Busy day here, so it is Guest Post Friday. Thanks to Greg R, frequent contributor.
If you are not a fan this weekend, you ain't a fan of racing.
This may be the biggest weekend of the year to date as we have the huge night at Mohawk on Saturday in addition to the World Trotting Derby at Du Quoin , Illinois , and the Cane Pace at Freehold on Labour Day.
Let’s start with the World Trotting Derby, which should be another showcase for Deweycheatumnhowe. I know Ray Schnittker is quoted as saying records don’t matter to him, but I think he’ll go for something in the 1:50 range if the colt is up to it and the weather holds. Du Quoin may not be quite as fast as the track at Springfield or the Red Mile on its best day, but it is a fast strip of dirt. I like a rapidly improving Mike Lachance-Ron Gurfein pupil named Gallantly to complete the exactor with Clerk Magistrate and Celebrity Secret also in there.
The scene then shifts to Mohawk with an amazing card headlined by the $1 million Metro Pace. There does not appear to be a Somebeachsomewhere in the field this year, but there are still some high quality equine talents. I really like Annieswesterncard in this spot. He appears to be the most talented one of the bunch for new driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Joe Seekman. He has been brilliant with two sub 1:51 victories already this year with the second coming in last week’s elimination. Nebupanezzar has been very impressive for Condren/McIntosh, but I am concerned that Steve doesn’t think he’s handy enough, and Major In Art has some green-ness issues that concern driver Brian Sears.
The Shes A Great Lady for the two-year old fillies looks to be a wide-open contest as the division leader, Pedigree Snob, is not competing. I am again looking at Yannick Gingras here with Racing Star, a fast Four Starzzz Shark filly for trainer Jeff Stafford and owners-breeders White Birch Farms. These connections know about top fillies thanks to Darlins Delight, and Racing Star showed last week in her elimination that she’s got that kind of class as she towed along behind a nice-looking McIntosh filly named West Of L A and then blew her away in the stretch. I will throw in the John Pentland trained Backstreet Sweetie and a longshot special, Campus Cutie.
The Breeders Crown Open Trot is a very interesting event to me. Enough Talk blew the doors off this same bunch last week minus Arch Madness, who will be greatly compromised by post ten, and Knight of Intrigue, who looks like a long shot. Corleone Kosmos has never shown an affinity for Mohawk, and has had trouble with breaks over the Campbellville oval, so that pretty much brings me back to Enough Talk. The horse survived and thrived in Europe earlier this year, and this would be a crowning achievement for the gelding. Digital Image looked very good last week, so we’ll throw him in with Arch Madness, who will hope not to be first-over again.
In the Breeders Crown Open Mare Trot, I have to like Brigham Dream. I know Luc is very, very high on her, and I think his presence in the bike over Jean-Pierre Dubois, who is a great horseman himself, but not a catch driver, greatly improves her chances. She was very good last week, and Luc said that he didn’t even ask her for all she had, so I’m banking on her ending Ouellette’s six-year Breeders Crown drought. We’ll throw in the Smedshammer duo, Falls For You and Godiva Hall for second and third.
Over on the pacing side, Mister Big has been pretty dominant the last few weeks in the older male ranks, and I really can’t see that ending in the Breeders Crown. Artistic Fella was sick last week and he is the defending champion, but he hasn’t been able to stop Mister Big outside of the Ben Franklin at Chester . Won The West was very good in the Canadian Pacing Derby but got placed for going inside pylons. Throw Eagle Luck in there as well as he is destined for a good trip and already has pulled a couple of upsets this year.
Last but not least is the Mares Open Pace. Division leader My Little Dragon has never won at Mohawk, and threw arguably her worst career race here last year in the Roses Are Red, so I’m looking elsewhere. Tidewaterdragonfly already won the Roses Are Red at Mohawk earlier this year and gets a perfect post three to work with for Tim Tetrick. I think he’s going to work out a good trip and she’ll pop again. Darlins Delight is perfectly capable of continuing a big night for driver Yannick Gingras, and Southwind Madonna, who is the best of the locals, will have a big say in the pace of the event.
There are also a pair of Simcoe Stakes splits for three-year old trotters on the Saturday night card. I’m looking at Smoking Gun in the first division, as he has been improving throughout the year, and new world record holder Define The World in the second split.
Last, but certainly not least, is Monday’s Cane Pace at Freehold, the first jewel in Pacing’s Triple Crown. I know that Art Official drew post seven and Badlands Nitro drew the rail, but I don’t think it will matter. Badlands Nitro has been content to settle for trips this year, and I think that will play right into Ron Pierce’s hands. I also think Art Official is just a better horse and will be all-out to win this one to get the opportunity to race in the Jug. I really believe that if Art Official wins the Triple Crown, he will win Three-Year Old of the Year in the U.S. , and that would be a heck of an accomplishment the same year Somebeachsomewhere raced.