When the Rosecroft Raceway fall meets gets under way next Wednesday, the Maryland five-eighths mile oval will offer its usual blend of overnight events for trotters and pacers and then later spice things up with Maryland Sire Stakes and the fifth edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace.
Throughout much of the Rosecroft fall meet the emphasis will be on the various trotters and pacers that compete in the overnight races each Wednesday and Sunday evenings, including local stars Romantic Interest and What That Is. But the track will also host Maryland Sire Stakes finals on October 28 and November 8 and the $100,000 Potomac Pace on Sunday, November 15.
In its brief existence, the Potomac Pace has developed into the genuine centerpiece on the calendar. Each of the four previous winners posted sub-1:50 clockings, including the current all-age track record of 1:47.3 set three years ago by Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube) en route to being named champion aged pacer. All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) won the first edition and last year Endeavor (Tim Tetrick) upset Breeders Crown hero American History (Joe Bongiorno).
In the fall the Potomac has taken the place of the Graduate Series, which once made a stop at Rosecroft each spring. In fact, the last two editions of the Graduate produced memorable performances. George S (Walter Case, Jr.) and On The Road Again (Buddy Gilmour, Jr.) battled to a 1:54.4 dead-heat in 1985 then one year later Forrest Skipper (Lucien Fontaine) erased the all-age track record when he scored in 1:54 en route to being named champion aged pacer, pacer of the year and horse of the year.
In addition to the overnight horses are the normal array of drivers, including Frank Milby, Russell Foster, John Wagner, Roger Plante, Jr., Rick Still and Jonathan Roberts, who recently attained the 4,000th victory of his career in a race at Ocean Downs. Wagner eclipsed 5,500 victories this summer and Milby should reach the 3,000-win plateau in 2021.
“I’m excited to be racing at Rosecroft again,” Roberts said. “It’s always good for a change of pace. We have been racing on the half-mile tracks for four months now, so it will be nice to get back on a little bigger track. Getting that 4,000th win was a big milestone. Starting out, I never thought about milestones. But it feels good every time you reach one.”
Roberts, Milby and Foster will be among the familiar faces in the bike and Romantic Interest will seek to continue his dominant ways in the opener. Trained and driven by Milby for his mother, Candy Milby, Romantic Interest has won the Open Handicap on eight straight occasions and he recently prepped for his return to the Fort Washington oval by capturing an overnight event at Ocean Downs.
“He loves the track,” Milby said of Romantic Interest. “He’s been getting better with age. Early on he would show speed early and then tire. But now he can go a quarter in 26 and still have something left at the end of the mile.”
Rosecroft will also offer a bevy of Maryland Sire Stakes eliminations and finals, primarily for freshmen and sophomore fillies since the colts and geldings competed at Ocean Downs this summer.
The MDSS elims for three-year-old filly pacers and filly trotters will be held on Oct. 11 and 18 with the final slated for Oct. 28. The MDSS elims for two-year-old filly pacers and filly trotters will be contested on Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 with those finals scheduled for Nov. 8.