Monday, November 24, 2014

With aptness of the season

The 30th-anniversary of the Breeders Crown approached with nostalgia and pride. There were many names to drop in the history of a series that many of us have espoused for three decades. Still, what went through my mind was how much of the 30th season appeared irrecoverable by fans and journalists.

So much had changed for so many horses and horsemen by November as the season stretched the limits of perceived time. By the Breeders Crown finals at the Meadowlands, it became evident that many insiders and fans had forgotten the characters that set this season afire at one time or another. Who knew at the beginning of January that such high-profiled people and equines were only to sparkle temporarily?

For instance, by November it was forgotten that Ake Svanstedt rose to superstardom and stayed in the limelight into deep summer. His transatlantic trotter Sebastian K became the fastest trotter of all time. Ake raced Centurion Atm to become the winter-book favorite for the 2015 Hambletonian. Your So Vain, another Ake star, came on the scene and won the initial Hambletonian Maturity.

Sebastian K didn’t supplement to the “Crown” because he couldn’t keep up the monstrous miles. Your So Vain went to the Crown but finished last in the Open Trot final. Centurion Atm didn’t make the frosh-colt-trot final and lost his status as winter-book favorite.

There were other trials that ended badly. In fact, there was one that began and ended badly—it’s the story of He’s Watching. The anticipated launch of his sophomore season disappointed all the forecasters of his glowing season when his first race on his home turf at Yonkers was a debacle. Then he showed promise and then he peaked with a Meadowlands Pace win that his supporters would not believe occurred because so much went wrong for the rest of the better colts in that field.

One of those was Always B Miki, who went on to win and earn respect but the the praise for Hes Watching ensued. Then, Hes Watching began watching all others leave him in the dust, losing and looking terrible losing. He rested and then faced a Crown elim. But by then, Always B Miki ruled and Hes Watching looked at the end of his season, unable to make the Crown final.

By Crown time, Always B Miki was being touted as the division winner and supplemented to the series. His Crown elim victory was a mere complement to already having beaten the best. Then, suffering a pastern fracture, he was scratched from the final. Earlier that day, Limelight Beach, who awoke to win the Little Brown Jug and also won his Crown elim, also bowed out.

As well, Colors A Virgin, who emerged from the Midwest to win the Jugette and came to the Crown supplemented, was looking to win the soph-filly pacer title but she couldn’t overcome a natty trip in the Crown final. It may turn up to be a blemish on her fine record.

What about Shake It Cerry? Sure, she was the Crown favorite but after she blew the Hambletonian Oaks, people stampeded to support Lifetime Dream, who defeated her in the “Oaks.” This abandonment was absurd. By Crown time, Shake It Cerry was finally getting the respect she never should have lost.

This leaves us with the most outrageous disregard of the season—turning away from Father Patrick. The sudden splurge of support for Nuncio is still a mystery. There should never have been such a turnaround, one that made the press shout “redemption” when Father Patrick won the Crown final. Father Patrick had nothing to redeem—he was always tons better than Nuncio before and after Takter got hold of him.

The public, however, forgot the rest of this season. It awarded Nuncio greatness, when two of the four races he won from Father Patrick were circumstantial because Father Patrick galloped instead of trotting. Let’s mention, too, who we have forgotten here—Trixton. He won the Hambletonian over Nuncio and as good as he got he never defeated Father Patrick.

All of that and plenty more contributes to the contents of harness racing’s 2014, a season that clouded the perspectives of many bettors and journalists. In Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline,” the queen suggests we have “aptness of the season,” a disposition that behaves with appropriateness. In 2014, too many bettors and journalists were apt to act through bias and betrayal, which is just plain dumb.

(photo by Ray Cotolo)

Thank you for following the major Breeders Crown hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands by visiting the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly. Archived reports can be found at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Breeders Crown finals, 2014 continued

The Breeders Crown finals analysis for Friday (Nov. 21) and Saturday (Nov. 22) continue from the TwinSpires harnessblog on the main site.

There will be only one more edition of this blog for 2014, which will be an epilogue essay addressing the the season. It is scheduled for the week following the finals.

This blog looks at the older events for both sexes on both gaits.

Friday, Nov. 21

Mares Trot ($250,000)

Bee A Magician will headline the wagering here, no doubt, but she will have to work for this victory. Classic Martine has been a problem for her, especially at the Meadowlands, and Ma Chere Hall goes for new connections (she chased “Bee” a lot at three and picked up some good checks). D’Orsay, of course, is still the highest priced winner we have supported this season, winning over the summer to pay $100 or so, and she is always available to topple a field at a price.

And then there’s Mistery Woman, who is getting better with age and recently ignored by the public when winning. Last week’s 15-1 win by Handover Belle depended upon Bee’s outland journey, while “Mistery” went off a notch less at 14-1. Mistery had the most impressive trip and should once again go off higher than she deserves. Bee will pick up the place, most likely getting a far better trip.

Saturday, Nov. 22

Mares Pace ($281,250)

Let’s allow the public to believe Anndrovette can win every Breeders Crown Mares Pace in which she is entered and take the odds down too far so we can rally with a price in this here-we-go-again group that always delivers deep challenged miles. Two supplements, Yagonnakissmeornot and Venus Delight, have more to lose than the regulars but don’t expect the others to make that an edge. If the two or three that want the front get too frisky with the fractions, the main closer, Rocklamation, will eat up the stretch with her one-dimensional gait.

