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Elim Winners Gunning For McWicked

Published: June 25, 2019 4:17 pm ET

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No horse has ever captured multiple Ben Franklin Pace trophies, and elimination winners Western Fame and Lather Up are among the group of eight older male pacers that will try to keep returning champion McWicked from becoming the first.

Western Fame is the 5-2 morning-line favourite in Saturday’s (June 29) $500,000 Ben Franklin final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono while Lather Up is the 4-1 third choice behind McWicked at 3-1.

Western Fame won the faster of last week’s two eliminations, as he defeated This Is The Plan by three-quarters of a length in 1:48.1. It was Western Fame’s first start in seven weeks, following a fifth-place finish in an invitational at Pocono. Prior to that loss, the six-year-old horse reeled off four consecutive victories on his way to claiming the Levy Memorial Pacing Series championship at Yonkers Raceway.

Western Fame and Dan Dube, pictured victorious at Yonkers Raceway.

“He’s back like he was early in the year,” said Western Fame’s driver, Dan Dube. “You never miss a week (in the six-week) Levy and it’s tough. He had a little bit of time off and he’s fresh right now. I think if we get some racing luck, the horse is good, we should be all right.”

Western Fame, who will start from Post 4 on Saturday at Pocono, has won six of nine races this season and banked a career-high $466,300. For his career, Western Fame has won 22 of 76 starts and $1.50 million. Rene Allard trains the horse for owners Go Fast Stable, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables, and Gilbert Short.

“He’s done everything right,” Dube said about Western Fame, who has hit the board in eight of his nine races this season. “I like everything about him. He’s got good gate speed and when you turn for home, he goes again. He’s just a nice horse.”

Lather Up won his Ben Franklin elimination by a neck over Springsteen in 1:50.1. The four-year-old horse has won four of six races this season and earned $95,960 for trainer Clyde Francis and breeder/owners Barbara and Gary Iles. He will start Saturday from Post 7 with regular driver Montrell Teague.

Lather Up, pictured victorious with Montrell Teague at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

“You never want to be outside that far,” Teague said. “Usually when there is that much money on the line they mix it up; that’s what I’m hoping for, anyway. But you never know how it’s going to work out.”

Lather Up was one of the sport’s top three-year-olds in 2018, with his 11 wins including the North America Cup. He is among four four-year-olds in the Franklin’s nine-horse field. A four-year-old has won the Ben Franklin four times in its 12-year history, with the most recent being Luck Be Withyou in 2015. The others came in succession: Vintage Master (2010), We Will See (2011) and Betterthancheddar (2012).

For his career, Lather Up has won 19 of 31 races and $1.06 million.

“Judging from last year, I didn’t think he would have a problem going to the open ranks and going against older horses,” Teague said. “He’s proved it so far. He’s come back and is winning races and it can’t get much better than that. He’s matured (from last year) and it seems like he’s still got the same kind of speed. He was one of the better ones last year, so I thought it would translate to the open ranks.”

The remaining four-year-olds in the Franklin are Springsteen, This Is The Plan, and Dorsoduro Hanover, who was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best three-year-old male pacer.

McWicked – who will start from Post 1 Saturday with Brian Sears at the lines for trainer Casie Coleman – finished third in the Franklin elimination won by Lather Up. The 2018 Horse of the Year has one win and two third-place finishes from three starts this season. The eight-year-old horse could become the first repeat winner of the Franklin, but would not be the oldest. That distinction is shared by Foiled Again and Keystone Velocity, who were both nine.

The field for the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace appears below.

(PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line)
1-McWicked-Brian Sears-Casie Coleman-3/1
2-Springsteen-Simon Allard-Rene Allard-5/1
3-Beckhams Z Tam-David Miller-Jamie Macomber-10/1
4-Western Fame-Dan Dube-Rene Allard-5/2
5-This Is The Plan-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-6/1
6-Miso Fast-Corey Callahan-Virgil Morgan Jr.-15/1
7-Lather Up-Montrell Teague-Clyde Francis-4/1
8-Duplicated N-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr.-20/1
9-Dorsoduro Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-12/1

Saturday’s card at Pocono will also feature the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for three-year-old female pacers, $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for three-year-old male pacers, and $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for three-year-old trotters. Racing will begin at 7 p.m. (EDT).


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