“He’ll Have To Get A Little Bit Lucky"

Possessed Fashion will try to make his pals proud when he faces eight rivals in Saturday’s $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for three-year-old trotters at Pocono Downs.

Possessed Fashion, a gelding, has been enjoying the company of others while in the stable of trainer Tom Fanning. The horse joined Fanning’s stable in the winter and has won two of seven races while finishing no worse than third on six occasions this year.

Owned by Joe Smith, Possessed Fashion was purchased for $82,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale following his two-year-old campaign for Fashion Farms and trainer Jim Campbell.

“Over the winter, I turned him out with other horses, which really helped him,” Fanning said. “That kind of settled him down a little bit, made him a little more agreeable. He goes out every day with another horse, he especially likes that, and sometimes he’ll go out overnight.

“He just likes life a little bit more when he has a friend.”

Possessed Fashion enters the Beal final off a second-place finish by a neck to Dontyouforgetit in 1:52.1 in his elimination last weekend. Possessed Fashion will start Saturday’s race from Post 5 with regular driver John Campbell at the lines.

“I thought he’d be very competitive in there,” Fanning said. “The week before we had a little road trouble, but [his performance] didn’t really surprise me. It surprised me that they went that fast, but Pocono is a fast track. I thought he could compete with the horses in his elimination.”

In his start prior to the Beal elim, which came in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Pocono Downs, Possessed Fashion got stuck looking for racing room heading to the stretch and finished fourth, beaten two lengths. The horse’s two wins this year came in condition races that included four-year-olds.

Last season, Possessed Fashion won one of 10 races and earned $108,008. His victory came in a division of the Stallion Stakes Series. He was second in a division of the International Stallion Stakes and third in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.

Possessed Fashion is a son of stallion Donato Hanover and is the first foal out of the mare Lady Marian, who is a half-sister to former New York Sire Stakes standout Some Girls. Possessed Fashion’s second dam, Emotional Rescue, finished second in the 2001 Breeders Crown for two-year-old filly trotters.

He is eligible to the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown, among other stakes.

“We thought with some maturity he could step up and compete in some nice races for us,” Fanning said. “He was good-gaited and he had some pedigree; it looked like maybe he was a little immature and if he matured a little bit I thought he would step up a little.

“He’s been putting weight on a little bit. He was kind of a thin horse, but he’s been getting better that way. He’s moving in the right direction, I’d say.”

Fanning hopes it is a winning direction, but knows the Beal will be a challenge. The field includes Smilin Eli, who will try to remain unbeaten for his career, but drew the outermost post – No. 9 – for Saturday night. Unraced as a two-year-old, Smilin Eli has won all four of his starts this year. He won his Beal elim by one length over Fico in 1:52.3 and is 4-1 on the morning line.

Jimmy Takter trainees Dontyouforgetit (3-1) and Corky (5-1) won the other two elims and drew Post 2 and Post 4, respectively. Dontyouforgetit has won three races in a row after having gone without a victory in his first two starts this season. Corky was second to Smilin Eli in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship on June 1 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Royalty For Life, who went offstride in his elim but managed to recover and finish second to Corky, is the 5-2 morning-line favourite and will start from Post 1. Royalty For Life was second in last season’s Breeders Crown.

“Smilin Eli is very tough, and the horse that won our elimination (Dontyouforgetit) is tough,” Fanning said. “He’ll have to get a little bit lucky, maybe mix it up on the front or maybe he’s up front and they go a slow half, but right now, Smilin Eli is definitely the horse to beat.”

To view the field for the Beal Memorial, click here.

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.