Despite going off-stride in the final turn, Betting Line recovered to win the $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park by four lengths for his eighth straight win.
by Bob Roberts
It’s not easy becoming a racetrack millionaire. Especially in U.S. dollars.
Betting Line who had never before raced outside of Ontario, captured Saturday night’s $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park, but not before making several hearts skip a beat after he skipped a stride or two in the clubhouse turn.
Though his margin of victory was four lengths, Betting Line’s connections, including co-owner Christine Calhoun, trainer Casie Coleman and driver David Miller, had to wait out an inquiry by the track’s judges who put a hold on the winner’s circle ceremonies as they scanned the race video for a possible violation of the breaking rule by Betting Line.
After several anxious and silent moments, the result was made official and Betting Line, a winner of 14 of 21 starts and the $1 million (Cdn) Pepsi North America Cup, was the sport’s newest millionaire. The $150,000 he earned for a Milstein mile in 1:51 put his career earnings at $1,133,505.
Pure Money, the lone filly in the field, rallied from the back of the pack to finish second, a nose before Magnum J, who held a similar margin on the Milstein pacesetter, Mr Wiggle Pants. Sintra finished fifth, followed by Duel of Truth and Don’tcallmefrancis.
While the Milstein money is nice, Betting Line, now a winner of eight consecutive starts, gave both Miller and Coleman a few thrills they didn’t need.
“He got to running in on me in the turn,” said Miller. “He was uncomfortable and put in an extra step. Once I got him back, he just took off.”
Coleman believes that too many firsts contributed to her horse’s uneasiness turning for home.
“He had lots of firsts tonight,” she said. “First time he shipped, first time in the States, first time on a half-mile track.”
That said, Coleman was more than happy with the son of Bettor’s Delight—Heather’s Western’s performance.
“He was awesome,” she said. “But I do have to fix that problem in the turn.”
And the main reason to remedy Betting Line’s missteps is that the next time he races on a half-mile track will more than likely be in the Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
Coleman knows her way around Delaware, having sent out back-to-back winners of the Jug in Michael’s Power in 2012 and Vegas Vacation the following year.
Participating in the Milstein has proven a good luck charm in Delaware as the last two Jug champions, Wiggle It Jiggleit and Limelight Beach, both raced in Northfield’s richest race.
Not violating harness racing’s breaking rule is just the latest stroke of good fortune for Betting Line. Late last month, following a score in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold division at Mohawk Racetrack, he was involved in a accident when the trailer, driven by Coleman assistant Mark McKinnon was hit in a head-on collision.
While McKinnon reported that Betting Line “was a little agitated,” he was unhurt.
Mr. Wiggle Pants, starting from the rail, was first away from the gate with Sintra on his heels. Betting Line rated third while well back after an opening quarter in :25.4, but was the first to challenge for the lead when the field got to the half in :54.4.
The tightness of the turns on a half-mile track took a toll on Betting Line as he sagged a bit heading into the backstretch a second time. But he quickly gained on a determined Mr Wiggle Pants and was at his throat after three-quarters in 1:22.3.
Then came the misstep. However, Miller got Betting Line back on stride and he exploded down the Northfield stretch for his largest winning margin of the year.
Heavy rains turned the Northfield Park surface to slop earlier, but the track was upgraded to good prior to post time for the Milstein.
The Milstein had an early afternoon defection when Peter Blood and Rick Berks’ Boston Red Rocks was scratched sick. A Dan Patch award winner as a freshman after winning the Breeders Crown, the son of Rocknroll Hanover—McGibson was to have started from the outside post eight.