Thursday, September 29, 2011

Back to the ‘Futurity’

Unexpected things happen this time of year in harness racing, even when one is not dealing with a crop as quirky as the 2011 soph-colt trotters. You could say that the members of this crop “make it or break it,” since so many have lost by their own missteps.  

On Oct. 2 at The Red Mile comes the Kentucky Futurity, the third jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown, though this year (with no available candidate) it is just one more Breeders Crown prep.  

The gals get to go, too, in the filly version for the sophs. They have also had their Achilles heels showing through the year. All of the action is available on TwinSpires and players of the “Futurity” card get 10X points for the dollars wagered.  

First, let’s look at the boys’ field. Ten of them are entered in The Red Mile event, worth $490,000, contested in two heats, each worth $196,000. One soph-colt trotter must win both heats to be the champ or there will be a $98,000 race-off between the pair of heat winners.  

Fawkes (post 7), Whit (post 8) and Dejarmbro (post 9, a $50,000 supplement) are not eligible to the “Crown.” A win could make connections consider buying into the event but for now that is a moot point.  

Hambo-winner Broad Bahn leaves from post 5 after a disturbing performance in the Canadian Trotting Classic that saw him quit on a dime while attempting the lead and finish 10th. It was deemed that an irregular heartbeat was the cause. Since then, trainer Noel Daley has qualified the colt in 1:53.2 at the Lexington oval, allowing his appearance in the Futurity.  

Daley told Ken Weingartner of the USTA publicity department that he could not be sure if the problem would arise during the Futurity. He said, “There’s no rhyme or reason or pattern to [the condition]. Hopefully it’s a one-time deal. But obviously there is a concern.” Daley said “Bahn” was bright and healthy in his qualifier.  

Bahn’s main nemesis, Manofmanymissions is back in the thick of the action, a tepid favorite in the morning line over Bahn. Even without a condition like that which Bahn suffers, “Man” is apt to misstep at any time as well as he can smoothly float away from almost any competitors. So, his history tells us he will be an underlay.  

Post 1 is for VC Chocoholic, one of Trond Smedshammer’s two entries (Dejarmbro is the other). This colt has not been able to stay smooth enough to battle the others in the heavy competition. When he is on gait he has shown a lot of talent.  

Opening Night (post 2) was third in the Hambo, as we predicted (the triple was ruined by Whiskey Tax, who is missing in action here). We finally nabbed a win from this guy at 6-1 recently. He is a closer and may be flying at the end if speed or gaits collapse. He will be an overlay.  

Big Rigs (post 4) has not been able to live up to his frosh ability and as a speed horse would have to have some kind of luck to win either of these heats.  

Luckycharm Hanover (post 6) is also and also-trot in the division and needs some bad conduct around him to assist in a win.  

Live Jazz (post 10) hardly belongs here and this post doesn’t lend him much support.  

Under the circumstances, the scenario to hope for in heat one is where Opening Night can stay clear of trouble but get the kind of trouble that is manufactured by a speed duel. Any horse that wins the first heat will be in a better spot to win the second but odds will change drastically for a first-heat winner in the second chapter. Trying to hit this first one with an overlay is the true target. We can count on only one scenario, as prescribed with Opening Night, to catch a price here. It was bad enough when merely breaking was a problem with the best horses, now you have to deal with a heart problem that is just as unpredictable as any trotter that goes on a gallop.   

Futurity femmes

The “Oaks” winner, Bold And Fresh, is back to take on a similar crew and is back looking like the longshot she delivered in the Oaks. Why she would attract major wagers is beyond us, since there are “now” fillies here, each one as promising as the next.  

Pantholops, who we gave you at an astounding $34 win price last out, is a ton of speed that has found its gait and she is going to show some quick foot on the two-turn mile.  

Firstclassprincess is getting better for Trond Smedshammer, who is under-rated for his achievements with filly trotters and who is the only trainer responsible for a Trotting Triple Crown in recent memory.  

Lady Rainbow finally won after flirting with success while battling the best all season. In fact, she almost beat “Bold” in the Oaks with a stunning close that began too late to produce the top purse check.  

Hey Mister is the stealthy type, known to toss in a giant mile here and there—how about here? She has a 50-percent win rate, after all, for trainer Ross Croghan.  

Crys Dream was once the sweetheart of the division but tumbled amid controversy and a wicked turn of form. Still, she is not to be denied.  

The others could provide semi-surprises but all in all one of the five listed above should win the classic in any combination of two heats.

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