What a Horse Race

When Man O War lost to Upset in 1919, it was, well an upset.

At the Meadowlands tonight it was not an upset. No horse could have been hung three high in 51.4 and been anywhere near a win photo in a World record time. No horse but Beach that is.

I wondered how fast he could go, and there is no doubt now that he can break 146.

As for the winner, well finally Art Official gets some respect. When he flashed a 52.3 back half and 120 and change back three quarters at Mohawk in the Burlington we all knew he was an amazingly fast animal. He proved it tonight, and he deserves it.

It is not often we get to watch a race like that in harness racing. I have never seen one. To have two colts at the wire in 147 is absolutely astounding. What a year for harness racing. And it is really only beginning. Thoroughbred fans stick around, you are sure to see more fireworks.

Now we will see the second guessing. We will see the blame the driver talk like we saw in the Belmont. We will see the Monday morning quarterbacks saying ridiculous things like "told you he'd lose when someone tries to beat him." It sucks, but it is inevitable. For me, I will just enjoy the fact I just saw something special. It was a great horse race and absolutely marvelous entertainment.


Anonymous said...

fabulous race, as good as it gets!

Can't fault Paul, he drove the horse like he was the best like he was supposed to. Three wide was inevitable the way the race was shaping up and a necessary move, as Yannick backed up shortly after Beach moved for lead. Smart drive by Pierce and a true warrior's battle by two awesome horses. No need to cheapen the experience with the blame game, just soak in what we have seen. Greatness.

Pull the Pocket said...

I just watched it for the third time :)

Man what a great race.

A friend of mine was over, who is one sharp bettor, and even with the park out and 119 third panel, I remember we both looked at each other and said "I bet he still wins". Man one for the ages.

One thing that strikes me: If Art Official was not primed for the night of his life, beach would have won by about 5 in 147. Megosh would that have ever upped the hype!

GregReinhart said...

I think it's even better for racing that Beach has a "rival" that at least bested him once.

I thought both horses raced their hearts out and you just have to applaud both their efforts.

I think this has to be best Meadowlands Pace in history, and probably one of the best stretch drives in the history of any kind of horse racing.

Like I said, it was an honor just to be able to watch the race and watch those two athletes give it their all.

Pull the Pocket said...

Geez, I was speaking to Vern like he was anonymous there. Shame on me.

How dare I not look at the name to know it is one of the greatest handicappers in all of harness racing :)

Pull the Pocket said...


I think we need to get together and make a top five or ten list of harness battles. Guys parking others out where the horse overcomes, etc.

I just have to learn how these fancy blogging types embed youtube video. Maybe we'll ask Vern. He knows Facebook ;)

Anonymous said...

Only a complete IDIOT pulls 3-wide into the teeth of a 51.4 half. McDonell should be ashamed. He played right into Pierce's hand. What a fool.

Valerie Grash said...

What an amazing race!! Totally worth spending a Saturday evening home in front of the computer :)

Afterwards though it was one of those "woulda, shoulda, coulda" moments for me. As an art historian, you would think I woulda been smart enough to place at least an exacta box on Art Official and Somebeachsomewhere! Nice $77.20 payout shoulda been mine! Urgh :(

I only placed one bet, for Mucho Sleazy to show, only because last year he was one of the horses my "Ya-Ya" girl friends and I bet when we went to the OTB—we loved the vulgarity of it. So it was just one of those sentimental bets. Unfortunately, he faded to fourth :(

So, what’s next? I heard Art Official’s trainer say he was getting a break. What big race would Somebeach aim for next?

Anonymous said...

What hand? You actually think Pierce planned that?
Did he also plan for Mucho Sleazy to give him a kiss while trying to back off?
I'm sorry but when your the best you don't wait on others, especially Yannick of all people.
When cover is dead, you go around it... only an idiot would suggest otherwise.

best regards,


Anonymous said...

Paul drove SBSW like he had to. This is what happens when you have someone on a suicide mission such as Bullville Powerful race last night (reminds me of Safe Arrival and Niatross in the 1980 Pace eliminations). It happens in overnight races, it happens in stake races. It is part of racing and the only way SBSW looses.

