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Still, Beach Towel's racing future wasn't certain. By comparison with thoroughbred racing, harness racing purses for 2-year-olds are enormous. By the time many young stars race as 3-year olds, they have been burned out. Not Beach Towel. Going into the Breeders Crown, he had won 17 of 22 races in 1990 and $1,908,394. One of his losses was the result of breaking stride as he led the $1 million North America Cup final in Toronto in June.
For the Breeders Crown, a 20-knot wind was blowing into the faces of the pacers on the Pompano backstretch. Beach Towel got away cleanly and quickly from the 3 position, but as Remmen guided him to the lead along the rail, he glanced worriedly over his left shoulder. There, dangerous on the outside, were Kiev Hanover and In The Pocket, both tall and lean, with the sleeker, racy thoroughbred look of today's pacers. Kiev Hanover had two wins over Beach Towel this year, and In The Pocket one.
Remmen, who didn't want to use up his horse fighting off a wearing challenge from In The Pocket, momentarily ceded the lead to the rival colt, then made a quick move back to the front. That left In The Pocket in the 2 hole, where Remmen knew he would be content to stay, waiting for the stretch challenge. Kiev Hanover, who was parked two horses wide, in fifth place behind Global Assault, was less of a threat. Still, in both his victories over Beach Towel, Kiev Hanover had come on to win from an outside position.
Beach Towel set a blistering pace, clocking 26[4/5] for the quarter and 54[2/5] for the half mile. As Beach Towel powered into the stiff wind on the backstretch, Rosenfeld felt his stomach tightening. Too fast, he thought. Flying swiftly through the backstretch gusts, Beach Towel slowed to a 29[2/5] for the third quarter. Fred Carmody, a 46-year-old bewhiskered ex-barber who is now Beach Towel's groom, smiled. "Go get 'em, Bozo," he whispered.
"He's fearless but intelligent," says Carmody, who nicknamed him after the famous clown. "And thank god he doesn't know how powerful he is. If he did, it would be all over for me." Beach Towel used to enjoy wrestling with his slightly built groom, who would wrap both arms around the powerful colt's neck and let the horse swing Carmody's 160 pounds about the stable. Then one day Beach Towel slammed the groom into a wall, and Carmody gave up the game.
Looking down from his Pompano Park perch, Rosenfeld saw In The Pocket and Kiev Hanover coming out of the turn in their preferred positions: In The Pocket primed in the 2 hole, Kiev Hanover wide and eager to explode. D�j� vu. But Global Assault faded under the exhausting pace and forced Kiev Hanover even wider, taking him out of the chase. Not that it mattered by then.
"Coming out of the turn I could feel the power flowing from him," says Remmen, who shifted Beach Towel into a higher gear. For a moment, the pursuers appeared to stand still. There was no chase to the wire. Beach Towel increased his lead by three lengths over the last quarter, covered in 27[3/5]. Beach Towel, making three turns on a?-mile track, paced the mile in 1:51[2/5], smashing the old Breeders Crown record of 1:53. The winner's share of the purse, $183,466, increased Beach Towel's 1990 earnings to a single-season record of $2,091,860.
It may have been Beach Towel's last campaign. He could earn $1 million next year, but there are no major classics for 4-year-old harness horses, and he would have to grind it out mostly in chunks of $30,000 to $50,000, and always at the risk of injury. Rosenfeld already has begun negotiations with major breeding farms and would consider syndicating Beach Towel if the numbers are right. "I would love to see him run next year," he says, "but all the breeding farms we have talked with want to see him stand right now. I can appreciate why they feel that way."
For Rosenfeld, it's back to the sales to look for another diamond in the rough. Uptown bought seven horses at this year's yearling sales. One is Ferrari Seelster, a full brother to Falcon Seelster, the fastest standardbred ever over a half mile. Rosenfeld paid $43,000 for Ferrari Seelster, a relative bargain. But that's the future, perhaps the opening pages of another storybook. It will take something spectacular to beat the Beach Towel tale.