07/01/2012 10:08AM

Harness: Betterthancheddar sets world record winning Ben Franklin Pace

Betterthancheddar, show in action last November, paced the mile in 1:48 for a world record at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs.

Driver George Brennan knew what he was doing when he opted to drive the 4-year-old Betterthancheddar in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday night. Brennan  brilliantly steered  Betterthancheddar to a world-record 1:48 mile in capturing the feature on “Sun Stakes” night.

Betterthancheddar took advantage of his post 2 starting point to improve position early as second choice and defending champion We Will See with Ron Pierce secured the early lead in a blistering  26-second  quarter. Brennan’s horse  was third at that point but he wasted no time using the straightaway to make a wicked speed move. The Casie Coleman-trained Betterthencheddar blew by the pacesetter before the halfway point but paid a heavy price to do so. The leaders duked it out to the tune of a 52 4/5 opening half, the fastest half call in the history of Pocono.

It was at that point that Brennan’s other elimination winner Aracache Hanover, driven by Tim Tetrick in the final, made his assault on the lead. The two Ontario-based stallions waged a bitter duel down the backstretch and into the homestretch as the top three had gained separation from the rest of the stellar field. Though Betterthancheddar paced the slowest of the four quarters (28 seconds) he was under relentless pressure. The intensity would escalate in the stretch as Aracache Hanover continued to fight on the outside and We Will See found room along the inside to attack.

In midstretch, Betterthancheddar appeared to be tiring but he responded beautifully to Brennan’s urging and gamely held off We Will See by three-quarters of a length.  Aracache Hanover held third money.

The victory pushed Betterthancheddar’s career earnings above $1.1 million. He is   3 for 3 at Pocono, having captured the Cane Pace locally in 2011. Steve Calhoun and West Wins Stable own the budding superstar, who will head to the Des Smith at Rideau Carleton next. The winner paid $4.60 as the favorite.

A Rocknroll Dance hadn’t had much racing luck in his prior five starts as a 3-year-old. That didn’t seem likely to change after landing post 8 in the nine-horse, $300,000 Max Hempt Memorial. But driver Yannick Gingras helped A Rockinroll Dance rise to the occasion and post a dramatic 1:48 3/5 victory at odds of 17-1.

The quick and sure-footed A Rocknroll Dance left the gate hard following Allstar Legend into the two-hole as the pair sprinted to the quarter in 26 2/5. Second choice Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald) made a quick move to the front passing the stands and were comfortably in front through a rated 54 4/5 half-mile clocking.

The race took shape at that point as 3-5 favorite Hurrikane Kingcole was put into full-sprint mode to attack the leader. Unlike a week earlier, Hurrikane Kingcole met resistance in his pursuit of the lead as Bolt The Duer kept his rival parked out in a sizzling 26 2/5 quarter.

It was the speed of the third quarter that allowed Gingras and A Rocknroll Dance the opportunity to find racing room. I Fought Dalaw, who had tracked Hurrikane Kingcole at a distance on the backstretch, left enough room on the final turn for Gingras to sneak off the rail. Once he angled A Rocknroll Dance wide into the stretch the colt took off with wild abandon.

Bolt The Duer fought gamely under assault from A Rocknroll Dance to his right and Allstar Legend to his inside but lost the fight to the wire by a neck while holding the place spot in a dead heat.

“I wasn’t totally surprised. I knew my horse had the talent,” said trainer Jim Mullinax. “I’m the trainer and I had to do a better job. I’m like Lebron James, it was about time we won one.”

The top three finishers are all Meadowlands Pace eligibles and are likely to meet again with eliminations slated for Saturday at New Meadowlands.

American Jewel could be at the Meadowlands as well this Saturday following her third straight world-record performance in capturing the $250,000 James Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old fillies. The American Ideal-sired American Jewel  is eligible to the Mistletoe Shalee at the Meadowlands but it’s hard to believe enough fillies will want to tackle her to require eliminations.

Unlike her previous two victories in the Fan Hanover and Lynch trials, American Jewel had to rough it from off the pace as Shelliscape posted a 25 3/5 opening quarter storming to the front from post 9. Economy Terror with Brian Sears got away in good order and then secured the lead about three-eighths of a mile in and awaited the challenge from the 1-20 favored American Jewel.

The two fillies locked up in nose-to-nose battle through a half in 54 and three quarters in 1:21 3/5 with neither giving ground. But in the homestretch it was once again American Jewel pulling away by 1 ½ lengths  for driver Tim Tetrick. The 1:49 2/5 mile equaled the world mark she had posted in the trials.

Darena Hanover rallied nicely for the place with Economy Terror tiring but hanging on to third money.

“I could see that they were going plenty on the front and I wasn’t going to get the top without a suicide mission,” said  Tetrick on his decision to race the filly from off the pace.

American Jewel, a homebred of Brittany Farms, has now won 12 of her 14 career starts for trainer Jimmy Takter who enters the sport’s Hall of Fame  Sunday  at Goshen, N.Y.