So Much More, Canada’s pacing queen, advances to fifth-consecutive Roses Are Red final

by Melissa Keith

The reigning O’Brien Older Pacing Mare of the Year has her trophies – three divisional O’Brien Awards (2020, 2022, 2023) to be specific. Yet she is still in search of her first roses, Woodbine Mohawk Park’s Roses Are Red Stake, to be precise.

So Much More has raced in the eliminations and/or finals for the last five editions of the Roses Are Red, Canada’s first Grand Circuit event of the year for female pacers 3-years-old and up.

Her results have been frustratingly close.

Third to 2023 Dan Patch Pacing Mare of the Year Grace Hill in 2023.

Second to 2021 Dan Patch Horse of the Year Test of Faith in their 2022 elimination, but eighth in the 2022 final after a parked-out trip.

Third to 2021 Dan Patch Pacing Mare of the Year Lyons Sentinel in 2021.

Third to 2019 Dan Patch 3-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year Warrawee Ubeaut in the 2020 edition.

So Much More (p, 7, 1:49.1s; $1,260,547) is owned by Don Beatson of Granton, ON, Kenn Beatson of Palgrave, ON, and Cole England of Exeter, ON. The daughter of Big Jim—Ladysai was bred by Doug MacPhee of New Haven, PEI, who welcomed a Malicious half-brother to “Canada’s Pacing Queen” this spring.

Friday night (June 7), the 8-year-old mare defied her 32-1 odds with a fast-closing place finish behind 1-9 favorite Twin B Joe Fresh in the first of the card’s two Roses Are Red eliminations.

Driver James MacDonald skillfully positioned So Much More for a ground-saving late rally at Mohawk in her race 3 elimination. They trailed seventh to the half, then emerged third-over on the final turn, encountering stalled cover as first-up Dabarndawgswatchin failed to advance from fifth.

For the stretch drive, the mare nicknamed “Sophie” went back to the pylons and sprinted to the wire in :27.4, the fastest closing quarter in the 1:50.4 mile won by Twin B Joe Fresh.

Driving back to So Much More’s home at the farm of Don Beatson, England said he was proud to be the mare’s caretaker when his family takes her on the road to race. His grandfather, Don Beatson, takes care of her on a daily basis at his farm.

England said he was confident in Sophie’s chances in the 2024 Forest City Pace at The Raceway at Western Fair. On May 31, So Much More defended her title with a going-away 1:53 victory over 2024 Margaret Juravinski Memorial winner Talk Curdy To Me.

“I would never say we expect to win a race, but she loves the half-mile track, and it all worked out,” said the mare’s part-time groom.

Trainer Don said James MacDonald “gave her a really good drive” in both the Forest City Pace and the Roses Are Red elimination, but So Much More remains a powerhouse in her own right.

“She’s older and everything, but she’s as good as she ever was,” he told HRU.

The elusive Roses Are Red title is one that the co-owners agreed was a longstanding goal for So Much More.

“It sure is!” said Don. “We’d really like to get that one. They always bring the heavy horsepower.”

The quantity and quality of distaff pacers in the 2024 Roses Are Red required two eliminations, the second of which was won in 1:49.3 by Always B Naughty (Louis-Philippe Roy), who staged a mild 5-2 upset as she held off 2023 Canadian horse of the year Sylvia Hanover.

“There were 22 paid in to start, and only 14 of them entered,” said England. “We thought that our heat was pretty tough, going into the heat with seven horses instead of six.”

As usual, they watched together with Kenn in the WMP paddock.

“It was the three of us,” said England. “[Other horsepeople] were all watching their own horse, but lots of people came up to us after the race to say congratulations.”

So Much More’s latest Roses Are Red elim was not without suspense.

“We were worried when she was trailing the field,” said Don. “But she keeps trying and the amount of wins she has, she’s a fan favorite, that’s for sure.”

So Much More has never followed the Grand Circuit like many divisional peers. Plans to compete in the 2023 Cleopatra Invitational at Scioto Downs fell through last July due to a heatwave, said England. It would have been the mare’s first American start.

“She was scratched because it was about 35 degrees [Celsius] and it felt like 40 degrees [Celsius], so we didn’t think it was a good idea,” England said. “It was a seven-hour drive, not including the border [crossing].”

This year, So Much More will remain based in Ontario, despite two past invitations to Red Shores Charlottetown’s prestigious Gold Cup and Saucer in the province of her birth. She won her first baby race at the PEI oval on June 23, 2018.

“We don’t have anything else this year, except the Milton,” said Don, who enjoys retirement while looking after his one-mare racing stable. “She’s happy and healthy and she likes the routine of racing.”

“As far as it goes now, she’ll stay at Mohawk,” said England, even if it means occasionally facing male pacers as she has in the past. “It didn’t hurt her, racing the boys. It isn’t the best, but it’s better than three or four weeks off.”

Don said he jogs So Much More twice a week, and she is turned out for a few hours daily with a pasture buddy.

“Norman is a mini-pony,” Don said. “He’s been there for about three years. They go off by themselves and roll and play and run [over the] seven or eight acres.”

Like other equine mascots, Norman can’t accompany So Much More to Mohawk.

“[Norman] stays at home,” said Don. “They don’t like you bringing them [to the track].”

It doesn’t bother So Much More, whose resilience continues to draw admirers whenever she races. England said that “people bring her carrots.” Her braided mane, on display in her bigger races, attracts compliments.

“Kenn’s the one who likes to braid her,” said England. “She’d be mad at us if we tried!”

Australian SKY Racing presenter Brittany Graham told this publication in March that she hoped to meet the celebrated mare on North America Cup night.

“It would be great to see So Much More in the flesh, as her longevity and overall record is so admirable,” Graham said.

With 72 wins from 170 starts to date, So Much More’s remarkable consistency and love of the game make her an outlier among the top mares.

To put her longevity in perspective, 2019 Roses Are Red champion Warrawee Ubeaut has now produced two foals. Lyons Sentinel, the 2021 winner, had her first foal this spring, a Bulldog Hanover colt. Test of Faith, the 2022 winner, retired in August 2023.

The defending Roses Are Red champion Grace Hill finished fifth in this year’s elim, just making it into the 10-mare Saturday night (June 15) final. So Much More swept past her down the long Mohawk stretch, seemingly immune to the passage of time.

Two years older than Grace Hill, and twice the age of several finalists, Sophie is still making her mark. So Much More drew post 8 in the $305,000 Roses Are Red final, set for Saturday (June 15).