The Burlington Stakes were last night at Mohawk. Used as a prep for the North America Cup, they usually tell us something about the colts heading into next weeks eliminations. All we learned is that blog followers and commenters are right - this is not a talented group.
In the first elim, Art Colony was 2-5. Why? I have no idea. I swung hard against him with the six and eight and could not capitalize. No one jumped out in that elim.
In the second elim, east coast horse Keep it Real raced well. We were waiting with this guy to see the bottom of the well, and we saw it there, 150.2. He might have stamped himself as the Cup fave next week. Well Said had a decent trip and could not make any headway, coming fourth. Mr. Wiggles had an excellent prep. He looks like a horse to me.
Nothing sparkled in any of the other elims in my eyes.
At the M, Passmaster Hanover assured some favouritism with his score in the NJSS final. He won like a good horse. Blair Burgess has brought along another one like a master. While many trainers nowadays try to win qualifiers in flashy times in May, Burgess tries to win races in June and July. We see this time and time again with Blair. I think in ten years or so, or maybe sooner, harness racing will come full circle and we will not see 151 qualifiers in May. We will be back to old school, with a couple of slow q's and a nice prep or two. Horses are not machines.
Muscle Hill was amazingly impressive again. Strength of field makes some superstars look only like mini-superstars if the depth of crop is good, and can make ordinary horses look better than they are if the crop is mediocre. For example, could you imagine Somebeachsomewhere against this crop of three year olds, rather than the stock he beat last year? Well Muscle Hill does not have that luxury, as this is a good crop. Last night he showed how good he is, trotting away from his very talented stablemate like he was in another universe. My fingers are crossed for this colt.
In the Classic Series Final, mare pacing superstar Southwind Tempo showed when she is good there is no mare on earth who can stay with her. She swept that field like they were tied to a pole. Will she stay sharp all year? If so, one can see more world records being shattered by her.
In the older pacer Classic Series, Bettor Sweet showed that the four year olds can do just fine against older, if they are great horses. Since most great three year olds retire, we don't get to see it much. Two excellent three year olds that did not retire last year were Bettor Sweet and Dali. They look in fine shape to make some coin this year. The jury is still out on Shadow Play, but if he comes back good, and we add Southwestern Dream to the mix, the older division might be dominated by four year olds. And we have not even spoken of Art Official, who won a prep last night at Balmoral in 51, easily. This shows just how good Somebeachsomewhere was last year. The 2008 three year old crop will be spoken about for generations.
While we can fasten our seatbelts for the Muscle Hill ride we can do the same for the Cup. If the trend holds and no one jumps out, this will be a hell of a betting race. With a million bucks bet on the Cup, and a field with many possibles, we have a shot to make some money.