Betting Line, Frank, Darlin star at Pocono
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Betting Line paced the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track, romping to a four length win over Racing Hill in 1:47.2 in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Control The Moment finished third and Boston Red Rocks was fourth.
In the Battle of the Brandywine, Racing Hill led to the opening quarter in :26.1, with Control The Moment second and Betting Line third. Driver David Miller fired Betting Line to the front prior to the halfway point, reached in :53.4, and led comfortably to three-quarters in 1:20.1.
Betting Line, the 1-2 favorite, was never threatened in the stretch and coasted to the wire.
"I wasn't real happy at first with getting away third with Racing Hill up front," Coleman said. "I wasn't sure what Brett (Miller with Racing Hill) would do because that horse loves the front and wasn't sure he might take us more than he did when we came. But :53.4 is pretty good to the half. Betting Line is better off a helmet, but it worked out.
"It's cold, it's windy; I was not expecting a mile like that tonight, that's for sure. I knew he was going to be really good, but with the way it's cooled off, I didn't think we would go a world record. He was extremely impressive."
The previous world record of 1:47.3 was held by a former Coleman trainee, McWicked. The clocking also was established at Pocono, in the 2014 Hempt Memorial.
"Honestly, with all the horses I've had, and I've said this for a while, I think Betting Line is the best one I've had," Coleman said. "McWicked was a really nice horse. (World champions) Sportswriter and Betterthancheddar were better than what Wicked was. But this horse is showing he's even better than them."
Betting Line has won 15 of 22 career races and earned $1.38 million. The son of Bettor's Delight-Heather's Western is owned by Coleman's West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun, and Mac Nichol.
Southwind Frank turned the tables on rival Marion Marauder, winning Saturday's $500,000 Colonial for 3-year-old trotters by a half-length in 1:52.4. Bar Hopping finished third and Sutton was fourth.
In the Colonial, Sutton took the lead as the field left the gate, with Southwind Frank second as they reached the opening quarter in :27.1. Yannick Gingras moved Southwind Frank, the 6-5 favorite, to the front exiting the first turn and led the field to the half in :56.4.
By then, the 8-5 Marion Marauder and driver Scott Zeron already were on the move first up, but were unable to get past Southwind Frank. The time to three-quarters was 1:24.3.
"I was glad to be inside on the (first) turn and save a little ground," said Gingras, driving Southwind Frank for trainer Ron Burke. "I wanted to control the race, so I moved to the lead. I got some decent fractions and that definitely didn't hurt.
"At the half, when (Marion Marauder) came, I would have liked to had him a little further away than first over. But I kicked the plugs on my horse on the backstretch and in the last turn he felt pretty strong trot-wise. In the stretch, there were no anxious moments. It was half a length, but it was a measured half a length."
Despite the victory, Gingras thought Southwind Frank was not at his best.
"He was better (tonight); I don't know about much better," Gingras said. "I think he's a better horse than this even. I just believe in this horse so much and I don't think we've seen the best of Southwind Frank. That just goes to show you how dominant of a horse he is. He still gets the job done."
Blue Moon Stride went to the front at the start, with Darlinonthebeach and driver David Miller settling in third as the field paced around the first turn and reached the quarter in :26.1. Darlinonthebeach, the 6-5 second choice behind Pure Country, was on the move coming off the turn and reached the lead on her way to the half in :54.4.
From there, Darlinonthebeach reached three-quarters in 1:21.4 and came home a convincing winner for trainer Nancy Johansson and breeder/owner White Birch Farm.
Pure Country, a slight even-money favorite over Darlinonthebeach, was parked outside from post nine and unable to gain ground in the stretch.
"I was going to wait and see what happened off the gate," Miller said. "Really, only a couple of them left and I figured I could get the lead pretty easily so I went ahead and moved her right away. She's settled down quite a bit and lets me do what I need to do with her. She's been racing great doing that."
Darlinonthebeach won for the third consecutive time and has finished no worse than second in four races since suffering from atrial fibrillation in the Lynch Memorial on July 2 at Pocono.
"She's just been very sharp the last three starts and she's holding her form really good," Miller said. "I've always had a lot of confidence in her. She just ran into a few hiccups there, but she's stuck with it, she's getting through it, and now she's getting what she deserves."
Darlinonthebeach has won eight of 13 races this year and earned $447,881. For her career, the homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Darlin's Delight has won 10 of 23 starts and banked $663,272.--By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications