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Free-legged pacer breaks track record set in 1939
Friday, July 07, 2017 - by Gretchen Springer, IaHHA Executive Secretary

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Donnellson, IA --- Free-legged pacer Rockme Amadeus stunned the crowd with his record breaking performance on the third-mile oval at the Lee County Fair on Wednesday (July 5).
Rockme Amadeus is owned by Wilda McDanel of Denison, Iowa, and trained by Mark King of Moulton, Iowa. King was in the driver's seat for the Free For All Pace that went off just before 9 p.m. as the last race of the twilight harness racing program.

Gretchen Springer photo
The Harrison Huskies 4H Club was one of many race blanket sponsors that watched the races and made it to the winners circle for a photo at the Lee County Fair (with Sun Beau Toughie and Robbie Anderson).

Rob Anderson and Kiowa Creek Rocket took the early lead holding off an eager Rockme Amadeus until King cleared to the front just before the quarter, clocking in at :29 seconds. The 10-year-old Pacific Missile gelding never looked back. The crowd cheered as he passed the grandstand the first two laps and got even louder as he rounded the track his third and final time for the finish.

“I could hear them coming to the finish,” said King. “The crowd was great.”

Rockme Amadeus crossed the wire in 2:03.2. The previous track record was 2:05, set by Jimmy Mokin in 1939.

This feat was even more impressive because Rockme Amadeus is racing as a free-legged pacer. King made that decision earlier this year.

“I drove him two years ago and the hopples were flopping everywhere, so when Wilda asked me to train him this spring I just took them off,” explained King. “The horse's stride is probably 8-12 inches longer than it was with hopples, even though they were loose. He's just a lot freer going – and he's happy.”

Rockme Amadeus is a seasoned veteran with 176 lifetime starts. He's had six starts with 3 firsts and 2 seconds in 2017.

“He's as solid as can be,” said King.

It was an exciting night for horses, horsemen and fans alike. A Standardbred hadn't set foot on the track in Donnellson since the 1960's.

“Thirty-seven years ago tonight was the last time we raced here,” said Roger Roland who still has a race program from that day. He remembers bringing horses and racing with his family.

An audience of greater than 500 filled the seats for the return of harness racing to the venue. The Lee County Fair worked hard to get the track in good shape, and the horsemen could feeling the excitement coming from the grandstand.

“I liked the crowd the most,” said Elliot Scheck. “You could hear the people – they were yelling. It was exciting coming to the finish.”

Undeterred by a short rain shower during the program, the crowd enjoyed a seven race card with mule and pony races between each field. Local sponsors handed out race coolers after each race.

“It was a nice atmosphere, we had good races, and there were lot of people here,” agreed John Saner. “It was an enjoyable evening.”

Iowa harness racing action resumes at What Cheer for the Keokuk County Fair on Friday (July 7), Saturday (July 8), and Sunday (July 9) with 12:30 p.m. posttimes each day.

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