07/01/2017 9:03PM

Pocono: Fear The Dragon breathes fire in Hempt final

Nikki Sherman
Fear The Dragon has won the two biggest races for 3-year-old colt pacers this year after taking the Hempt on Saturday

The public believed in Fear The Dragon as the horse to beat in the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Final at The Downs at Pocono on Saturday night and he did nothing to disappoint.

A sizzling opening quarter of 25 4/5 was posted on the board as Downbytheseaside wrestled away the lead away from Santafe’s Coach and Boogie Shuffle. That order would remain intact until Miso Fast rushed up to apply pressure past the half in 55 1/5 and all the while towing Fear The Dragon into contention.

Miso Fast began to wear down Downbytheseaside as Fear The Dragon was chomping at the bit with driver David Miller at the 1:22 2/5 three-quarter call. As anyone could have predicted, the 3-5 Fear The Dragon exploded off cover in the lane and gobbled up the leaders to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:49 3/5.  Funknwaffles rallied from third over to be a fast closing second while Donttellmeagain was also flying late from an impossible spot for third.

For Fear The Dragon it was his seventh win in eight starts this year. Having also won the North America Cup at Mohawk two weeks ago, his $711,953 earnings total ranks his atop the Standardbred leaderboard in 2017.

“In early Sire Stakes last year he beat Huntsville and everyone,” said owner Bruce Trogdon of Emerald Highlands Farm. “He was good but wasn’t staked to the Breeders Crown last year so people didn’t realize how great he was.”

Trainer Brian Brown, who also sent out Downbytheseaside, confirmed that Fear The Dragon will aim for the Adios Pace (eliminations July 22) as his next major race.

“We are 99% sure that we’ll give him two weeks rest and head to the Adios,” said Brown.

Next up on the stakes calendar for the 3-year-old pacing division is the Meadowlands Pace, with eliminations scheduled for next Saturday.