It sure has been an interesting year so far in harness racing, and if you've been following along, there's been some high drama, and a whole lotta shakin going on.
Last night at Pocono, the three year old filly and colt pacers, and the older pacers were all in action.
American Jewel continued to impress. However, if I told you she woulda been sitting off a 54 half, with a back half of 55.2, you would tell me "Pocket, she must have won easily". That was not the case. She had to really work for it, and looked to be possibly beaten for an instant near the top of the lane. Regardless, even if not at her best, that was a nice job by a nice filly.
A Rock n Roll Dance finally showed what he can do, when at his best. The colt has not seemed to put it all together this year, but last evening he sprung beautifully off a covered trip and won in a fast time. The chalk - the mind-bogglingly fast Hurrikane Kingcole - was out of it after being first over. He is a quirky horse and all, so I guess these things are expected from him. If you're taking a short price in any of the three year old stakes so far, you're likely not doing very well. This is a fast group, and if someone has a bad night, they're going to get soundly beaten.
Last year Betterthancheddar showed early he was very fast. After a torch trip in nw2, and a race-sick the next week, he needed time to get better, and when he came back he could go with anyone. This season he has not been messed up at all, and he's carried on. He and We Will See look like the two best older pacers, and they fought it out in a good tilt last night. Foiled Again, who most of you saw as losing a step earlier this year, is no longer the king here. He's still slugging away at age 8 though, competing. Amazing horse.
Warawee Needy came second last evening at Mohawk in his comeback race. He raced okay, but probably should've won (remember, this is the horse who qualified in 149.2 in April). Jody Jamieson reported on twitter that he scoped sick, and that's pretty believable. This horse reminds me a lot of Betterthancheddar - looked like superstar, then had some bad luck/ sickness/torch job. If he gets some time to recover - like Cheddar had - he's my pick for the "September onward" big horse.
The Meadowlands Pace elims are coming up this weekend, with more questions than answers. If I was making a line I have no idea who I'd make the early chalk. The fastest horses are all coming off question marks, and the grinder types (Thinking Out Loud and RnR Dance) are in form. Bolt the Duer and Pet Rock - two consistent types - are ready to go too. As I mentioned last week, it's a great time to be a harness fan.
What I think we're seeing this year more than ever, is that with younger horses, the speed they're going is hurting them week to week. 148 is different than 149 and change, and it can be a demonstrable difference. I think by the end of this year we'll see more bounces in harness racing for pacers and trotters under the age of four, than we've ever seen before.
It's why I always hold horses like Beach in the highest regard. They went 148, and came back the next week and went 148 again. That is difficult to do.
Have a good Sunday everyone.