RSS Feed for this Blog

Friday, November 28, 2008

Breeders Crown

- Eight Breeders Crown races worth a total of $4.9 million at the Meadowlands tonight - and yes, that's Breeders without the damn apostrophe! All of the participants will have been in the detention barn since no later than 11:30 Friday night.

In the two-year old filly trot, I'll try to get things off with a bang with Timelesswinner Two (10-1). No doubt that she benefited from a perfect trip behind the cover of Yursa Hanover (6-1) when she just missed to that one in their elimination heat. But this consistent filly, who has legit excuses in her only two out-of-the-money finishes in 12 career starts (and who held her own against Explosive Matter, who will vie for favoritism in the colt and gelding division), is live at the price and can take this with a little racing luck. Honorable Daughter (5-2) set a world record for a 5/8ths track at Dover two back; she just got caught in her elim by the overlaid pocket rocket Musical Mystery (9-2) after setting the pace into a stiff wind which may have skewed the results towards closers, at least earlier in the elimination card. The aforementioned Yursa Hanover was giant, holding on after finding herself first over into that wind, and I wonder if the effort may take something out of her tonight.

Front-runners held up later in the card last Friday. But that may be because of the quality of the horses that ran later on, such as Hawaiian Drink (2-1) in the two-year old filly pace, for trainer Tracy Brainard. This daughter of Breeders Crown winner I Am A Fool brushed to the lead into that wind in her elimination last week, and came home in 26 1/5 for her 4th win in a row, and 8th in 12 starts. Fox Valley Topaz (15-1) got up for 4th in that heat after backing up to last. That was actually her first out-of-the-money finish in 14 starts, and she'd be a bargain at her morning line.

The three-year old filly trot features the top three finishers in the Hambletonian Oaks, who also knocked heads in the recent Matron Stakes at Dover Downs. Imagine, horses actually racing often enough to establish rivalries! Stage Show (7-2), third in the Hambo Oaks and first in the Matron, gets the edge here, in my humble opinion of course. She took a break after going offstride in consecutive races at the Red Mile, and came back raging with an elimination win before taking the Matron final. She was first over in her Breeders Crown elimination and got beat by a couple who she really shouldn't have lost to. Of course, that was just to qualify, and I look for a better result with a better trip here. Hambo Oaks winner Creamy Mimi (5-1) similarly bounced back in the Matron after going off form, but had no excuse when she had dead aim on the top pick in the final. Lantern Kronos (5-2) was 5th in that race with a bad post, and has another one here. Just two pari-mutuel races for this filly since she was scratched from the same-day final of the Kentucky Futurity on Oct 3, and I get the vibe that she may have lost her edge.

The two-year old trot for the boys seems an excellent race to just watch. It's a matchup of two young colts who have been simply brilliant thus far. Muscle Hill (7-5) is seven for eight, and hasn't really been threatened of late, least of all in his facile elimination win. Explosive Matter (5-2) is unbeaten in just five races, the most recent of which was his elimination win, accomplished 3/5ths of a second faster than Muscle Hill.

Deweycheatumnhowe is the 6-5 morning line favorite for the three-year old trot. He's beaten all of these before (though he's been beaten by two of them in the two times he's been beaten) in compiling his lifetime record of 22 wins in 24 tries. However, there are obvious questions given the throat abscess that caused him to spend a few days under observation at Cornell. Trainer/driver Ray Schnittker said that "about 80 percent better than he was before, so that's a really good sign." I don't know how encouraging that sounds, really. Don't want to see him get beat in his final start...but just in case, how about a flyer on Holiday Credit (10-1). This colt always puts in an honest effort, has proved that he belongs in this company, and could benefit from a good trip from the two hole. Crazed (4-1) has beaten the favorite in both of his defeats, and seems clearly second best on form. But I'm queasy about backing him from the far outside ten post in an 11 horse field (11 horse starts on the rail behind the 1 horse). Cloud Casino (20-1) seems a rank outsider, but is a hunch bet for those of us who grew up at Roosevelt Raceway.

In the two-year old pace for colts and geldings, this time I'll go for the horse from the ten post. Art Colony (4-1) is a nose and a head short of being unbeaten in six career races. A late starter who moved quickly into stakes company, he got a brief break before getting nosed late in his elimination by Captain Sir (8-1). Son of Artsplace figures to get enough action up front to set up a late surge and make amends here. Major in Art (9-5) has speed, the rail, and will be the one to run down with Sears. Dial Or Nodial (5-1) and If I Can Dream (8-1) both hung on to qualify after tough first-over trips, and either is capable with better racing luck tonight.

In the three-year old filly pace, Tug River Princess (3-1) meets up with Native Bride (5-2). Each has been spectacular this year, and each particularly so in her respective elimination last week. Tug River Princess won despite a tough first-over journey, and Native Bride made two powerful moves to get her 7th straight win. The latter was the winner of their only meeting, when she took advantage of her post position advantage to get the jump and force her rival to go first over against her. Tonight, Tug River Princess gets the rail, and the roles are likely to be reversed. But Native Bride was so visually impressive last week that I don't doubt she could handle the adversity. I give her the slight edge....but I don't see either one going off nearly as high as their morning lines. Likely a race to watch.

And finally, we save the best (arguably, say the Dewey fans) for last. The great, already immortal Somebeachsomewhere (3-5) will make his farewell appearance in the three-year old pace. This indescribably awesome son of Mach Three returns to the scene of his only defeat, which also may have been one of his best performances - his loss to Art Official in the Meadowlands Pace. And though Art Official is out of action with an injury, in his stead is another worthy rival in Shadow Play (4-1). The Little Brown Jug winner gave the Beach all he could handle in the Messenger at Yonkers (as if the weather and track conditions weren't enough). Though trainer Brent MacGrath and drive Paul MacDonnell lucked out in the post draw with number three, Shadow Play still has an advantage breaking from the two hole. Assuming that MacDonnell doesn't wish to engage Shadow Play in a damaging early duel for the lead, he will likely face a decision early on as to when and whether to engage. And chances are that Somebeachsomewhere will once again have to cede position to his rival on the turn for home. On the other hand, I doubt that Shadow Play will be allowed a second quarter breather as he got at Yonkers. Won't be easy, but here's betting that the Beach goes out a winner.

More on the races from Pull the Pocket. Best of luck and have a great day....and night.


Anonymous said...

From Sunny Jim in Jersey

Hi Alan -

Appreciate your nods to harness racing now and again. The trotters and pacers can knock heads against each other from week to week and come back in 7 days to do it again, which to me is an advantage for racing fans. Tonight's big races - as well as the whole undercard - feature the various divisions with horses that have been meeting up all year long.

Deweycheatum and Somebeachsomewhere are 41 for 44 lifetime between them and this will be each one's last race. Horse of the Year between these two will be a tough choice should both win tonight.

It even looks like the people that run harness racing will initiate ways to try to keep such champion three-year-olds running at age four. They may very well create a model after which their ass-sitting counterparts in thoroughbred racing might follow, if the latter ever stop acting as though it were still 1961.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Tin Cup Chalice ran in Japan? Outcome?

Anonymous said...

I am a 20-year Thoroughbred girl who worked with Standardbreds for the first time this summer. What a different way of life... I can tell you that my harness friends read an article like the one in BloodHorse today about Wanderin Boy (
and they think we are a bunch of heartless boobs... It's hard for me to argue when they start throwing around the word "cruel."