You don’t have to squint all that hard to envision the movie: A horse takes on all comers and wins every race — except one. The offspring have some success, but ultimately only a final son of the legendary pacer has a chance to claim the one prize that eluded him.
That was the walkup scenario to Saturday night’s $600,000 Meadowlands Pace, billed as “The Greatest Party In Harness Racing.”
The racing legend of the past was Somebeachsomewhere, a horse that won 20 out of 21 races in 2007 and 2008. He lost only by a neck to Art Official in the 2008 Pace and set an all-age world record of 1:46.4 as a 3-year-old at The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky
The would-be vindicator carrying his tremendous bloodlines? Beach Glass, a 1/5 Meadowlands favorite Saturday, with three previous racing wins in five starts.
How it all began
Brent MacGrath, who was Somebeachsomewhere’s trainer and part-owner, is an automobile dealer with a small stable of horses in Nova Scotia. MacGrath told Harness Link that in 2006, he made his first trip to Kentucky for a yearling sale.
“I didn’t have $40,100. I had $40,000. I said, ‘If he goes for $40,000, I own him,’” MacGrath once said — and the horse went for exactly that.
MacGrath then took a year’s sabbatical from his dealerships, and obviously it paid off.
“He’s got strength, he’s got the gait — which is flawless — and he’s got the will. Those are three things,” said driver Paul MacDonell. “A lot of horses will have one of them. He’s got them all.”
According to a 2008 review of the race, Somebeachsomewhere — a 1/10 favorite — grabbed the lead in the backstretch from 12/1 Art Official before a crowd of 16,907.
At the top of the stretch, Somebeachsomewhere continued to lead, but Art Official moved up alongside Somebeachsomewhere inside the 1/8 pole and pulled off the upset in the final strides. He won by a neck in a time of 1:47, a new world record for 3-year-old pacers over a 1-mile oval.
Beach Glass was out for redemption
MacGrath also trains Beach Glass, who easily won his elimination race with Harness Hall of Fame driver Yannick Gingras a week before Saturday’s Pace.
“I said to Yannick when he pulled up in the winner’s circle that I’ve been this far before,” MacGrath told a Meadowlands Racetrack reporter. “We need to finish this off.”
According to the report on Saturday’s race, “Beach Glass was hung out five-wide in the scramble on the first turn and had to work his way to the front up the backstretch. He no sooner cleared than I Did It Myway ranged up to apply ample pressure, but there was no denying this son of Somebeachsomewhere on this night.”
“I wasn’t concerned,” Gingras said after the race. “I wanted to be the last one to the front, and when I was, I felt really, really confident. I honestly didn’t think he could lose.”
Beach Glass finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of late-closing Mad Max Hanover to give Gingras his third victory in the Meadowlands Pace.
“It feels awfully good, no question,” MacGrath said after the race. “We had some bad luck in 2008. That’s racing, and this horse is just finding his stride, and Yannick was talking about how strong he was in the homestretch. We should have a good remainder of the season if he just keeps doing what he’s been doing.”
Somebeachsomewhere died of cancer at the early age of 13 in 2018, and Beach Glass is among the last foals produced with the horse’s frozen semen that year.
“Somebeach” is the only standardbred horse to win the O’Brien Award Horse of the Year twice — the first after winning all six of his races as a 2-year-old. The horse was a 2015 inductee into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.
A total of $551,621 was wagered on Saturday’s feature race, and all-source wagering for the card reached $4.7 million — almost $1 million more than the previous high-water mark for a 2022 card and up about $200,000 from the 2021 Pace.
Photo courtesy of Meadowlands Racetrack