Favored Sportswriter, driven by Mark MacDonald, scripted a perfect ending Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack, taking the $1 million Metro Pace in a world record 1:49.2, eclipsing by one-fifth of a second the mark set by champion Somebeachsomewhere in the 2007 Metro.
At the finish of the world’s richest race for two-year-old colt pacers, Sportswriter had powered his way to a two length score with a hugely impressive stretch charge, blowing by Woodstock in early stretch, then holding safe a closing Rock N Roll Heaven. Rock Me Please came on for third.
Something had to give in this year’s 22nd edition of the Metro. Sportswriter, Malicious and Woodstock, last week’s elimination winners, also boasted undefeated records going into Saturday’s renewal. Now, it’s only Sportswriter whose record remains unblemished, a perfect five-for-five, for trainer Casie Coleman and Ontario owners Steve Calhoun of Chatham and West Wins Stable of Cambridge.
The Metro unfolded in blistering fashion, as first Malicious, the 5-2 second choice, took the field through an opening quarter in 26 seconds, before being challenged, then overtaken by Delmarvalous, who sprinted to the half in a sizzling 53 seconds.
But lurking first over was Woodstock and driver Tim Tetrick, who took over turning for home, only to be overwhelmed by Sportswriter, a son of Artsplace, in mid-stretch.
“It’s unbelievable,” said an ecstatic MacDonald. “I’ve been knocking on the door in million dollar races. I’ve been second and third. But tonight I thought I had a really good shot. I was really confident. Casie always does her homework and had the horse ready.”
Last week, Sportswriter tipped his hand, taking the fastest elim in 1:51, while overcoming the nine-hole.
“They’ve been telling me all year long what a good horse he was. I loved him from the get-go,” continued MacDonald. “He’s just a special horse. I was a little concerned going into the first turn. I had to back up and give the seven horse a hole. It just worked out great. Huge fractions. I got to follow a great colt in Woodstock. (Around the far turn) he felt pretty good, he felt like a winner. But I didn’t want to get too overconfident.”
Added Coleman, “I knew we had the right horse. He (Sportswriter) dide verything right. He couldn’t have had a better week. Since Day One, this horse had been absolutely amazing. It’s a dream come true. I’ve been calling him Seabiscuit since the day I bought him (for $50,000). Mark worked out a perfect trip.
“I didn’t even have this colt marked in my (Harrisburg) Yearling Sale book. Same with Art Colony. Saw him at the sale. Fell in love with him and had to have him. So far so good.
“We drew the nine hole in the elim, I told Mark it was never more important time to win a race (since the winners could then choose their posts for the Metro final). (Tonight) It was a perfect post (the three hole). There was a big speed duel up front. He got away fifth, then was second over cover. It couldn’t have went anymore perfect. It was absolutely amazing.”
As the even money choice, Sportswriter paid $4, $2.70 and $2.60, while earning $500,000 and pushing his career bankroll to $605,196. He combined with Rock N Roll Heaven ($6.50, $5) for a $27.60 (3-4) exactor. Rock Me Please, a 64-1 longshot, paid $8 to show and completed a $328.50 (3-4-5) triactor. (WEG)