World record in Battle of the Brandywine?
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If the recent past is an indication, there will be no lack of speed in Sunday's $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine for 3-year-old male pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia.
A Rocknroll Dance, the 2-1 morning line favorite, enters the race off a second-place finish to Bolt The Duer in the Adios Stakes on July 28 at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania. Bolt The Duer won in 1:47.4 -- the fastest mile ever on a five-eighths-mile track -- after A Rocknroll Dance led through fractions of :25.1, :52.4 and 1:19.2.
The 1:19.2 for three-quarters of a mile also was an unprecedented time at The Meadows.
One week later at Meadowlands Racetrack, Hurrikane Kingcole paced the fastest three-quarters of a mile in harness racing history when he led the field to a 1:18.2 clocking in the New Jersey Classic.
Hurrikane Kingcole, the 3-1 second choice in the Battle of the Brandywine, ended up defeated by a head by Panther Hanover in 1:47.2.
"We're just going to have to teach him to go another 26-second quarter on the end,” Hurrikane Kingcole's trainer John McDermott quipped.
Maybe it will happen Sunday, when the Battle of the Brandywine stakes record of 1:48.4 set by Rock N Roll Heaven in 2010 seems in jeopardy.
"He's really sharp,” McDermott said about Hurrikane Kingcole, who has won four of 11 races this year and earned $198,284 for owners Jeffrey Kuhen, John Levy Racing, Arthur Brewer II, Mitchell Cohen, Jeffrey Gordon, Jonathan Klee, and Hurrikane Racing.
"He enjoyed his week off. I brought him (to Harrah's Philadelphia on Tuesday) so he could see the paddock and go over the track a few times. He was a little high strung, but he usually does that the first few times he sees a paddock. Hopefully on Sunday he'll be nice and relaxed and ready to roll.”
If he is ready to roll, hold on. McDermott was unsurprised by his colt's burst of speed in the New Jersey Classic, having long proclaimed Hurrikane Kingcole the fastest horse he has ever seen.
"I knew that was going to happen if he got revved up behind the gate the way he did,” McDermott said. "It's not easy to stop that horse once he starts rolling.”
The only question is how to get that final 26-second quarter.
"You just keep praying,” McDermott said, laughing. "How did I get him to do the first three? That wasn't me, that was him. I knew for sure that he had that in him. It's just a case of putting it all together. He's a very special horse.”
A son of Cam's Card Shark-Blazing Yankee, Hurrikane Kingcole's biggest win this season came in the $100,000 consolation of the Meadowlands Pace, which he captured in 1:47.3.
The $600,000 Meadowlands Pace championship was won by A Rocknroll Dance.
Owned by A RockNRoll Dance Stable, headed by trainer Jim Mulinix, the colt has won 10 of 21 career races, finished second on seven occasions, and earned $1.51 million. Last year he won the $510,000 Governor's Cup at Harrah's Philadelphia.
A Rocknroll Dance's start in the $500,000 Adios was his ninth consecutive week of racing, with his final eight starts in the span timed in 1:49.3 or faster.
"He seemed to freshen up pretty good,” Mulinix said about A Rocknroll Dance's three-week layoff. "I didn't do a lot of training with him. I trained him this week, but otherwise I just jogged him plenty and got him turned out a lot. He feels pretty good.”
Mulinix was impressed with A Rocknroll Dance's effort in the Adios, which started from post six in the six-horse field.
"He didn't have a good post and he got punished pretty good when he left (for the lead),” Mulinix said. "I was proud when he came around the last turn and was still trying. (Bolt The Duer) had a clean shot in the passing lane. I wish we could have gotten a little more of a breather, but I was proud of him to be second.
"It's hard getting beat in those kinds of miles, but I think he answers the bell more consistent than about anybody. He always seems to show up and we never dodged anybody.”
Yannick Gingras drove both Hurrikane Kingcole and A Rocknroll Dance in their most recent starts, but will be going with A Rocknroll Dance--a horse he has driven regularly since last September--in the Battle of the Brandywine. Daniel Dube will drive Hurrikane Kingcole.
The Battle of the Brandywine also features Art Rooney Pace winner Pet Rock, New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Time To Roll, and 2-year-old divisional champion Sweet Lou.
"It's going to be a great race,” McDermott said. "I'm sure they're going to have (the track) in the best condition they can on Sunday. The competition is going to be top notch.”
Here is the field in post position order for the Battle of the Brandywine, with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Steelhead Hanover, Joe Pavia Jr., Pavia Jr., 12-1; 2. Time To Roll, Ron Pierce, Jimmy Takter, 8-1; 3. Hurrikane Kingcole, Daniel Dube, John McDermott, 3-1; 4. A Rocknroll Dance, Yannick Gingras, Jim Mulinix, 2-1; 5. McErlean, David Miller, Trond Smedshammer, 10-1; 6. Pet Rock, Brian Sears, Virgil Morgan Jr., 5-1; 7. Shady Breeze, Tim Tetrick, Judith Welty, 15-1; 8. Sweet Lou, Dave Palone, Ron Burke, 6-1.(Harness Racing Communications)