Beach Towel will try to solidify his bid to become 1990's harness horse of the year tonight in the Messenger Stakes at Rosecroft Raceway.
The Messenger, the middle jewel of a pacing triple crown, is part of an excellent 13-race card at Rosecroft that also features two divisions of the $255,300 Kentucky Standardbred Sales Co. Pace. Miss Easy is the 1-5 favorite to win her 12th straight race in one division of the race.
Beach Towel has won 24 of 28 races and earned more than $2 million. Since his 1990 debut at Rosecroft in April, Beach Towel has been remarkable in numerous stakes victories, including the $1,152,500 Meadowlands Pace and the Adios at the Meadows, where he paced a 1:51 4/5 mile.
Should Beach Towel's form hold for the remainder of the year, the 3-year-old would be shoo-in for horse of the year.
"That's something you strive for," said trainer-driver Ray Remmen. "He certainly deserves it on what he's done so far. But he still has some races to go."
Beach Towel's main opponent in the Messenger will be the Ken Seeber-trained Jake And Elwood and In The Pocket, the 2-year-old champion.
Seeber, who trained Sandman Hanover, last year's winner of the Messenger, said Beach Towel is the horse to beat.
"There's no question that on paper Beach Towel is the best horse," he said. "In The Pocket could beat Beach Towel under the right circumstances. Jake And Elwood could beat Beach Towel under the right circumstances. I'm hoping there'll be the right circumstances there."
Jake And Elwood was a $250,000 purchase of a consortium of investors who paid a $30,000 supplemental fee to make the colt eligible to the Messenger. The group also paid a $25,000 fee two weeks ago to get Jake And Elwood into the Cane Pace, the first triple crown leg, at Yonkers Raceway. Jake And Elwood rewarded his owners by winning the Cane, pushing his yearly earnings to more than $1 million.
Beach Towel will face Jake And Elwood in the second Messenger elimination (eighth race). In The Pocket is the favorite in the first elimination (seventh race). The first four finishers in each elimination return in the 11th race to determine the Messenger champion. Each elimination is worth $66,656 and the final goes for $311,059.