After losing for the first time this season in last week's Max C. Hempt Memorial eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers, Fear The Dragon was right back to winning form in Saturday's (July 1) final, capturing the $500,000 event by three-quarters of a length over Funknwaffles in 1:49.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Donttellmeagain finished third and Miso Fast was fourth.
Fear The Dragon, the 1-2 favorite from post one with David Miller in the sulky, enjoyed a second-over trip up the backstretch behind Miso Fast and made a three-wide move on the final turn before taking the lead from stablemate Downbytheseaside in the stretch. Funknwaffles, at 23-1, and Donttellmeagain, at 24-1, made late charges to claim the next two spots.
Downbytheseaside raced hard from post eight in the opening quarter-mile, finally wrestling the lead from Santafe's Coach in a :25.4 panel. Downbytheseaside remained on top until the last turn, when Miso Fast put his head in front just after reaching three-quarters in 1:22.2.
"I thought that off the rail as long as he didn't get in any trouble early he would be in great shape," winning trainer Brian Brown said. "He loves to come from behind and David had his choice of where he wanted to land, and he landed in the perfect spot.
"The speed hasn't been great tonight and when my other horse (Downbytheseaside) gets parked a quarter in :25.4 that was enough to do him in. That pretty much set the whole thing up for Fear The Dragon."
Fear The Dragon has won seven of eight races this year, including the Pepsi North America Cup, and earned $711,953 for owner Bruce Trogdon's Emerald Highlands Farm. Last year, the colt won five of 11 races, hitting the board a total of 10 times, and earned $228,391.
Trogdon bought Fear The Dragon's dam, Armbro Cinnamon, in foal stallion Dragon Again, with the resulting foal being Fear The Dragon.
"It's great," Trogdon said. "Raising him up he was always special. I normally don't keep that many colts, but I had a few nice ones and he was one of my favorites all along. It's kind of been a dream come true."
"We're 99 percent sure that we're going to give him the next two weeks off and then head to the Adios," Brown said.
"I knew when we set up the schedule at the beginning of the year," Trogdon said, "that we would go to the North America Cup and then here. My wife and I got engaged at the Adios, so that was on my list. The way the schedule is set up, you have to have a break somewhere. That's the way we had done it."
In the $75,000 Hempt consolation, Heaven's Gait grabbed the lead with a first-over move just prior to the halfway point and remained on top from there, winning by a neck over Every Way Out in 1:50.4. Summer Side finished third.
David Miller drove Heaven's Gait, the 6/5 favorite, for breeder/owner John Cummins and trainer Nicholas DeVita. Heaven's Gait is a son of Rock N Roll Heaven out of the mare Booya Beach. He has won four of nine races this year and earned $80,285. For his career, the colt has won six of 14 starts and $97,235.