Breeders Crown: Harness Racing’s Championship Night
by Greg Reinhart
It’s time once again for harness racing’s Breeders Crown for two and three-year old trotters and pacers of both sexes. This year’s event, which is going to take place at Woodbine Racetrack in Rexdale , Ontario , has eliminations slated for Friday, October 16 and Saturday, October 17 with the eight finals on October 24. We’re going to preview the elimination events that were required and also talk about the races that advanced straight to the final with no eliminations.
Three-Year Old Colt & Gelding Pace
The “glamour boy” division has one ten horse elimination on Saturday night (race eight) and eight of the ten horses will advance on to next week’s final to face division leaders Well Said and Vintage Master, who both received byes based on their 2009 earnings. In the elimination, it’s very difficult to get by If I Can Dream (post four, Tim Tetrick). This son of Western Hanover beat Well Said at The Red Mile last week in a Grand Circuit stakes event and was the only horse able to pace with Well Said in the Little Brown Jug before that. The high-class Mr Wiggles (post six, Corey Callahan) is also in this race, as is the improving Straight Shooting (post two, Dave Palone). Another horse I’m interested in seeing in this race is Dial Or Nodial (post ten, Brian Sears). He’s rebounding from a foot injury, and raced okay at The Red Mile in his two tries there.
Three-Year Old Colt & Gelding Trot
Ten sophomore male trotters dropped into the box in this division, meaning there are no eliminations. Muscle Hill is obviously going to be the horse to beat, especially since Explosive Matter has decided to race in Italy instead of taking him on again. That probably means Triumphant Caviar, who set a world record in a division of the Old Oaken Bucket on Jug Day, is the next best horse in the race, followed by Neighsay Hanover, who won a Grand Circuit Stake race at The Red Mile last Saturday. The always interesting Hot Shot Blue Chip is also entered; he’s a high speed horse who makes a lot of breaks, which probably doesn’t bode well around Woodbine’s sometimes tricky surface.
Three-Year Old Filly Pace
Eight three-year old fillies entered, meaning no elimination races were required. Bulletproof Enterprises supplemented both Shacked Up and Yellow Diamond to this event for $62,500 since they were not originally eligible. Shacked Up has been a terror in Ontario this year, winning several Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series finals, the SBOA Stakes, and the Simcoe Stakes. After a period of dull efforts, Yellow Diamond has hit her best stride again, winning the Gold Final at Kawartha Downs and a Grand Circuit Stake at the Red Mile in her recent outings. If there’s a filly out there that can beat the Bulletproof duo, it might be Ginger And Fred, who finished second in the Jugette to another Bulletproof filly, Showherthemoney.
Three-Year Old Filly Trot
Twenty sophomore trotting fillies entered for the Breeders Crown, which meant they were split into two eliminations (races four and five) on Saturday night. This division has been wide-open all year, with the fillies taking turns beating each other.
The first elimination features Ontario star Elusive Desire, the 8-5 morning line favourite from post five for driver Paul MacDonell and trainer Mike Keeling; the stout Raising Rachel from post four for Jack Moiseyev and trainer John Kopas, and the Hambletonian Oaks champion Broadway Schooner from the seven-hole for Brian Sears and trainer Jim Campbell.
One race after that, Kentucky Filly Futurity champion Seaside is the 2-1 morning line choice from post position five for Dave Miller and trainer Jonas Czernyson. She will have to deal with New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Margarita Momma from the rail for Ron Pierce and trainer Jan Johnson; the fast Yursa Hanover from post five for Tim Tetrick and trainer Ben Baillargeon; Windsong Soprano from post seven for Steve Condren and trainer Bob McIntosh and multiple stakes winner Southwind Wasabi, who will line up from post eight for Mike Lachance and trainer Chuck Sylvester.
Two-Year Old Colt & Gelding Pace
Eleven of the continent’s top juvenile pacing colts and geldings entered for their Breeders Crown, so they will all advance right on to the final. Obviously Metro Pace champion Sportswriter will be the one to beat in this division, especially since One More Laugh was not eligible. Sportswriter hasn’t raced since the Nassagaweya Stakes in September, so the connections have dropped him into the box for an overnight race on Sunday. There are several other talented colts in here as well, though, like All Speed Hanover, who won both of his Grand Circuit races at the Red Mile, including a dazzling 1:50 and change effort over a sloppy track last week against One More Laugh, and Rockin Image, who also won both his tests in Kentucky.
