TORONTO, ON — On Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack, one of the greatest horses ever to grace the Ontario Sires Stakes stage will make his last start in the provincial program and his final start on Canadian soil.
Somebeachsomewhere has captured the attention of horse lovers across North America with four world records, a near flawless race record and an ownership group of Maritimers that have given fans and the media unprecedented access to their superstar. The colt will make a bid for his thirteenth win from Post 3 in the $300,000 sophomore pacing colt Super Final, and trainer Brent MacGrath is looking forward to The Beach’s last local start.
“We’re excited for tomorrow night, we’re happy to be in the Super Final,” says MacGrath. “The Super Final is a big race for me because I like the Sires Stakes program.
“I went looking for a Sires Stakes horse and ended up with a world champion,” he adds. “It’s been fun.”
Somebeachsomewhere will start in the Super Final on Saturday and then head to New Jersey for the Breeders Crown. Following the Nov. 29 Breeders Crown Final the son of Mach Three and Wheres The Beach will retire to stud at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania, bringing to an end the thrill ride MacGrath and his Schooner Stable partners have been enjoying for the past two years.
“It feels like it’s winding down, but we knew that was coming,” notes the Truro, NS resident. “I’m looking forward to the Breeders Crown, but it will happen quick there, he goes to Hanover the next day.”
Once Somebeachsomewhere begins the next stage of his career, MacGrath will return to his car dealership in Truro and pick up the threads of his day-to-day life. Managing the horse’s sophomore career has been a once in a lifetime experience for the longtime horseman, but he is looking forward to stepping out of the spotlight that has followed The Beach’s every move for the last year.
While the colt’s exploits on the racetrack have been nothing short of sensational, it has been the ability of Somebeachsomewhere’s connections to cope with the spotlight that has turned his story into one that will linger in memories and history books long after Nov. 29. MacGrath, his partners James Bagnell, Garry Pye and Stuart Rath of Truro, Pamela Dean of Londonderry, NS, and Reg Petitpas of Shediac Bridge, NB, and driver Paul MacDonell, have responded to every situation, every demand on their time, with unending grace, integrity and humour.
“That’s how I am. It wasn’t something I thought about,” says MacGrath, watching The Beach frolic in his paddock on Friday afternoon. “I probably led the way, but Paul is like that too, he is very accessible. He’ll speak to the media after a good race or a bad race. It’s the right thing to do.”
The pair’s efforts have resulted in a legion of enthusiastic Somebeachsomewhere fans on both sides of the border, and with just two events left on the colt’s carefully plotted schedule, MacGrath is hoping the beach party will last right through to December.
Trainer John Kopas has watched Somebeachsomewhere roll through Ontario five times this season, and the veteran horseman does not think Keystone Horatio can change the course of the tide from Post 7 in Saturday night’s Super Final.
“Poor old Horatio. It started last year, he had the nine-hole in the Governors Cup Final and then the 10-hole in the Super Final, and he had the 10 in the North America Cup Final. He’s never drawn well when he’s gone for big money,” says Kopas, who conditions Keystone Horatio for owner and breeder George Hempt of Camp Hill, PA. “I don’t think he’d know what to do if he drew the rail.”
While Keystone Horatio’s post is less than ideal, his stablemate Shipps Bikini landed the dreaded Post 10 in the three-year-old pacing filly Super Final, the latest in a string of outside posts in Ontario Sires Stakes action. In nine regular season Gold Series starts the No Pan Intended lass started from Post 8 or 9 on five occasions.
“I think she’d faint if she ever drew the rail,” says Kopas wryly. “She’ll just have to make the best of a bad situation; she’s overcome it a lot of nights.
“It’s amazing. She hasn’t won a race and she’s made $173,000,” adds the Milton resident. “She’s like James Brown, she’s the hardest working girl in harness racing.”
In spite of her 33 race season, which started back in January, Kopas says Shipps Bikini is as fresh and happy as she was at the start of her sophomore campaign. After she missed her second Gold Final in September, Kopas gave the filly a month long vacation and she bounced back to finish third in her elimination and second in the final in the October Gold Series at Woodbine, in spite of starting from Posts 8 and 9.
“She takes good care of herself. She is relaxed around the barn, and also on the track, and that’s a big plus,” notes Kopas, who conditions the filly for Harold G. Shipp Stable of Mississauga.
Kopas will also start three two-year-olds on the $2.4 million Super Final program — pacing fillies Rose Seelster and Take My Pulse, who will start from Posts 1 and 8 in the fifth race, and pacing colt Shipps Xpectancy, who faces off against his rivals from Post 6 in the eighth race.
Woodbine Racetrack’s Saturday evening program gets under way at 7:30 pm, with the province’s top trotters and pacers providing the high speed entertainment in Races 3 through 10.
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