Delaware County Fairgrounds-based trainer Brian Brown already has won one of harness racing’s top prizes for 3-year-old pacers — the North America Cup — and will try to add a second on Saturday when he sends out Downbytheseaside in the $738,550 Meadowlands Pace at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.
Fear The Dragon, who was not staked to the Meadowlands Pace, gave Brown’s stable its victory in the North America Cup, where Downbytheseaside finished third behind his stablemate and runner-up Huntsville. Downbytheseaside will see Huntsville again Saturday in the Meadowlands Pace.
Downbytheseaside, who will be driven by recent Hall of Fame inductee Brian Sears, has won five of seven races this year and earned $323,500. In addition to being third in the North America Cup, the colt was fifth in the Max C. Hempt Memorial on July 1 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Brown said Downbytheseaside was found to be sick following the Hempt. Downbytheseaside, who did not race in last week’s Meadowlands Pace elimination because he received a bye to advance directly to the final based on this year’s earnings, will start the Meadowlands Pace from post No. 5 and is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. Huntsville is the even-money favorite from post four.
“I was thrilled to have last week off,” Brown said. “He needed it. Those two finals were pretty tough, so it was nice to give him that easy week.
“I think we’re in a good spot. He’s going to have to have a good trip. I don’t know if he has to have a great trip, but just so he has a nice trip.”
For his career, Downbytheseaside has won 13 of 20 races and finished worse than third only once. He has earned $900,606 and is owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco and Richard Lombardo — all from Ohio — plus Pennsylvania’s Diamond Creek Racing.
Sears, who was enshrined in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame on July 2 in Goshen, N.Y., is a two-time winner of the Meadowlands Pace. He won last year with Control The Moment and in 2005 with Rocknroll Hanover. Brown is making his second appearance in the Meadowlands Pace final. He was fifth in 2013 with Beach Memories.
With a win in the Meadowlands Pace, Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon would become the second stablemates to split the Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup, joining 2002 Pace champion Mach Three and 2002 Cup winner Red River Hanover.
“It’s very rewarding,” Brown said about having two pacers competing at the top of the 3-year-old division. “It’s hard to put into words.”
Ken Weingartner is the media relations manager for Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association.