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MacDonell Reflects On "The Beach"

Published: October 28, 2008 9:57 pm ET

Last Comment: November 2, 2008 7:02 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

If one word could sum up Paul MacDonell's experiences with Somebeachsomewhere, it probably would be "cool".

It is a word the 45-year-old driver uses often when talking about the past two years with the world champion pacer.

And why not? MacDonell and "The Beach" went undefeated last season, a perfect six-for-six, and set the World Record for two-year-olds by winning the Metro Pace in 1:49.3.

Since then, they (and trainer Brent MacGrath) have combined for several additional World Records - including a 1:46.4 mile that equaled the fastest race effort in history - and won 12 of 13 starts, not to mention over $2.1 million.

Only the head and neck of rival Art Official separate Somebeachsomewhere from a perfect career.

"The whole experience has touched me," MacDonell, who has driven The Beach in all 19 of his races, said. "To campaign him from start to finish is a dream come true for me. To be with Brent - our families are pretty close - it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It's just really cool to go through something like that. It really is.

"He was under a lot of scrutiny before the season ever started, and he's let nobody down," MacDonell added. "Even in his defeat, he certainly didn't let anyone down. He's lived up to his billing."

Somebeachsomewhere has won eight consecutive races since finishing second to Art Official in the Meadowlands Pace in July. Art Official's time of 1:47 was history's fastest ever - to that point - by a three-year-old pacer.

The Beach eclipsed the mark with his 1:46.4 victory in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at Lexington's Red Mile in September, equaling Holborn Hanover's fastest race mile.

"Let's face it; there is quite the history there at The Red Mile," MacDonell said. "To stand above the rest on that track, that's another moment I'll treasure, too."

The moments MacDonell can treasure are plentiful. In June, Somebeachsomewhere won the $1.5 million North America Cup before a large and adoring crowd at Mohawk Racetrack. The Beach, who was born in Ohio but races out of the Canadian Maritimes for MacGrath and his Schooner Stables of Nova Scotia, has attracted a loyal following, particularly north of the border.

"The North America Cup, the way the fans greeted him, and with him bowing his head and acknowledging them, that was pretty neat," MacDonell said. "It shows how much they really respect and admire the horse. It gives you butterflies when people appreciate a horse that much, especially in today's age.

"Years ago, it was a different following, a different era, when we had horse like Bret Hanover and Albatross. There was a lot less competition out there for audiences of that nature. When they come out and cheer for a racehorse, it certainly gives me a warm feeling. I'm sure anyone involved in the horse feels the same way, and if you're a fan of the sport you have to admire that."

Last Saturday, Somebeachsomewhere won the $650,000 Messenger Stakes in less-than-ideal conditions at Yonkers Raceway. The Beach overcame multiple-stakes winner Shadow Play, himself a world champion and winner of the Little Brown Jug, by a neck in the wind and rain.

"He prevailed once again," MacDonell said. "Deep down, I wasn't really that concerned because I know what the horse is capable of. Obviously, I didn't want Shadow Play getting too easy of fractions, but around the last turn I thought I had a pretty good shot at winning. That's what makes it so easy to drive a horse like that. He gives you that confidence that you need to overcome whatever."

The whole scene at Yonkers was another magical moment, at least in MacDonell's eyes.

"I really enjoyed the other night," he said. "The way it rained, the fact that I warmed him up and Brent was paddocking and his wife (Rhonda) was helping and my wife (Lynn) was in the paddock. We got soaking wet going to the winner's circle, the owners got soaking wet; we'll probably never experience something like that again and we'll probably never forget it, either. It was just a cool moment. I loved it. I really did. My wife rolls her eyes at it, but it's a moment I don't think I will ever forget."

Somebeachsomewhere has the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final on November 15 at Woodbine Racetrack and will return to the U.S. for the Breeders Crown at The Meadowlands for his final races. Following his racing career, he will stand stud at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania.

"He really did all the work in almost every start he's been in," MacDonell said. "He didn't get dragged into any races where he sat a pocket and popped out and won and a set a world record. He was the one doing the marching, doing the work. That's what is really extraordinary about him, too. He just leaves good horses in his wake. He just paces away from some very strong animals.

"It may be a while before we see another horse like this, that's for sure," he added. "Summer just went by too quickly. But it's like they say, time flies when you're having fun."

(Harness Racing Communications)

November 2, 2008 - 7:02 pmThis is the best animal ever

Paul Angrove (not verified) SAID...

This is the best animal ever to be brought into harness racing history and i know im excited to see him clean up another field on oss super finals night one last time on his home turf then the breeders to show everyone hes the real deal once again and cheers to the trainer driver and owners for job well done........go get em beach ur the mannnnnnnnnnn.........

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