Split The House rewards owners’ patience and investment

Crawford Farms Racing takes first Breeders Crown title.

by Jay Wolf

Last season, the older pacing division was dominated by two horses — Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit. This season, horses have been taking turns in the spotlight.

Saturday it was Split The House’s time to shine as he won the $421,000 Crown Open Pace in a mild upset at 8-1.

There was action early and often as the field of 10 was sent on their way.

All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) was blasted off the gates wings from the outside post number nine. Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube) and Split The House and driver Brett Miller were also sent for the early lead, but All Bets Off broke the quarter mile beam in :25.4.

All Bets Off, Mach It So (David Miller) and Split The House all held the lead during the second quarter of the mile, but Split The House was on the lead past the half in :53.4.

David Miller wanted Mach It So, who was the slight betting choice off his win of last week’s elimination, on top and retook the lead at the three-quarters in 1:21.1.

As the field headed into the stretch, Split The House was eased into the passing lane and sprinted clear to score a length win over a hard charging McWicked (Brian Sears). Mach It So was second and All Bets Off rallied for fourth.

The winning time of 1:48.1 established a new lifetime mark for Split The House, who paid $18.40 to win.

“My whole plan was to follow David (Miller). In the middle of the first turn when I had a couple guys out there and I had David behind me I thought I had a shot of getting them turned loose and then moving to the front and hoping David came, and it actually worked out,” said Brett Miller.

“I went in the passing lane and I was pretty confident and then late down by the wire, I’m not even sure who it was on the far outside (McWicked). They were getting close but he still felt strong,” Brett said.

The five-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover – Shake That Junk is owned by Crawford Farms Racing and conditioned by Chris Oakes.

The title was Al and Michelle Crawford’s first crown win, Oakes’ second and Brett’s third.

The winner was bred by Fair Winds Farm of New Jersey and he now has career earnings of $606,333.

Split The House had only five starts on the season prior to the Crown final.

“Last week we felt like he needed another start and we were surprised how good he was last week and that gave me a lot of confidence tonight,” said Miller.

“(Split The House)’s got the size. He’s a great big horse, very well gaited. He can leave the gate in 24 seconds if you wanted to. He’s just an all-around great horse. You can do anything you want with him,” said Miller.

“He’s just a beast. He’s tenacious and he comes through every single thing,” said Michelle Crawford.

“He’s had some issues… but we knew that we overcame the obstacles and he’s just going to be there in the next few years,” said Crawford. “He’s a gelding, so, you know, we’re just excited to have him back next year.“

How does a Crown win feel for Crawford Farms?

“I don’t even know, like I’m so numb right now,” said Crawford. “We had a couple of opportunities. We had Rainbow Room (third in the two-year-old filly pace). We had Homicide Hunter (placed seventh in the Open Trot) and he hit the back of a wheel tonight. We saw Funknwaffles from the back coming up and finishing fifth. I was getting disheartened and thought, ‘Holy moly.’

“We supplemented two (Homicide Hunter and Funknwaffles)… but, you know, it’s an investment in the industry and sometimes it pays you back, so it’s good.”