Wilkes-Barre, PA--Brian Sears figured he would have to make Captaintreacherous work if he was going to end the colt’s season-long unbeaten streak.
His plan was on the nose – by a nose.
|Photos by the author|
|Sunshine Beach (2) nosed out defending Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous in the Battle of the Brandywine in 1:47.4, a world record.|
Sunshine Beach and Sears handed Captaintreacherous his first setback of the year with a nose win in Saturday’s (Aug. 17) $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine for 3-year-old pacers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Sunshine Beach’s time for the mile of 1:47.4 equaled history’s fastest on a five-eighths-mile track.
The Battle of the Brandywine was part of Super Stakes Saturday at Pocono Downs, which also included Spider Blue Chip’s world-record win in the $500,000 Colonial for 3-year-old trotters and I Luv The Nitelife’s world-record victory in the $350,000 Valley Forge for 3-year-old filly pacers.
Captaintreacherous, the defending Pacer of the Year, came into the night a perfect 6-for-6 with his wins including the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Hempt Memorial. Ranked No. 1 in harness racing’s current Top 10 poll, Captaintreacherous was racing for the first time since winning the Meadowlands Pace on July 13.
“To beat Captaintreacherous, he’s probably ranked right up there with Niatross and Somebeachsomewhere,” said Mark Steacy, who trains Sunshine Beach. “To finish ahead of a horse like that is fantastic. I’m not taking anything away from that horse, but every horse goes down to defeat now and then. I’m glad we were the one to do it.”
|The connections of Sunshine Beach celebrate in the Pocono Downs winner's circle.|
Sunshine Beach got the lead in an opening half-mile of 53.3 as Captaintreacherous launched a first-over attack. The two horses dueled down the backstretch and around the final turn before Sunshine Beach began to inch away. Captaintreacherous, though, made a final surge nearing the finish line and just missed keeping his win streak alive.
“Right past the wire he got up past the horse, so he raced great, especially off five weeks off,” said Tony Alagna, who trains Captaintreacherous. “We qualified him and trained him up good, but it’s hard to replace racing. We also said that win, lose or draw we were going to give him the break because we thought it was the right thing to do by the horse.
“I couldn’t be happier to get beat a whisker in a world-record mile first-over for as long as he was. Sunshine Beach is a very nice colt. He’s one of the colts we were worried about earlier in the year when we went to Canada. It’s no disgrace to finish second to him.”
Sears never considered letting Captaintreacherous and driver Tim Tetrick take the lead on the backstretch.
“If I was going to beat him that’s the way I had to beat him; he couldn’t have it his way,” Sears said. “I thought I had a horse that could take a shot at him and possibly win and that’s the way it had to be if I was going to get it done. He’s got to be on the wrong end of it once in a while.”
Steacy felt confident as the horses battled around the final turn, but still had to endure anxious moments as Sunshine Beach and Captaintreacherous neared the wire.
“I was pretty sure we were going to be at least second when we went neck to neck,” Steacy said. “I was really confident when I noticed that Brian hadn’t pulled the earplugs around the last turn. I knew once he pulled them that my horse was going to give that much extra. But Captaintreacherous is a great horse and he just didn’t give up.”
Sunshine Beach has won five of 10 races this year and earned $466,148 for owners Hudson Standardbred Stable, Conrad Leber and Diane Bertrand. He won his Meadowlands Pace elimination before finishing third behind Captaintreacherous and Odds On Equuleus in the final. He went off stride in his elimination for the Adios, but bounced back with a third-place finish to older horses Aracache Hanover and Michael’s Power on Aug. 10.
“I thought we had a real decent shot,” Steacy said. “He made a speed break in the turn at the Adios. We really haven’t raced on a five-eighths track so I wasn’t sure how much speed he could make through the turns. I figured if he could that we had a real decent shot.”
Sunshine Beach will next race in the Simcoe Stakes on Sept. 7 at Mohawk. Captaintreacherous heads to the Cane Pace eliminations on Aug. 25 at Tioga Downs.