People have called half mile track racing anachronistic, something that should be done away with in the speed game, and worse. Often times this description fits, especially in stakes finals like the Jug, where the draw of your colt in the elimination means everything (e.g. draw a seven and you are pretty much toast, as you ain't winning your elim, and the elim winners pick their posts for the Jug final).
If you watched the $500k Confederation Cup final today, you certainly can't call it anything but exciting.
Best of Best Hanover, who drew horribly in his elim (and flipped his palate for good measure), showed his class and his talent, winning the final in 152, due (a lot) to a brilliant backstretch move by driver Jackie Mo.
Darryl Kaplan at Standardbred Canada spoke eloquently in last month's Trot Magazine about the Open draw for stakes finals, and what we witnessed today was exactly what he was talking about. Just because a horse draws a rail in a $50k elim, gets things his own way and wins, doesn't mean he gets to win a $500k stakes final at 1-9 or 1-5 odds by picking the rail - he has to earn it.
Eliminations are there to eliminate and cut down a field where too many horses are entered, they are not there to coronate the horses who are fortunate enough to win them.
The Cup final was enjoyable, bettable and interesting - yes, a half mile track final that was enjoyable, bettable and interesting....... and (it can be argued) the best horse won the Final.
What more can fans of our sport ask for?
Is there a better trotter in North America (overall) than Daylon Magician? Maybe not. He went in 54.2 today, with ease, on a track that was not that fast. He's a nice colt.
It looks to this camper that some of your suspicions about Warawee Needy might be warranted. He broke today, and two of the last four weeks looked a little off. I think the odds board was telling us something - he opened up at 4-1 (he is usually 1-9 each week) and he closed at only 4-5. He was the proverbial "dead on the board" horse. He broke stride before the half.