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Aracache Hanover wins Windy City Pace

November 20, 2010

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A world-record effort, a father-son team combining for a victory in the biggest race of the night, a huge upset and a favorite doing just what he was supposed to do were all a part of Friday’s 28th edition of the Windy City Pace at Maywood Park.

 In the signature race of the night, the $200,000 Windy City Pace for three-year-old  colts, the father-son team of trainer Gregg McNair and his son and rising star driver Doug McNair teamed up to put William Switala & James Martin’s Aracache Hanover into the winner’s circle as they posted a thrilling head decision over 4-5 favorite One More Laugh in 1:51.4.

Using the inside post position to his full advantage Doug McNair, who is zeroing on becoming the youngest driver in the history of the sport to reach the 1,000 win mark, sent the Confederation Cup winner right to the front from post position one.

“Sometimes he can be a little tricky leaving but he was great tonight,” said McNair. “Once you get him settled down and through the first turn he’s perfectly gaited on a half-mile track though and that was the case here tonight.”

Leading the way through splits of 26.4 and 55.2 the son of Dragon Again-Armbro Cachet faced pressure at that half as John Campbell pulled from the pocket with Razzle Dazzle as the field was moving under the finish wire for the first time.

“It sounded like John was in some trouble with his horse and the next thing I knew he was right alongside me,” explained McNair. “When I saw that I knew I had to keep him outside of us and I knew Tim’s horse (One More Laugh) was going to right on our back the rest of the way.”

Cruising by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.2 Aracache Hanover continued to lead the way as Razzle Dazzle started to falter on the outside of horses. A locked and loaded One More Laugh was right behind the leader on the pylons while another Gregg McNair trainee, Stonebridge Tonic was powering up three wide as the field headed into the final turn.

Maintaining a 1 ½ length advantage as the field turned for the money Aracache Hanover gamely held off the passing lane bid of the highly regarded One More Laugh through an exciting stretch to win by a head. The 4-5 favorite and last week’s American National winner at Balmoral was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Stonebridge Tonic was third.

In the winner’s circle the 20-year-old reinsman showed the savvy of a longtime veteran.

"Going around the last turn I knew we had the horse on the outside beat and Tim was still right behind us so I tried to back into him as much as I could,” explained McNair. “We were really sprinting for home then and my horse had just enough left to hold him off.”

Sent off as the third choice in the wagering at 4-1 Aracache Hanover returned $10.80, $3.40 and $3.00 while moving his 2010 record up to 9-2-3 in 18 starts with earnings of $696,977.

The biggest mile of the night came in the $116,700 Abe Lincoln Stake for two-year-old pacing colts as Let It Ride Stables, Robert Cooper Stables and Angie Nessa’s Mystic Desire completed the “Windy City” sweep as he completely destroyed eight other youngsters in a 14-length romp, stopping the clock in a World Record time of 1:52.4 for a two-year-old pacing colt on a half-mile track.

After getting away fifth driver through an opening quarter in 26.4 Tim Tetrick hustled the $15,000 yearling purchase to the top just after the half-mile mark and the Shawn Nessa trainee never slowed down as he swept right by the pace setting He’s So Hot (Dale Hiteman) as he took the  field by the half in 56.1.

“He’s a fast colt but he’s such a smart colt as well,” commented Tetrick after the record setting performance. “Last week we left a little with him but tonight he didn’t care that we ducked early. Then once I put him in gear he’s got a huge brush which you really saw from him tonight.”

Blowing right by the leader the Shawn Nessa trained son of Real Desire-Cannes Festival quickly opened up a five length lead on the backstretch and the issue was never in doubt as he roared by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:23.4.

“I pulled the plugs on him when we went past Dale’s horse at the half and then I chased after him once or twice on the backside because he can get a little lazy on you if you let him,” said Tetrick. “After that he was just gone. I spoke to him once or twice after that and he just took off like a rocket.”

Racing only the clock for the final quarter mile Mystic Desire continued on his historical journey as he shaved 1/5th of a second off the previous mark which had been shared by Western Maverick (2001) and Big Bad John (2010).

An elated Nessa who despite promising a big mile from his colt after his American National win at Balmoral the previous week even seemed a bit stunned in the winner’s circle.

