Tommy Haughton, son of harness racing legend Billy, had his choice of driving either Fozzie Bear or Better Heather in last night's first division of the $116,000 Potomac Stakes for 2-year-olds at Freestate Raceway in Laurel.
He chose wrong.
Haughton and Better Heather were beaten by a neck when Fozzie Bear, benefiting from a flawless drive by Wayne Smullin, rallied from seventh place at the half-mile mark to win in 1:59.4
Smullin--Freestate's leading driver the last two season--was denied a Potomac Stakes double when his favored Sweet Pepper finished third in the second division. That race was won Hampton Court, driven by Bruce Riegle. Hampton Court's time was 2:01 over the 5/8-mile surface.
Second choice George Allen, named for breeder George Allen Smith, finished second.
Neither Billy Haughton nor representatives of Fozzie Bear's owners, Castleton Farm, were present for their horse's upset victory. They chose to be at the Meadowlands in New Jersey to watch the $1 million Meadowlands Pace, in which they were both represented.
The entry of Fozzie Bear and Better Heather paid $6.20 to win, $7.20 to place, and $3.60 to show. Sandpiper Hanover paid $4.80 to show.
Hampton Court paid $19.80, $9.80, and $4.40. George Allen paid $4.20 and $3.40, and Sweet Pepper paid $2.80.
The attendance for the first night of Freestate's 58-day season was 6,510.