As with Niatross in the 1980 Pace eliminations, last night showed how great SBSW is. You find me a horse parked 3-wide in :51.4, in the lead at the 3/4 pole in 1:19still around at the end and you will find a champion.

Anonymous said...

It was a great race. I actually went out of my way to watch it.
The CBC and Global pieces on the horse are up at Youtube. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Couple thoughts ...

What a race. I've watched it numerous times also. While I would have liked to see SBSW win, it was everything I love about the sport wrapped up in 1.47.0.

What a drive by Pierce. Watching the replay you can see that as soon as Paul tips 3 wide, Ron steps on the pedal with Art Official to hang him out there. That was the decisive move and his only chance.

I don't believe Paul had a choice to make. He was going to be 3 wide one way or another. Maybe he went a touch early but I don't think it was a bad drive.

As soon as the race ended, a friend of mine called and exclaimed that sooner or later this was going to happen at the Big M because the drivers are actually out to race horses as opposed to the Mohawk/Woodbine boat races were Paul would have floated around the 1st turn, brushed to the front, got a soft 1/2 and 3/4 and sprinted home. Valid point perhaps. The racing is definitely different, though I'm not sure that is what happened in this instance.

Hopefully these two meet again.

Pull the Pocket said...

Hey Valerie,

SBSW is supposed to come back for a couple of races, then the possibles ae the Grand Circuit at Lexington (Art Official should be there too I imagine), or perhaps the Jug in Ohio.

I think they give Art a rest as he has been going for awhile. No doubt they will knock heads once or twice more if both stay sound.

Pull the Pocket said...

Excellent comments folks.

I do like the fact that people are calling Pierce a genius like it was a plan (as Lou alludes). That was about as much a plan as Columbus finding America :)

Brett said...

Great race. Art Official was fired up. I still think McDonough needed some patience. With patience Somebeachsomewhere is 11 for 11. Oh well. He will break 1:46 if he stays at the Big M though.

Anonymous said...


Let me make it clear that I don't think Pierce planned that drive. I just think his decision to go when Paul went 3 wide was a good move and ultimately the one that won him the race. The events that lead up to that were luck/chance etc.

Anonymous said...

An astute assessment, by Phil J., of the differences in drivers at Meadowlands and Woodbine/Mohawk. I am so glad another WO/MO driver was taught a lesson.

Personally, I stopped betting WEG harness some time ago due to the "chuminess" exhibited by the driving colony. Too bad more bettors don't do the same. Until that happens there will be no "real" competitive racing at WEG.

Anonymous said...

I have always said that someday standardbreds would develop into thoroughbreds when they establish one continuing speed. Last night proved it. That was a thoroughbred race right from the start. Pure speed for 1 mile. Greatest harness race ever. As for McDonell, I think he drove him like they planned. They had no interest in getting to lead and the rail too early and get caught in shuffle. Tip three wide when he had too. You have to remember its not car where you can take your foot off the accelerator. He was going to have to tip 100 yards later anyways. He let him keep rolling. I wont call it the perfect drive. But it was the planned drive. I said he could be racing in the two path the whole way around the racetrack. I wasn’t far off. PP

Alan Mann said...

Looking at the race again (I've watched it around five times), I think that a defining moment was when, on the final turn, Pierce tipped Art Official out ever so slightly, just poking the horse's head beside MacDonnel's helmet. After the race, Art Official's trainer said that this was the point at which he knew his horse still had something left. An observer at the track noted that it was a "little tease" by Pierce, just to let MacDonnel know he was there in case he had any idea of taking a breather. And that was the point at which Sam McKee noted that MacDonnel was shaking up the reigns, so I guess the message was received. What a race!

Anonymous said...

The drive was brutal. he parked the whole mile from the start when he could've tucked in 4th for at least an 1/8 th of a mile for a breather before making his move on the backstretch. He moved too early and gave Art Official cover, a breather and a chance to regroup. And, Louis, the cover was NOT dead when he moved. That's why he got caught out there, had to use the horse more than he wanted to at that point, and ultimately, took too much out of him and cost him the race.

Anonymous said...

Buter, Anderson or Pierce. Wonder who gets the ride on Art O next rematch?


Anonymous said...

If they switched drivers SBSW wins by 5.


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