“I train him on a half-mile track in DuQuoin so I knew he was going to be good on this surface here at Maywood,” he said. “I’ve tried to pick my spots with him all year long and I think that’s why he finished up the year so strong. He wasn’t as heavily staked this year as he probably should have been but you can bet you’ll see him in all the big ones next year.”

The 1-9 choice of the betting public returned $2.20, $2.10 & $2.10 while finishing up his first season on the track with a record of nine wins, one second and two thirds in 13 starts with earnings of $329,235.

Trainer Ray Schnittker’s firepower was on display in the $97,900 Galt Trot for diagonally gaited three-year-old colts as Old Oaken Bucket winner Flex The Muscle lived up to his name with a two-length wire to wire victory in 1:56.3 for driver Tim Tetrick.

Zipped right to the front by North America’s leading money winner the son of Muscles Yankee cruised through splits of 28.3, 58.2 & 1:27.3 while keeping his rivals at bay.

After putting away the challenge of a first over Powerful Speed (Todd Warren) as the field moved into the final turn the good looking colt was on cruise control the rest of the way as he trotted to his eighth win in 22 starts this year. Flashback (Marcus Miller) rallied to finish second while Waldorf Hall (John Campbell) turned a pocket sitting trip into a third place check.

Sent off as the overwhelming 2-5 favorite this year’s Dexter Cup winner returned $2.80, $2.40 & $2.10 while moving his record to 8-3-0 in 21 starts with earnings of $389,056 for the partnership of Schnittker, Jerry Silva and the Arden Homestead Stable.

“Leaving so quickly like that and being on a small track are this horse’s specialties,” said Tetrick in the winner’s circle. “He got away with a pretty easy half and nobody really challenged after that. Then I just let him sprint out of the turn and the rest was history.

The biggest upset of the night came in the first stakes event of the evening Mystical Marker Farms, Mary Jane Anderson and Kenneth Duffy’s Wendy’s Dragon came flying through the stretch to score at odds of 17-1 in the $76,700 Cinderella Stake for three-year-old pacing fillies.

Driver Marcus Miller was content to sit at the back of the pack with the daughter of Dragon Again-Wendyann Hanover as Fox Valley Oracle (Dave Magee) fought off constant pressure from a first over Cole Blue (Casey Leonard) as she rolled through splits of 27.4, 56.2 & 1:27.3.

After putting that filly away Fox Valley Oracle was then forced to try and stave off a bid from 4-5 favorite Tiz To Dream (Doug McNair) who had powered up three-wide on the far turn after following the cover of Cole Blue while being outside for the entire mile.

With the difficulty of the trip finally taking its toll on those two fillies Miller unleashed Wendy’s Dragon , who had been following Tiz To Dream, on the far turn and the Ervin Miller trained miss flew right by her rivals to record a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:56.2. Fox Valley Oracle held on gamely to be the bridesmaid while Like A Realist (Tim Tetrick) rallied to finish third.

In the winner’s circle even Miller seemed surprised by the outcome of the Cinderella.

“I didn’t expect to be down here doing an interview in the winner’s circle going into this race,” laughed Miller. “She really does have the speed to go with these types of horses but it’s just a matter of getting her to want to do it. She’s big but she’s very well gaited so I wasn’t worried about the half-mile track and things worked out perfectly with all the action up front. The big money was on the line tonight and thankfully she was on her game as well and she just cruised right by them in the lane.”

Going from bottom level conditioned events just a month ago to a big stakes victory on Friday night Wendy’s Dragon now sports a record of five wins, four seconds and three thirds in 19 starts this year with earnings of $70,308.

The Lester McKeever Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled pacers was also contested on Windy City Pace night. Taking home top honors in the $30,000 event was James Gorman’s Well To Do Guru who recorded a hard fought half-length victory for driver Casey Leonard in 1:53.2.

The race was part of a three-race series in which points were awarded for finishing positions and with the victory the six-year-old Richess Hanover gelding also earned a $20,000 bonus as the leading point getter in the hotly contested series. The victory was the fifth of the season for the tough as nails gelding who now boasts $328,656 in career earnings.

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