by Joseph David
All Bets Off was the beneficiary of a perfect trip and a contested early pace to capture the $100,000 Potomac Pace Tuesday evening (Nov. 22) at Rosecroft Raceway in 1:48.2, equaling the track record.
All Bets Off started sharply to sit second behind Split The House and driver David Miller, who showed the way around the first turn and along the front stretch while setting blistering fractions of 25.3 and 52.1 for the first half after withstanding an early challenge by Mel Mara and driver Corey Callahan.
Split The House, the 5-2 second choice, continued to show the way along the backstretch, hitting the three-quarter pole in 1:19.3. Shamballa, the 9-5 favorite, was taken to the outside by Scott Zeron heading into the far turn, but was unable to mount a serious challenge. Kakaley eased All Bets Off off the rail for the stretch drive and steadily wore down the game pacesetter at the wire. Wakizashi Hanover, driven by Trace Tetrick, closed strongly along the inside to finish third.
“It was absolutely perfect. I got to follow David around there. That horse had to go big fractions because he left Corey out there in the front of the grandstand. A half in 52.1 was smoking,” said Kakaley, who winner was sent to post as the 4-1 fourth choice. I was kind of worried about Shamballa being second-over, but he really didn’t factor in at all of the last turn. Coming off the turn, I thought I’d get right by, but Split The House was real game though.”
The Potomac Pace was the first race at Rosecroft to offer a purse worth $100,000 or more in nearly 10 years. The historic 67-year-old facility has hosted Breeders Crown races, the Messenger Stakes and the William E. Miller Memorial. However, it hasn’t been since the $122,170 Wayne Smullin Memorial in 2007 that a race with the significance of the Potomac Pace has been held at Rosecroft.
Tuesday evening’s mile invitational offered the eight pacers in the field opportunities to step out of the imposing shadows of Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit, harness racing’s most celebrated and accomplished superstars. Always B Miki was recently retired, while Wiggle It Jiggleit is enjoying a well-deserved hiatus.
“It makes a big difference for my horse because he’s just as good as all the others. He’s not quite as good as Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki, but he’s a very, very good horse. I mean, he’s got more than $2.2 million now,” Kakaley said.
Split The House held on to second after setting All Bets Off for his track-record equaling performance, a length ahead of Wakizashi Hanover.
“I am really proud of my horse tonight. We set great fractions throughout the race and we just missed the win,” Miller said. “I couldn’t have asked for more from my horse, and look forward to our next race.
Third-place finisher Wakizashi Hanover entered harness racing’s spotlight when he pulled off an upset victory over Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $1 million North America Cup at Mohawk Raceway in June 2015. The son of Dragon Again, who is owned by Tri County Stable and Bruce Kennedy, defeated the odds-on favorite by three-quarters of a length while pacing in 1:48 for driver Tim Tetrick.
A winner of $1.1 million in 2015 and named Canada’s champion 3-year-old pacing colt or gelding, Wakizashi Hanover became hampered by a paralyzed flap in his airway the end of the 2015 season and he underwent tie-back surgery in April. Winless in four starts after returning to action in July, the Pennsylvania-bred pacer underwent a second surgery in August that has breathed new life into his racing career.
“I had to settle for the 7 Hole early, and when the passing lane opened, he really kicked in,” said Tetrick of Wakizashi Hanover. “He gave his race, and I was happy that he closed on them so well.”
The Potomac Pace may well be the last of All Bets Off’s career.
“I love this horse,” Kakaley said. “He’s had a great career. I think the plan is for him to go off to stud.”