by Dean Hoffman
Everyone knew that Till We Meet Again possessed explosive speed, the same speed that his sire Sonsam had flashed during his brief career on the track. But when the bettors sized up the 10 pacers in the 1989 Breeders Crown at Pompano Park, they didn’t see how anyone could beat the entry of In The Pocket and OK Bye from the stable of trainer Ken Seeber.
After all, driving legend John Campbell declared OK Bye as “the best 2-year-old I’ve ever sat behind” and that was high praise indeed. In The Pocket was coming off a summertime second-place finish in the Woodrow Wilson Pace. The Seeber entry simply looked too strong for the rest of the field and was sent off at odds of 3-5.
But Till We Meet Again had won the traditional Fox Stake at the Indiana State Fair and he couldn’t be discounted. Righthand Man was another colt that couldn’t be overlooked.
When the field went behind the starting gate, Till We Meet Again had a strong hold of driver Mickey McNichol but slipped while trying to get into high gear and broke stride. Righthand Man and OK Bye then dueled for the lead as Till We Meet Again fell 10-12 lengths behind the field and apparently lost all hope. You simply don’t break stride and hope to win a Breeders Crown. The competition is simply too tough.
OK Bye held the lead and eased the pace in the middle half-mile while Righthand Man sat on his back. Till We Meet Again was the Breeders Crown caboose on this night, but by the half-mile pole he had caught the tail end of the field. Still, he was a long way from the leaders. He picked up cover during the third quarter and, when that cover stalled, driver Mickey McNichol sent his pacer four wide with a quarter-mile remaining. It was clearly a desperation move.
But it worked. Till We Meet Again accelerated and cleared the pacesetting OK Bye. Then he zoomed to a substantial lead in the stretch.
That bold move took its toll in the final yards as In The Pocket shook free and went after Till We Meet Again. But it was too little, too late and Till We Meet Again hit the wire a winner after a most improbable performance.
Racing fans at Pompano were simply stunned that a horse could spot the field almost a dozen lengths and then still carve out a victory. It was Till We Meet Again’s finest hour.