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McNair looks for hometown edge in Molson

May 29, 2013
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Doug McNair has enjoyed numerous memorable moments at The Raceway at Western Fair District during his driving career. On Friday, he hopes to add to the list in the $150,000 Molson Pace for older male pacers.
 
The 23-year-old McNair will drive Aracache Hanover in the Molson Pace. Aracache Hanover, a 6 year old who has earned $1.48 million in his career, will start from post No. 2 for trainer Gregg McNair, Doug's father, and owners William Switala and James Martin of New York.

Aracache Hanover is 6-1 on the morning line. Two-time defending Molson Pace winner Foiled Again, who will start from No. 1, and Betterthancheddar, who will leave from the second tier, in post No. 8,, are the favorites.

Foiled Again is the richest pacer in North American harness racing history, with $4.83 million, and was last season's Dan Patch Award winner as best older male pacer in the U.S., while Betterthancheddar, who will be making his 2013 debut, was the O'Brien Award winner as best older male pacer in Canada.

The field also includes the multiple stakeswinner A Rocknroll Dance, who will start from post No. 7.

McNair got his first career win at The Raceway at Western Fair District in 2008 and has claimed multiple driving titles at the London, Ont. half-mile oval. In 2010 at Western Fair he became the youngest driver to reach 1,000 lifetime victories.

"It would be great to win (the Molson Pace) because I got my start there,” McNair said. "To win in front of the home crowd would be good. It's a really nice field, but we can't complain about the post position. (Aracache Hanover) usually likes the front, but he can race from anywhere. It should be interesting to see how it lines up.”

Aracache Hanover has a win and two second place finishes from four starts this year. He is coming off a last place finish from Post 10 in the Dan Patch Invitational on May 25 at Hoosier Park, but McNair said he thinks Aracache Hanover flipped his palate when McNair had to take a tight hold of the horse in traffic.

In his previous start, which came in a Preferred at Woodbine Racetrack on May 11, Aracache Hanover won in 1:50.3.

For his career, Aracache Hanover has won 23 of 85 races, with top victories in the 2010 Confederation Cup and Windy City Pace. He finished second in the 2012 U.S. Pacing Championship and 2010 American-National Stakes. He was third twice in the Ben Franklin Pace, in 2012 and 2011, and third in the 2010 Hoosier Cup and 2012 William Haughton Memorial.

"I think in the last start I cut off his air when I had to grab him up, but he went a big trip at Woodbine a couple of starts ago,” McNair said. "He's tough. He's a big, strong horse; big gaited. He can race anyway you want.

"He's usually always in the big dances and I try to follow him around as much as I can. He's one of the best horses, if not the best horse, I've ever driven.”

McNair is looking forward to another chance to drive Aracache Hanover in the Molson Pace. The duo finished fifth from post seven last year.

"Western Fair reminds me of Yonkers a bit, where if you get to the front you can control the speed,” McNair said. "I guess I know (with my experience at Western Fair) where to jam on the brakes and where to let them rattle. It's more of a front-end track, with no passing lane, but you can come first-up if you're driving the right horse.”

No doubt McNair is hoping he's got the right one Friday.
 
Here is the Molson Pace field, in post position order, with listed drivers:
 
1 - Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras)
2 - Aracache Hanover (Doug McNair)
3 - State Treasurer (Randy Waples)
4 - Versado (Scott Zeron)
5 - Rock On Moe (Brad Forward)
6 - Keystone Velocity (Trevor Henry)
7 - A Rocknroll Dance (John Campbell)
8 - Betterthancheddar (George Brennan
(HRC)
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