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Betterthancheddar shines in American-National

Sunday, November 13, 2011  By: Tom Kelley, Balmoral
thancheddar shines in American-National

Crete, IL--Balmoral Park played host to one of its biggest night’s of the year on Saturday (Nov. 12) as six American-National Stakes finals were contested over the Crete oval. With almost $900,000 in purse money up for grabs and a large crowd on hand, there were plenty of thrills and great performances despite gusting winds that exceeded 35mph at times.

Perhaps the best and biggest effort of the night was saved for last as a field of 10 three-year-old pacing colts closed out the action with a purse of $225,000 on the line.

Balmoral Park Photos
Betterthancheddar was an impressive 1:50.3 winner in his American-National final for 3-year-old colt pacers.

Fresh off a thrilling victory in the Breeders Crown, Steve Calhoun and West Wins Stable’s Betterthancheddar lived up to his 3-5 odds as he cruised to his fourth straight victory, scoring by a widening 1-¾ lengths in 1:50.3 while in hand to driver George Brennan.

Using the inside starting spot and the experience of North America’s second-leading dashwinning driver to full advantage, the Bettor’s Delight colt rocketed away from the gate before releasing a hard-leaving Hugadragon (Yannick Gingras) to the front after an opening quarter of 27.1. Using the give and go to perfection, Brennan then sent Betterthancheddar back to the front where he led the field through middle splits of 54 and 1:21.3, which were the fastest of the night by far.

“Warming up I scored him down pretty hard into the wind so I would have an idea of how he was going to react when we turned for home and it didn’t look or feel like he was having any problems with it so that’s when I decided that I wanted him to be on the front turning for the money,” said Brennan.

While not usually in the position of being the one to catch, the Casie Coleman trainee had the skill of his experienced pilot and he did not disappoint Brennan or the confidence that the betting public showed in him as he emphatically delivered the knock-out blow to put away his rivals while making his case for divisional honors among the sophomore set. Hugadragon (Yannick Gingras), a $20,000 supplement to the race, finished second while Mystic Desire, last year’s 2-year-old colt pace American National winner, settled for third in his repeat bid.

In the winner’s circle Brennan announced that he and Betterthancheddar will be back in the Chicagoland area next week as they look for a fifth straight victory and the colt’s 10th win of the year in 18 starts.

“He’s so good right now that’s he just an absolute pleasure to drive,” said Brennan. “He’s making his case for divisional honors and I hope I can continue to get him to that goal next week at Maywood in the Windy City Pace.”

Foiled Again scored in the open pace American-National in 1:51.4.

The older pacing stars of the sport were highlighted in race 9 with a field of nine pacers getting things started as they battled for a purse of $175,000. The combined career earnings of this field total a whopping $12,265,476.

Reversing the outcome of their Breeders Crown showdown from two weeks ago, Burke Racing Stable, JJK Stable and Weaver Bruscemi’s Foiled Again rolled to a 2-¾ length victory over Bettor Sweet in 1:51.4, giving Gingras his third American National title of the night.
After getting away third as local hero St Elmo Hero (Brett Miller) led the field through a rather slow 28.4 opening quarter, Gingras then pointed Foiled Again for the top and the 7-year-old son of Dragon Again proceeded to lead the field through a half-mile in 55.1.

“I really wasn’t planning on sending my horse to the front that early, but I knew I wanted to move before Bettor Sweet (John Campbell) could and keep him behind us for as long as I could,” Gingras explained. “With the way things were going and the wind the way it was, I thought that was the most important move I could make with him tonight. Having to come first-over for a long period of time was like death sentence because of the conditions.”

Comfortably in front as the field rolled by the three-quarter mile mark in 1:24, the Ron Burke trainee then sealed the deal with a 27.4 final quarter into the stiff wind, showing both the class, grit and determination that has netted him over $3.4 million in career earnings while winning for the 58th time in his storied career. Bettor Sweet was a clear-cut second while another Burke trainee Atochia (George Brennan) rallied for the show dough.

Once again the performance that Foiled Again turned in left Gingras in awe of the great pacers durability, strength and will to win.

Crime Of Passion got up to win the 2-year-old filly pace in 1:54.3.

“If he doesn’t win the Dan Patch Award as the older pacer of the year that’s just an injustice,” said Gingras. “He’s the oldest horse in history to win over $1 million in a season which he’s done this year ($1.4 million), he’s as sharp as he’s been all season long and he’s da

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