'Allywag' Returns For Potomac Vindication

Allywag Hanover
Published: November 9, 2022 03:52 pm EST

When trying to sum up the many accomplishments of Allywag Hanover last weekend – accomplishments that include $1.7 million in earnings, becoming the fastest gelding in harness racing history and being favoured in Thursday’s $125,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway – trainer Brett Pelling stopped, let out a breath and ended with, “You know, he’s a pretty honest dude.”

The five-year-old gelded son of Captaintreacherous, owned by Allywag Stable, has not only proven honest but simply one of the best older pacers in North America. He enters Thursday’s Potomac Pace – the signature event of Rosecroft’s season – on a tear.

Although he finished third to likely Horse of the Year Bulldog Hanover on Oct. 29 in the $810,000 Breeders Crown, Allywag Hanover has won five races this year – has been no worse than third in all 12 starts – and beat Bulldog Hanover on Oct. 9 in the Allerage Farms Open at The Red Mile in a record 1:46.

Overall, Allywag Hanover, driven by Todd McCarthy, enters the Potomac with 53 starts, 23 wins and 10 second-place finishes.

Pelling said the gelding comes out of his third-place finish in the Breeders Crown behind Bulldog Hanover and his main Potomac Pace rival Tattoo Artist in good condition. And he says he wasn’t particularly surprised at his third-place finish after being tested by Bulldog Hanover through a :53.1 second half.

“Allywag is kind of a funny horse,” said Pelling. “He wasn’t at his best in Canada [in the Breeders Crown]. He wasn’t the same as in Kentucky [at The Red Mile]. He’s not a big, robust horse. He prefers to be close to home. When he’s home [in New Jersey], he can swim. In Canada, he was on the track every day.”

A beaten favourite last year in the Potomac, Allywag Hanover finished second after Enavant took the lead from the gelding after the opening quarter and never looked back.

“It was a little bit unexpected,” said Pelling. “[Enavant] maybe caught Todd a little off guard with that move. [Allywag Hanover] does have a preferred trip. He doesn’t want to bust out of the gate. I think he likes to be a little sneaky.”

He could get the perfect pocket trip Thursday drawing inside Tattoo Artist and 2020 champ Leonidas A and This Is The Plan.

This Is The Plan, trained by Ron Burke, will be racing in his third Potomac Pace. The seven-year-old gelding was seventh last year, fifth in 2020 and was a late scratch in 2019.  Lous Pearlman, winner of the 2021 Little Brown Jug, was sixth in the Breeders Crown and has all three wins this season in overnight races. Workin Ona Mystery finished 10th in the Breeders Crown.

Whatever happens Thursday, Pelling is looking ahead to 2023 with Allywag Hanover.

“As long as he’s racing at the top level, I’m really looking forward to racing him next year,” said Pelling. “If you’re around him like I am, you really appreciate him. He’s compact, quite a good traveller and really likes being around the barn."   

The complete field for the Potomac Pace is listed below in post position order.

$125,000 Potomac Pace
Post - Horse - Driver - Odds
1. Workin Ona Mystery - David Miller - 6-1
2. Sonny Weaver N - Tim Tetrick - 20-1
3. Lous Pearlman - Simon Allard - 10-1
4. Allywag Hanover - Todd McCarthy - 8-5
5. Tattoo Artist - Dexter Dunn - 2-1
6. Leonidas A - Austin Siegelman - 8-1
7. This Is The Plan - Yannick Gingras - 8-1

Immediately after the Potomac Pace, nine pacers go to post in a competitive $25,000 Maryland Preferred Invitational. Bettor Than Spring is a tepid 3-1 favourite. Dexter Dunn has been named to drive the seven-year-old gelding, who has 11 wins this year. Wild Wild Western is 7-2 and has placed in 18 of 23 starts this year for trainer Norm Parker. Cant Beach That gets the rail and has won three of his last five starts at Rosecroft.


Guest Analysis From Ted Black Of Southern Maryland News

Although the race may not include the sport's all-time fastest pacer in Bulldog Hanover, the seventh edition of the $125,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway on Thursday evening will include five pacers exiting the $810,000 Breeders Crown Open Final, including runner-up Tattoo Artist and defending U.S. champion aged pacer Allywag Hanover.

Allywag Hanover (Todd McCarthy), who upset Bulldog Hanover two starts back in the Allerage at Lexington in 1:46, equalling the second-fastest mile in the sport's history, settled for third behind that one and Tattoo Artist in the Breeders Crown Final. A five-year-old Captaintreacherous gelding trained by Brett Pelling, Allywag Hanover was the 7-2 second choice in the Breeders Crown, got used hard to make the front, yielded begrudgingly to Bulldog Hanover before the half in :53.1 then was edged for the place spot by Tattoo Artist. Last year's champion aged pacer in the U.S., Allywag Hanover, installed as the tepid 8-5 favourite in this year's renewal of the Potomac, was also the beaten favourite in last year's edition before capturing the TVG Final at the Meadowlands.

Dismissed at nearly 10-1 in the Breeders Crown, Tattoo Artist (Dexter Dunn) left alertly to gain command on the first turn, yielded to Allywag Hanover who then abdicated command to Bulldog Hanover then overhauled Allywag Hanover in the lane for the place spot. A five-year-old Hes Watching stallion trained by Chris Ryder, Tattoo Artist, installed as the solid 2-1 second choice from post five, will again likely use his quickness off the gate to clear Allywag Hanover to the top before reaching the opener then will seek to outkick the pocket horse in the lane.

Both This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) and Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman) will make their third consecutive appearance in the Potomac, with Leonidas A posting a 15-1 upset in the 2020 edition when he overhauled favoured Bettors Wish in the lane in 1:48. This Is The Plan was fifth in that race and then was seventh last year, one spot behind Leonidas A when Enavant edged clear from Allywag Hanover to score in 1:48. This Is The Plan, however, owns the fastest mark (1:47.3) courtesy of his victory in the 2021 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park and he sports the highest lifetime bankroll ($2.9 million) in the field, nearly double that of Allywag Hanover ($1.7 million).

Interestingly enough, the post time favourite has yet to win any of the six prior editions of the Potomac Pace, with Filibuster Hanover (2017), Bettors Wish (2020) and Allywag Hanover last year, all settling for second. In each of the six previous editions, however, the winner has posted a sub-1:50 clocking with Keystone Velocity (1:47.3) currently owning the stakes and all-age track record. Each of the past two Potomac Pace Invitationals have been won in 1:48 flat and the average winning time for the six editions is 1:48.3.

(With files from Rosecroft Raceway)