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'Cheddar' Ready For His Return

Published: May 29, 2013 8:08 pm ET

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One of harness racing’s brightest stars, O'Brien Award winner Betterthancheddar, will make his highly-anticipated seasonal debut this Friday night at The Raceway at the Western Fair District in London, Ontario in the $150,000 Molson Pace Invitational.

The plan was to have a non-stakes race under his belt prior to the Molson, but instead the strapping five-year-old will come into the race fresh off a dominant nine-length qualifying win on May 15 at Mohawk Racetrack in 1:52.2.

Despite the lack of a prep race, co-owner Steve Calhoun is confident that the pacer will be ready to go on Friday night.

“He’ll be ready,” said the resident of nearby Chatham, Ontario. “Casie (trainer Casie Coleman) always does a tremendous job of getting her horses ready and I expect nothing less with ‘Cheddar.’ We would love to have gotten a race into him before this, but that’s the way it worked out.”

Betterthancheddar established himself as one of the very best older pacers in the game last season at age four. He won nine of 11 starts while banking over $800,000 and posted major victories in the $500,000 Ben Franklin at Pocono Downs (where he equalled the 1:48 world record), the $176,500 Des Smith at Rideau Carleton Raceway, and the $216,500 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway. He was put on the shelf following that scintillating 1:49.2 victory after it was discovered he had a minor, soft tissue injury.

Calhoun said that the pacer relished the time off and expects he could be even better this year.

“He has matured into a very impressive individual,” he explains. “He has gained probably 200 to 250 pounds and is more muscular than he was last season. Casie knew he was special from day one and he should just be a bit tougher and stronger this year, which will help him in what looks like a very deep division.”

The Molson Pace is an example of that depth, featuring the two-time defending champion and richest pacer of all-time, Foiled Again ($4.835 million), along with a supporting cast that includes exciting four-year-old prospects State Treasurer and A Rocknroll Dance. Combined, the eight entrants in the Molson Pace have banked more than $11 million lifetime.

Calhoun expects to have several family members and friends from the area on hand to cheer on Betterthancheddar this Friday night and is excited to be competing on his home turf.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and Casie and I have been fortunate enough to compete in this race before with some success,” he admits. “It would be a big thrill to win it and I’m just looking forward to the challenge of competing against such a great field.”

George Brennan will drive Betterthancheddar, who drew post eight in the featured 12th race. First race post time for the Friday card at The Raceway is 7:05 p.m.

To view Friday's harness racing entries, click on the following link: Friday Entries - Western Fair Raceway.

(With files from WFD)


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