has dropped and many weeks there are only two divisions. New York stands some of the best sires in the nation so those groups are pretty salty. 

The Excelsior level is where we started Peaches out and she was a very good fourth in her seasonal debut at Monticello. Considering her competition had been out as many as 12 starts, we were spotting them a big edge in recent experience but Heidi took as much time as Peaches needed and we know it’s a long season.

At Monticello, the winner, ROLLING GOING GONE (Roll With Joe), took the lead after the first quarter mile then backed the pace down to a crawl. When the racing got serious, there was no catching her as Rolling Going Gone cruised home to a dominant victory.

She was so impressive that we hoped she would move up to the actual Sire Stakes but it turns out that she is not eligible. There is a systematic payment plan to stay eligible and just our luck, Rolling Going Gone cannot move up in class but will be in against Excelsior A all year.

What is interesting as a handicapping exercise is what we have faced in our subsequent races. If you were handicapping not only our races but other divisions, you would swear we caught the easiest group each time since our final times have been so slow. Yet, in our mind, we have consistently drawn the toughest group and would do so much better if we could get away from Rolling Going Gone. 

Besides Rolling Going Gone being a terrific filly, she backs the pace down each week once she takes the lead. Nobody challenges her and she gets things her own way. At Monticello, the middle half-mile was paced in 1:00 flat and they came home in 28 seconds flat.

In the next start at Saratoga, the middle half was 59 and 2/5. And then at Tioga Downs, the middle half-mile was 1:00 flat again. Wednesday night at Buffalo Raceway, there was only one division of Excelsior A and it drew six sophomore pacing fillies. Because of the distance needed to travel to western New York, many stayed home but not Rolling Going Gone.

Peaches drew the far outside and with a scratch, we were fifth of five. As is the custom, Rolling Going Gone went up after the lead and took command after a quarter mile which was run in 28 2/5 seconds. We were fifth hoping somebody would pull out and put pressure on the 1-to-9 leader but they competed the first lap in 1:00 2/5 so the second quarter was a dawdling 32 seconds flat!

Our driver, Matt Kakaley, pulled Peaches down the backside the second time and her brush was amazing. She passed horses willingly and went up and engaged Rolling Going Gone with a quarter mile to run. Unfortunately, when you let a 1-to-9 shot get away with a 32 second quarter followed by a 30 2/5 third quarter, the leader is not going to come back to you and we were a very game second. Kakaley told us after the race that if they hit the half-mile in 59 seconds, Peaches would have won.

The final time of 1:59 flat was way slower than both Divisions of Excelsior B. When there were multiple divisions of Excelsior A, our division was always the slowest.

Yet, pace analysis shows that our division has always been the toughest since we are in against an odds-on favorite each time that does enough to win and puts everyone else at a disadvantage. Pace makes the race and nobody has been making the pace in our races.

Drawing the outside at Buffalo negatively affected Peaches, who was not able to prompt the pace. If we could get a decent draw, I think we can beat Rolling Going Gone since Peaches has only had four starts this year and continues to get better. Next stop will be historic Goshen on July 1 so we are hoping to either avoid Rolling Going Gone or draw better to challenge her early. Either way, watch out for Unimpeachable.