06/28/2012 8:10AM

Pocono: We Will See has tough task in Ben Franklin Pace


It’s not every day harness racing fans are treated to a race with the depth of the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for aged performers Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

The race brings together one of the finest collections of aged pacers seen in decades. The post draw for the nine horses played out perfectly for handicappers and casual race fans alike. Theoretically elimination winner Betterthancheddar should be the favorite, but realistically the four-year-old will need to prove that he can rough it and live to tell about it this week.

That’s because the Franklin has three of the fastest and toughest pacers on the planet. Foiled Again, We Will See and Bettor Sweet have been doing this thing for years and rarely, if ever have they underperformed when the money was on the line.

Betterthancheddar drew inside his main rivals with post two while We Will See landed post five. Foiled Again and Bettor Sweet drew posts eight and nine respectively. The rough draws are likely to play heavily into race strategy making this race near impossible to plan out for drivers and bettors alike.

But make no mistake, the other eight rivals are going to have to put in the race of their lives if they expect to beat We Will See.

Trainer Sam DePinto couldn’t be happier with his five-year-old following last week’s second place finish.

“He needs around five starts to get in shape. I have to tell you he came out of the race in better shape than he went in,” said DePinto.

The son of Western Hanover had an impressive four-year-old campaign in 2011 winning 11 times in 23 trips to post for annual earnings of $1,242,745. This year he has only won once in five trips but his most recent efforts showed the old guts and glory. We Will See attacked pacesetter Foiled Again through a 53-and-change final half and wore down the rich rival only to be outkicked late by Betterthancheddar.

Ron Pierce will once again be in the bike behind We Will See and he’s proven to be one heck of a navigator in well-matched races like this.

Foiled Again and Bettor Sweet’s fate will most likely depend on what happens early in the Franklin. Both can leave the gate well, but that may not be enough this week with We Will See and Franklin elimination winner Aracache Hanover starting inside. Tim Tetrick will guide Aracache Hanover from post four and judging from last week’s mile the son of Dragon Again is in a sweet spot with the money riding.

Last year when the Franklin was contested at Harrah’s Philadelphia We Will See finished second in his elimination race and then won the final. Ironically it was Aracache Hanover that upset him in the elims but couldn’t match his 1:48 4/5 performance in the final.

While DePinto has a solid chance of capturing the Franklin, he’s not as sure about his spot in the $300,000 Max Hempt Memorial.

“It’s going to be tough to beat HurrikaneKingcole,” DePinto said frankly. DePinto was more than happy with the performance of his number one three-year-old I Fought Dalaw. “I thought he went a very good race. We had a problem with his throat that was caused when he got jammed up in the NJSS final at the Meadowlands (June 2). I didn’t even scope him after that race I was more concerned that nothing happened to his legs or shoulders in the race.”

DePinto did scope I Fought Dalaw after a disappointing performance in the North America Cup trials at Mohawk. “That’s when we discovered the irritation in his throat,” said DePinto.

All systems were go in the Hempt eliminations last Saturday with the Western Ideal colt returning to his winning form pacing a 1:49 3/5 career best mile. “He was well within himself,” said DePinto. “I think he can pace in 1:48.”

Like his stablemate, I Fought Dalaw landed post five in the nine-horse Hempt.

HurrikaneKingcole, the obvious favorite after last week’s stunning 1:48 1/5 explosion, landed post three. Trainer John McDermott’s charge paced a 52 4/5 final half while distancing himself from his rivals. The son of Cams Card Shark had shown some problems negotiating turns in the past but was smooth as silk around all three curves this past Saturday.
What HurrikaneKingcole did not face in his elimination was any resistance when he made his move into a very slow second quarter. That should change with the caliber of Saturday’s Hempt field.

Bolt The Duer, a 1:48 3/5 elimination winner, landed the rail for trainer Peter Foley and driver Mark MacDonald. The son of Ponder has plenty of stakes experience and a world of talent.

All Star Legend, a 1:48 2/5 winner two weeks ago at Harrah’s Philadelphia in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes effort, drew post four with top pilot Brian Sears slated to drive.

A Rocknroll Dance once again will have to face the music of a tough draw in a major race. Last year’s premier pacer has only won once in five tries this year and has not been very lucky in the post draw. He starts from post eight on Saturday with regular pilot Yannick Gingras in the bike. The son of Rocknroll Hanover played it safe in last week’s elimination finishing third behind Bolt The Duer racing without cover into a solid final half. He’ll need to be more assertive to win from this spot.

The “Sun Stakes” night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs commences with first post at 6:30 p.m. The 16-race card features the $500,000 Franklin (race 12), The $300,000 Hempt (race 10) and the $250,000 James Lynch (race 8).