A horse race is supposed to have only one winner. But that's never been the case with the Potomac Stakes at Freestate Raceway.
Six colts won their divisions of the $454,500 Potomac Saturday night. Seven colts won last year, five won in 1983 and two colts placed first in 1982, the first running of the Potomac.
It is this divisional format that has made the Potomac a popular and lucrative event. Instead of having preliminaries, six of the 12 races are main events, keeping interest and betting high.
A crowd of 10,151 turned out Saturday night and wagered $1,081,082, only the second time a million dollars has been wagered on a harness card in Maryland. The other was on last year's Potomac night, when a record $1,094,054 was wagered.
Freestate's director of racing, Ted Leonard, said that having six winners is a major reason for the success of the Potomac. According to Leonard, elimination racing, where the Potomac entrants would race one week, with the best returning the following week, has been considered but is not feasible because it would conflict with stakes events at other tracks. The other benefit of multiple divisions is that it draws top horses and horsemen.
Southern Gentleman turned in the fastest performance of 1:57 in the field of 48 2-year-old colts Saturday in winning the fourth division.
Trained and driven by Bruce Riegle, Southern Gentleman moved out quickly for an early lead, was challenged twice, but won by 2 1/2 lengths.
In the final division, Sherman Almahurst remained undefeated in six career starts when he overpowered the field at the half-mile mark and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:57 2/5. Sherman Almahurst paid only $2.40 to win and had $71,384 wagered on him to show. Usually, only a few thousand dollars are bet in the show pools at Freestate.
Other divisional winners were Singers Star (Billy Haughton), Smartest Remark (Donald Irvine Jr.), Tuscon Hanover (Riegle) and Maritime Hanover (Walter Case Jr.).