But after watching her horse equal the world record for a pacer of any age racing on a five-eighths-mile track by winning last Saturday’s $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace in 1:48 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Coleman is starting to wonder, “What if?”
“I knew coming into a 4-year-old year it was going to be tough, but I also wish he didn’t get beat a couple weeks ago because I half had it in my mind that we could try to go undefeated,” Coleman said. “I know that’s crazy, but I’m pretty high on this colt.”
Betterthancheddar has won five of six races this year and earned $355,100 for owners Coleman and Steve Calhoun. His lone setback came by a nose to We Will See in the Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational on June 16.
Unraced as a 2-year-old, Betterthancheddar won 10 of 18 starts last season and banked $777,283, so his win in the Ben Franklin pushed his career earnings beyond $1 million -- to $1.13 million. Betterthancheddar ended 2011 by winning his last five races, including the Breeders Crown, American-National and Windy City Pace, and also captured the Cane Pace as he was victorious in seven of his last nine.
“I always said how good this horse was as a 2-year-old, even though he didn’t race as a 2-year-old because he got sick on me,” Coleman said about the son of Bettor's Delight-Lady Ashlee Ann. “As a 3-year-old I touted this horse and we had no luck early in the season, but he ended the season very strong. Now he’s come back very strong as a 4-year-old.
“He’s definitely grown up and matured more; he’s thicker, he’s longer. He now knows how to race. He was a little bit green before. The speed this horse has is unbelievable.”
Coleman said Betterthancheddar’s next start will be July 15 in the Des Smith at Rideau Carleton.
“I staked him kind of conservatively this year just because he’s a 4-year-old racing against all the aged horses,” Coleman said. “He’ll be in the Breeders Crown, he’ll be in the Canadian Pacing Derby, he’s in Lexington. So he’s got enough on his plate, but I didn’t completely stake him just being a 4-year-old. He doesn’t need to race 25 starts this year.”
In the Ben Franklin, Betterthancheddar and driver George Brennan got the lead with a :52.4 opening half-mile and held off We Will See by three-quarters of a length for the victory. His 1:48 mile equaled the record shared by Artistic Fella, Mister Big and We Will See.
“He was unbelievable,” Coleman said. “He’s gone a lot of big trips, but that was probably his biggest trip yet. It was pretty impressive.”
Impressive enough to wonder: What if?