However, this could wind up a strategic win with a last-mare-standing finish. Multi-talented Somwherovrarainbow will be in a good spot to avoid duels and dig in late. As well, Camille is on the rail and may be gifted more room than usual (she has disappointed a few times as a choice so perhaps she would like to be on the board as an outsider).

Open Pace ($400,000)

There are only seven stalwart pacers here, yet there could be a good price on Sweet Lou, considering he has not been scoring ones of late. He is still the best here and could come right back to his seasonal shape and eat up all four quarters. Some of these horses have loyal fans, so expect the win pool to be spread out. Foiled Again, Clear Vision, Thinking Out Loud and State Treasurer all have followers that will play for some kind of glory, as opposed to profit.

Open Trot ($500,000)

Four veteran trotters show up due to byes, so that means Commander Crowe, Creatine, Intimidate and Market Share had a week off to prepare for this heavy mile; heavy because the group is fast and experienced and each is full of his or herself. The she is Maven, who won the elim impressively against the males last week, going for the first time in the Takter barn. We were second last week with Your So Vain and that race brings us to this race regardless of the freshened foursome. One of that four, of course, is the foreign Commander Crowe. How his style affects the mile remains to be seen but considering the mixture of early-and-late speed here, Your So Vain is in the perfect spot and could be the perfect price for a score (which his trainer, Ake Svanstedt, would love to happen since his prize trotter, Sebastian K—who has beaten “Crowe” in Europe—is not in this event).


The Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site, have brought bettors exclusive coverage through 2014. Thank you for making our decisions a part of your wagering strategy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thirteen eliminations, supplements and more on first of two Meadowlands weekends

Here is some Breeders Crown news as we enter elimination weekend at the Meadowlands.

Just as we predicted, 
Always B Miki connections bought in as a supplement to take on the glamour-boy pacers in the Breeders Crown. The cost to supplement to the colt pace is $62,500. The Indiana-bred is trained by Joe Holloway. The colt won $778,982 this season, beating some of the top glamour boys. He is coming off a win in the Monument Circle, also as we predicted.

There were more supplements. Another we predicted is soph-filly pacer Color's A Virgin. She is also an Indiana-bred and you may remember she was our pick when she won the Jugette and then continued to win at Hoosier.

Two more soph-filly pacers, 
Sayitall BB and Weeper, and a pair of mare pacers, Yagonnakissmeornot and Venus Delight, were also supported by their owners with big cash to join the fields.
Yagonnakissmeornot is a $31,250 supplemental entry to the $281,250 Crown Mare Pace, which goes straight to a final next week. Venus Delight also gets to race in that final.  

Matron winner Weeper, trained by Kelly O’Donnell, and Sayitall BB from the Burke Racing Stable are soph-filly pacers whose connections also bought in to the event for them. Half of all supplemental fees are added to respective purses. The soph-colt pace and filly purses will be $531,250 and $593,750, respectively. 

TwinSpires will be live at the Meadowlands for the events. Check the TwinSpires harness blog by clicking here and get a jump on analyzing the elims.

The Breeders Crown Countdown continues through the weekend of the finals thanks to TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society.

Cartoons by Thom Pye


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Eliminations loom boldly as deadlines approach to commit

The Breeders Crown eliminations are where the spotlight turns at the Meadowlands Racetrack, hosting the $5.4 million 12-race Breeders Crown series. It’s decision time for foreign invitees, supplements and entries for the “Crown” which holds finals on Friday (Nov. 21) and Saturday (Nov. 22). By Friday (Nov. 7), foreign horses invited to participate must declare by noon.

Supplements for the three-year-old and open events are due Monday (Nov. 10) by noon. All supplement amounts are listed in U.S. dollars below (there are no supplements for the two-year-old races).

Gtd. Purse-Event-Supplement
$500,000-Three-Year-Old Events-$62,500
$500,000-Open Trot-$62,500
$400,000-Open Pace-$50,000
$250,000-Mare Pace-$31,250
$250,000-Mare Trot-$31,250

Horses eligible to the Breeders Crown events must enter by 9 a.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 11). Eliminations, if needed, will occur on Friday (Nov. 14) and Saturday (Nov. 15), both nights starting at the regular post time of 7:15 p.m.

As of this writing, Always B Miki’s connections have confirmed that the colt will supplement to the soph-colt pacing Crown. Still pending is the status of Color A Virgin in the soph-filly pace edition.

Sebastian K won’t be supplementing for the older trotters and neither will Natural Herbie.

The official rules state that “elimination races, if necessary, will be raced for a minimum purse of $25,000 each on Friday (Nov. 14) and Saturday (Nov. 15). If an elimination is required because more than 11, but less than 14 horses are entered, there will be a single elimination to “qualify” only enough horses that can be accommodated by the number of positions in the front tier of the starting gate.

“If there are eliminations, post positions in the final will be determined by an open draw with the exception that elimination winners in an order determined by lot, will draw for post positions number 1 through 5 in the final. All other finalists, including foreign invitees, will be placed in an open draw for the remaining post positions. Those horse(s) that receive a bye into the final will be in the open draw for post positions in the final.”

Four Breeders Crown distaff events will be raced Friday (Nov. 21) and the remaining eight finals will be raced on Saturday (Nov. 22). Both nights have a regular Meadowlands post time of 7:15 p.m. (EST).


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.