It's Friday. I started my NA Cup Top Ten at the side of the blog - horses who I think are the favourites for the $1.5M showpiece at Mohawk in June. Greg Reinhart, who follows the sport closely, usually has some thoughts when we discuss these issues. So I asked him who he thought was looking good for the big race. He supplied us with some!
Sustaining payments have to go out again on March 15th. But I would think that all these horses will be making that payment.
This year has the potential to be one of the greatest years for 3YO colt pacers in recent memory. I hope these horses come back good, and we get to see some great racing.
I was once again recruited this week to offer up some early thoughts on the three-year old pacing crop for 2008. I am on the record as stating this group has the potential to be the best since 2002, when names like Art Major, McArdle, Red River Hanover, Million Dollar Cam, Allamerican Ingot, and Royal Mattjesty were three-year olds.
I’ll offer up my top five to start, and then offer some thoughts on each one.
2-Moon Beam (10-1)
4-Santanna Blue Chip (15-1)
5-Duneside Perch (20-1)
Somebeachsomewhere has to be considered the one to beat until someone shows that they can pace with him, let alone beat him. Everyone knows what kind of season and what kind of records he set as a two-year old. I am anxious to see what spending the winter in Truro , Nova Scotia , has done for him, when most horses of his caliber spend the winter in a warmer climate.
Moon Beam was second in both the Woodrow Wilson and in the Metro. He has an impeccable pedigree and a new barn, that being Ross Croghan’s, to race out of in 2008 after being purchased for $750,000 at the Meadowlands Mixed Sale. Croghan is not necessarily known as a three-year old pacing trainer, but his credentials make this horse hard to ignore.
For obvious reasons, I am rooting for Dali. I am friends with his driver and his connections. He is a wicked fast horse, who won the Woodrow Wilson in sparkling fashion over Moon Beam. He fought some allergies and sickness last fall, which seemed to take a bit of luster off his season, but I expect him to be a major threat. Dewey Marfisi, his trainer, was part of Monte Gelrod’s operation in the mid/late-90s when his horses were always a factor in big races, so he’s been there before.
Santanna Blue Chip won the Governors Cup and the Breeders Crown, and didn’t garner any year-end awards. He’s another very talented horse, but I was surprised by Carl Jamieson’s comments to Standardbred Canada about him coming back thin and not sounding like he was overly confident about him. We’ll see if he’s behind or Carl has outsmarted everyone.
Duneside Perch is the x-factor this year. He’s also been moved into the care of trainer Ross Croghan after a $700,000 purchase at the Meadowlands Mixed Sale. He was a superstar early on for trainer George Teague last year before getting injured. I have heard reports from Florida , where the horse is wintering, that he looks marvelous, and perhaps the time-off from the injury only helped him.
There are a bunch of other talented three-year olds out there that I didn’t put in the top five, but shouldn’t be ignored either. These include Deuce Seelster, an uber-talented son of Western Maverick who was the best two-year old in Ontario last year; Sand Shooter, who was second in the Breeders Crown final and beat Dali in Lexington; Dali’s stable-mate On The Brink, who went two sparkling miles in Lexington last fall, and a pair of Teague trainees, Idle Hour, who never ventured onto the Grand Circuit last year, but was the terror of Pennsylvania, and beat Dali at the Meadows in a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes division, and Lennon Blue Chip, who beat Deuce Seelster in a Gold final at Woodbine and finished fourth in the Governors Cup.
Like I always say though, there are no guarantees in harness racing, especially in the three-year old pacing game. Don’t forget, this time last year, Tell All was still in non-winners of one.
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