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Lis Mara favored in Ben Franklin

July 20, 2007

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Big-time harness stakes racing returns to the Delaware Valley on Sunday when Harrah\'s Chester Casino & Racetrack presents the $300,000 Ben Franklin Pace final for older horse pacers, with Lis Mara the favorite.
The all-age track record of 1:49 was set by Lis Mara in the Ben Franklin elimination race and he will be seriously challenged Sunday when the favorite takes on seven challengers for the $150,000 first prize.


Lis Mara was bred by Tim Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers football family and named for Tim and Wellington Mara, owners of the New York Giants. The 5-year-old pacer, trained by Ervin Miller, has six wins in nine starts this season, pushing his career earnings to $1.54 million. Driver Brian Sears brought Lis Mara from seventh place with a three-wide brush in the elimination race and outfought Took Hanover in a stirring stretch duel.


The post-position draw landed Lis Mara on the rail for Sunday\'s final, making the task even tougher for these rivals: No. 2, Gold Dust Beach, a strong pacesetter driven by David Miller; No. 3, Artistic Fella, the champion 3-year-old of 2006, driven by Cat Manzi; No. 4, Boulder Creek, a $2.9-millon earner, Tim Tetrick; No. 5, Spirit of a Shark, Ross Wolfenden; No. 6, Took Hanover, John Campbell; No. 7, Timesareachanging, Andy Miller; No. 8, Jereme\'s Jet, Tony Morgan.

The Ben Franklin will be the first of five nationally significant races, with purses of $100,000 or more, coming up this summer at the scenic new track overlooking the Delaware River, just off Interstate 95.


\"The Philadelphia area has a rich history in harness racing,\" said racing secretary Rick Kane, \"and we\'re bringing back some familiar names for our new stakes events. We\'ll have the Battle of the Brandywine and the Colonial Trot later in the meeting. It\'s a way of paying homage to Brandywine Raceway and Liberty Bell Park, which introduced the sport to the fans around here.\"


The last harness stakes race in the Delaware Valley was back in the 20th century -- the 1997 Governor\'s Cup at Garden State Park.


Harrah\'s Chester Casino & Racetrack\'s schedule also includes 12 stakes, worth $100,000 each, for trotters and pacers bred in Pennsylvania.


The track is only eight days into its second season, but it already has seen that 1:49 pacing mile--fastest ever in these parts--and earned praise from the sport\'s top drivers and trainers. \"It\'s going to be great here,\" said Tim Tetrick, who is taking dead aim at Walter Case Jr.\'s record of 1,077 wins in one year. \"I\'m planning to make Chester and the Meadowlands my base.\"


Kane said the five-eighths-mile oval is superbly maintained by Mike Torcello to recover quickly from summertime rainstorms and return to \"fast\" condition within an hour.

Post time for the 13-race card is 3:30 p.m. Harrah\'s Chester Casino & Racetrack will present the Colonial Trot on Aug. 12, the Battle of the Brandywine on Aug. 19, the Betsy Ross Pace on Oct. 22 and the Marquis De Lafayette Trot on Oct. 25. All four stakes originated in the 1960s at Brandywine Raceway or Liberty Bell Park. (Harrah\'s Chester)


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