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Sock It Away has proved that a horse does not have to be big to be good.
And his exceptional East Coast campaigns have earned him the title of Atlantic-bred pacing male of the past decade.
The five-year-old son of Pang Shui earned the honour in another contentious category in a poll of local harness racing participants.
Purchased by Reg MacPherson of Stratford from the Meridian Farms consignment for $13,500 from the 2016 Atlantic Classic yearling sale, Sock It Away immediately stamped himself as a champion when he began his career.
The Kevin MacLean-trainee was a 1:56 victor in a track-record performance at Red Shores at the Summerside Raceway in July 2017 in a two-year-old pacing gelding record that still stands at the Prince County oval. He reeled off seven wins as a two-year-old, including a 1:55.3 Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP) track record for geldings in a division of the P.E.I. Colt Stakes. That record only stood for three weeks before Half Cut lowered it to 1:55.2 in the Atlantic Breeders Crown final.
Age three was where Sock It Away stamped himself as an all-time great. He won his first start of the year at Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John, N.B., and delivered a 1:54.2 track-record performance for three-year-old pacing geldings at the Summerside Raceway.
The close races are the ones that are remembered, and the 2018 Island Breeders Final was an exceptional finish with Sock It Away, driven by Marc Campbell, finishing together with Woodmere Ideal Art (Jason Hughes).
- A look at horses who received the most votes for Atlantic-bred pacing male of the decade.
- 1. Sock It Away
- 2. Proven Desire
- 3. The Rev
- 4. Untouchable One
- 5. Touch Of Lightning
Both Hughes and Campbell were convinced Woodmere Ideal Art was the winner after the race, but the official photo told a different story as Sock It Away found the wire first by the narrowest of margins in the $11,000 championship final.
That would be his 16th win of the season as the pacer went undefeated in stakes action at age three. He would move on to win two more races before his streak was snapped at 18 straight in December 2018 by Governor’s Plate-champion Czar Seelster.
Graduating to aged company when he turned four, Sock It Away was sent to the U.S. After going winless in seven starts, he then came back to the East Coast that summer to deliver a 1:53.2 victory at the CDP in line to Corey MacPherson.
Sock It Away has 30 career wins from 45 lifetime starts with $128,587 in earnings. An injury cut his four-year-old season short but, hopefully, we will see more of Sock It Away when he is healthy in 2020.
What they said
Here’s what harness racing officials had to say about Sock It Away.
- “The ultimate professional. From the first time I had the chance to sit behind him, he gave you the feeling that he was special.”
Trainer Bo Ford
- “We had the pleasure of breeding and raising Sock It Away. He was dominant at two and three and his undefeated streak will be something long remembered.”
Breeder William Andrew
- “What can I say? He was tough, handy, fast and dependable. He made a few bad drives look good. I loved him and always looked forward to driving him.”
Driver Marc Campbell
- “A little horse with a big will to win. Was a huge thrill to drive; he felt bigger and stronger the further he went.”
Driver Corey MacPherson
- “Great colt, lucky to drive him once and loved him. … Hopefully his best is yet to come.”
Driver Ryan Campbell
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.