Pennsylvania-based stallion Somebeachsomewhere will have a heavy sire influence throughout Saturday night's Breeders Crown card at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, but there's one especially interesting connection in the $500,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Pace event.
The same connections that raced "The Beach,” the 2008 Breeders Crown champion and Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada, will start freshman pacer Melmerby Beach, one of three in the field of nine represented by the standout sire.
Melmerby Beach is trained by Brent MacGrath, who conditioned Somebeachsomewhere, and owned by The Schooner II Stable of Bible Hills, Nova Scotia. The ownership, which includes MacGrath and his wife Rhonda, Stu Rath, Garry Pye, Jamie Bagnell and Lee Blaikie, all shared in the unbelievable success of the phenomenal Mach Three horse.
The influence of The Beach is not really surprising. As great as a racehorse as he was, Somebeachsomewhere is proving to be a prolific sire. This is only his second full crop, but to date he's already sired the 2012 Pacer Of The Year Captaintreacherous, a top contender for 2013 Horse Of The Honors and a starter in the 3-Year-Old Colt Pace. From The Beach's first crop, Somwherovarainbow won last year's Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old filly pacers.
"It's unbelievable,” MacGrath said of the Beach's success as a sire. "We really thought he would be a good sire – a great sire. I think he proved that last year when he set a record last year for the highest-single earnings of any sire any time. But he's surpassed everything you could have imagined.”
The Schooner Stable retained a 75 percent interest in the colt, so effectively he has become the gift that keeps on giving.
"That's exactly what it is,” MacGrath said with a laugh.
Captaintreacherous, who will stand alongside his sire at Hanover Shoe Farms when he retires, has impressed MacGrath.
"He's a gorgeous horse, he's a great horse,” MacGrath said. "They are different-gaited horses. They both have the great desire to win and I think (Captaintreacherous Racing) has done a great job of managing him and he's delivered.”
Melmerby Beach is named after a beach in Halifax, Nova Scotia about half an hour away from where MacGrath and his group reside. To explain it another way, Melmerby Beach is in Somebeachsomewhere territory because The Beach helped this region of the worldwide standardbred horse racing map.
Melmerby Beach, who trained in Nova Scotia and qualified at Truro Raceway and was then shipped to Ontario for another qualifier, has been a pleasant surprise for his trainer and owners. He debuted at Mohawk, winning by a whopping 7½ lengths in a brisk 1:52.4. He finished second by a length in his elimination race won by Doo Wop Hanover.
"He's done everything that you could ask him to do. He's just been a really nice colt,” MacGrath said. "We're excited about him. He's had a few little issues along the way – his father never had any – and I think we're in good shape for Saturday night. It would be huge to win it. It's unbelievable to be in it, for God's sake. We've done it with one horse. To be in the Breeders Crown as a 2 year old and the horse has only had four lifetime starts, it's unbelievable.
"To be in the Breeders Crown with one horse, you don't expect that; that would be a little bit crazy. But as he trained down, I was certainly high on him. I thought he was a high-level horse and he is. He put some steps in (the elimination race) in the last turn or we thought he would have won. He touched his knee a couple of times. I think we're just getting him figured out.”
Somestarsomewhere, a $110,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase trained by Ron Burke who is also part of the ownership group of the horse, set a world record winning one of the three elimination races for the juvenile colt pace race.
Somestarsomewhere stopped the teletimer in 1:49.4, one-fifth of a second faster than the previous mark recorded earlier this year by He's Watching. Somestarsomewhere will leave from the rail. So Surreal, who finished third in that division, rounds out the "Beach Boy” troika. Another of the starters, Some Major Beach, who has the seven hole, is out of the same mare, Wheres The Beach that produced Somebeachsomewhere.
While indicating Somestarsomewhere has improved in his last few races, MacGrath also likes So Surreal, who finished third by 1½ lengths in that division.
"I think those two are the horses to beat. If we can't win it, I sure hope The Beach does,” MacGrath said with another laugh.
Four of the nine starters have Canadian connections, including Three Of Clubs, whose ownership group includes the legendary Keith Waples, a dual Hall of Fame member in both the U.S in Canada, and one of the most respected and knowledgeable horsemen in the history of the sport. (Breeders Crown)