Doug McNair believes his father’s trainee Aracache Hanover is about as ready as he’s going to be to pull an upset in Friday’s $431,400 William R. Haughton Memorial Final at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
McNair, 22, will leave from post five with the five-year-old son of Dragon Again, who is rated the 7-2 second choice on the morning line in the tenth race feature. The 12-race, stakes-filled program is the final live presentation of the 2012 Championship Meet, featuring Round 1 of the Vernon/Meadowlands Drivers Championship, a car giveaway, drawings for Bruce Springsteen VIP packages, a Diamond Dig, live music and fireworks. Post time is 6:35 p.m.
McNair’s father, Gregg, trains Aracache Hanover, who sports a career bankroll of $1,317,196 for owners William Switala and James Martin of Clarence Center, NY. The McNair’s are based in Guelph, Ontario.
In last year’s Haughton, Aracache Hanover and McNair set wicked fractions of :26.3, :53 and 1:20.1 before fading to sixth. He comes off a gutsy second to Golden Receiver in the US Pacing Championship on Hambletonian Day, August 4, his fourth first-over trip in his last five starts.
“That’s just the way they’ve driven him,” said McNair. “I used to always put him on the front, but he’s not leaving out of there like he used to. Last year, I would move him and he just kind of sat out there. He actually races well that way now. I watched him last week and he was awesome. He couldn’t have been driven differently and couldn’t have raced any better.”
The last time McNair drove Aracache Hanover, he finished fourth in the $174,735 Des Smith Classic at Rideau Carlton on July 15.
“In The Des Smith Classic, the breaks came on pretty good past the grandstand and through the second quarter,” noted McNair. “I had to grab him up pretty good after firing him out of there. We scoped him afterwards and he had flipped his palate.”
McNair acknowledges his main target on Friday is Golden Receiver and he has the utmost respect for his competition.
“Golden Receiver drew inside us again, so I might try to blast out of there and grab a two hole,” McNair speculated. “Golden Receiver is raw speed. He can leave in :25 and come home in :26. I tried beating him out of there one time at Woodbine this year and he had me by two lengths past the eighth pole.”
Aracache Hanover gave McNair his biggest win to date, the 2010 Confederation Cup, and the pacer has taken a while to reach top form this summer.
“My dad has done a great job getting our horse probably close to 100 percent right now. He took a new lifetime mark of 1:48.1 in his Ben Franklin elimination at Pocono Downs [on June 23]. He’s in all the big free-for-all events. He’ll step up and win one, and maybe on Friday.”
The McNairs, William Switala and James Martin also have Swinging Beauty in the $218,850 Golden Girls. The daughter of Art Major ships in off three in a row at Mohawk and drew post 10 in an 11-horse dash, carded as race seven.
“At the start of the year I was actually choosing off her because I was committed to another mare, Maureen Rocks. Swinging Beauty has really come around. She has been getting some good trips. She’s not very big, and she only four, but she’s handled them. She paced a 1:49.4 lifetime best two starts back. Before that had she dropped in class, won easily and that bravened her up. Last week, she actually came first up, she looked done out there, but she has a wicked brush to her.
McNair was the youngest driver at age 18 to win $1 million in his first year of driving in 2008, the youngest to reach 1,000 wins at age 20 in 2010, and the youngest to notch $10 million in purses at age 21.
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