Two-Year Old Filly Pace
A total of 16 rookie pacing fillies dropped in the box for this Breeders Crown event, and they were divided into two eight horses eliminations on Friday night (races seven and nine) with the top five from each race advancing to the final.
Fancy Filly (post four, Brian Sears) is the 3-5 favourite in the first elimination based on her nine-for-ten win record. She didn’t race in Kentucky , but she did win the $500,000 Three Diamonds at Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack on September 20. She will be matched up against the likes of Siri Hanover (post three, Ron Pierce), who put together two nice efforts in the Grand Circuit at The Red Mile; Western Silk (post five, Mark MacDonald), the top filly so far in the Ontario Sires Stakes program; Cannae Cammie (post seven, Luc Ouellette), who finished fourth in the Shes A Great Lady and has beaten overnight rivals in two straight outings, and Ticket To Rock (post eight, John Campbell), who upset in a division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk back in September.
Undefeated Put On A Show (post seven, Jody Jamieson) will line up in the second elimination. She is this year’s Shes A Great Lady Stakes champion and won both of her Grand Circuit races at The Red Mile. She will be tested, though, as Higher And Higher (post eight, Dave Palone), this year’s fastest two-year old filly pacer, is also entered in this elimination as is $227,000 earner Casino Nights (post two, Tim Tetrick).
Two-Year Old Colt & Gelding Trot
There are two eliminations on Friday for the two-year old male trotters (races five and six) as 19 horses entered. Again, this means the top five from each division will move on to the final.
Il Villaggio (post four, Tim Tetrick) is the headliner in the first elimination. Il Villaggio has only lost once this year, and that was early on at The Meadowlands when he made a break. Since then, he’s won the Wellwood final at Mohawk, the Champlain at Mohawk, and his one start at Lexington . Looking to beat him will be Lucky Chucky (post seven, John Campbell). Lucky Chucky pocketed the $450,000 Valley Victory on September 20 at Harrah’s Chester and then went on to win twice in Lexington, both times in 1:56.2, and both times with sub-28 second final quarters.
Pilgrims Taj (post eight, Mike Lachance) looms as the trotter to beat in the second elimination. Pilgrims Taj was second in both the Peter Haughton Memorial and the Valley Victory, and then went on to win the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship at The Meadows in his most recent trip behind the starting gate. Wishing Stone (post five, John Campbell) will try to beat Pilgrims Taj off two wins in 1:55 bracket at The Red Mile his last two times out.
Two-Year Old Filly Trot
15 two-year old trotting fillies will compete in two elimination dashes (races two and three) on the Friday night program at Woodbine. The top five from each elimination will come back to contest the final the following week.
In the first elimination, Poof Shes Gone (post two, Dave Miller) is the 4-5 morning line choice. Poof Shes Gone has won seven of her nine starts, including the rich Merrie Annabelle final on Hambletonian Day and her lone Grand Circuit try at The Red Mile. Trying to take her down will be the likes of multiple Pennsylvania Sires Stakes winner Bone A Fide (post four, Yannick Gingras); Spicy Wings (post six, John Campbell), who won a Grand Circuit Stake at The Red Mile in her last start, and Impressive Kemp (post seven, Andrew McCarthy), who was an impressive 1:55.3 winner in the first week of the Grand Circuit at The Red Mile.
The second elimination showcases Costa Rica (post three, Ron Pierce). Costa Rica has won eight of her 12 tries, including the Goldsmith Maid and the Peaceful Way Stakes, and she has earned over $831,000. Fashion Feline (post one, Brian Sears) , who rolled through an undefeated campaign in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes, is also in this elimination as is Angostura (post seven, Trevor Ritchie), who beat Costa Rica in an elimination of the Peaceful Way before being placed last for violating Ontario’s new whipping rule.
Greg is a harness fan and frequent blog contributor.