On opposite coasts, within a month of each other, Jade Prince and Fulla Strikes paced 1:54 1/5 miles last year, the fastest ever by 2-year-old pacers. Tonight, they face each other in the first division of the William E. Miller Memorial at Rosecroft Raceway.
Nat Lobell, a stablemate of Jade Prince, leads the field for the second $20,000 division of Rosecroft's biggest race. Billy Perkins, the race secretary, considers the field the best in the event's 23 years.
Only recently has Rosecroft been able to attract top horses, after it changed the conditions of the race, allowing entry to any 3-year-old.
The pacers also will be out to break the track record of 1:58 3/5 set a year ago by Nickawampus Joe. The half-mile racing oval has been remodeled and reconditioned this year and is considered as much as two seconds faster.
Past performances indicate fast times tonight, with a fast pace expected from Jazzy Spark in the first division and Rembrandt Hanover in the second.
Jack Kopas, a Canadian, will drive both Jade Prince and Nat Lobell. Jade Prince has three wins in five races this year and lifetime earnings of $119,562. Fulla Strikes, driven by Lloyd Daulton, has won two-thirds of his 21 career starters, including a 1:57 effort April 30 at Lexington, Ky.
Nat Lobell, a son of Nansemond, has won 11 of 16 career starts ,with earnings of $55,400 and mark of 2:00 1/5 as a 2-year-old at Saratoga Raceway.